I wanted to start out by sharing a bit about myself. Of course, there are a million stories I could tell, but since this a homeschooling blog, I thought I would focus on how we came to homeschool and more specifically how we came to homeschool classically.
I remember like yesterday when we were getting our oldest son ready for Kindergarten! I never had even thought about homeschooling, so we were doing what most American moms and dads did. I had my awesome school supply list sent to us by the school and I was buying and collecting and labeling to my heart’s content. I was so excited and afraid all at the same time. As the first day of school approached, I knew I did not want him just thrown to wolves, so I looked for a “softer” option. We found a public Montessori school – I know! I was shocked too- and he was accepted, so we started him out there. It was okay, but he was “in trouble” ALL the time. I constantly was receiving notes and comments from the teacher about my son not sitting still, notes about him talking too much, and notes about him goofing off when he should be working. I did realize that he needed to learn self-control and respect for others and I was not making excuses for him, but there was something beginning to develop in him. It was changing him, and I could sense it was not for the good. But, “I was the parent and they were the school”. What could I do?
In addition, pre-Homeschooling I was on a mission to find my perfect career. I worked at a variety of places and was a student at a local Bible college. I was not interested in staying home and having no identity or nothing to do. At least that is what I thought would happen to me if I stayed home. I also assumed my husband was most concerned with me bringing in an income. There was obviously a lot I did not know, thankfully.
My journey home all started towards the end of the summer right before our son began kindergarten. Of course looking back now, I see many circumstances, friends, and situations from the entire prior year that worked to prepare me to receive all that God was about to put before me.
First, on July 20th I encountered a dramatically life changing day in my relationship with God. All that happened on that day is a blog post in its self and I plan on sharing more about that. For now, all I knew is that I had a completely different view on life. Areas where I struggled were automatically not a struggle anymore. Areas where I had no faith, I was now filled with conviction. This was huge, because I became sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s direction for the first time. Maybe it was the day I was saved; I am not sure, all I know is everything changed after that day. Soon after, in fact almost exactly one month later, I was driving home from work and as we pulled into the driveway we smelled smoke. We thought the neighbors were grilling out. Wrong. It was our house. That day we lost almost all of our belongings and much of our home had to be rebuilt.
This next season was a crash course in relationships, repentance, and restoration. Most significantly in the realm of family and community. We were connected in the church and our church took amazing care of us. They even paid rent for us so we had an apartment to live in while our home was being rebuilt. We needed it. For the next 7 months, we lived in a small apartment. We were physically the closest we had ever been, but we also became the closest we had ever been relationally. In that 7 months, we grew more as a family, as individuals, and as Christians than I had in my entire life.
About this time, a lot of my friends began homeschooling. This was seriously new to me, but because these moms were just like me, it began to crush some false paradigms I had about homeschoolers and opened my mind to ideas I had never had about parenting. While this was happening, I was getting deeper into my classes at the Bible College I was attending. In one of my classes, my professor had us reading a book by Mortimer Adler named How to Speak, How to Listen. In the course of the discussion about communication, Adler says some things about this idea of the seven liberal arts. I was enchanted! I quickly became jealous that I had not received such an education, and I began making plans for myself to receive it. I also began realizing my kids would not be learning all these wonderful things in public school. I wanted to fix that too. I was mostly concerned with how to fight un-Christian ways of viewing the world that creep in through numerous lessons without the student, and often times the teacher, ever being aware. (C.S. Lewis writes about this in his collection of essays ‘The Abolition of Man’) So, I asked some of my classmates if they had any book ideas that I could read and use to feed my children the truth when they got home.
There were several great suggestions and I wrote them all down. Then as we left class, one man came up to me and dared to tell me that I was in the wrong for not homeschooling my kids and that God commanded me to homeschool them! Say What!?! I was shocked, especially because I do not believe –even today- that homeschooling is a command from God to all people. I do believe God has called me to homeschool. Regardless, God used that man to jolt me out of my self-absorbed; “it’s all about me and my career” mentality -even if that career was moving towards Christian ministry. God had a different plan.
As the aftermath of all these things began to play out combined with tons of time really studying the Word of God; it ultimately led me to a huge paradigm shift regarding family, life, and learning. I recommitted myself to putting God first and family second and after some conversations with my husband we decided that I should quit my job and pull the kids out of daycare and one year later we decided to homeschool.
From the beginning, I knew I would homeschool classically. It was the description of a classical education that I had read a year back in Adler’s book. However, my understanding of what exactly that was has developed and matured over the years. In addition, the act of teaching my own children and other children classically has actually been the biggest part of my education –this was one of the happiest surprises for me.
As I delved deeper into homeschooling I was reaching everywhere I could for deep drinks of water. It wasn’t until I embraced a healthy diet of the good, the true and, the beautiful, that I realized how parched I had really become. I committed to educating myself along with my kids rather than letting my personal ambitions be in opposition to home and family life. Every opportunity I had to become a better teacher or to have my mind opened to greater truths I took. Outside of the work of homeschooling my kids, a few of the places I encountered these truths, and grew as a result of them, was through books like The Bible (obviously), Norms & Nobility by David Hicks, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, and countless other books; through homeschool conferences and conventions; and through organizations like Classical Conversations, and most profoundly through the CiRCE Institute and their Apprenticeship program. My education was being redeemed.
You see, when I first started homeschooling I did not even know what the 8 parts of speech were, I had never heard the word phonogram, and I had never moved beyond Pre-Algebra in math. I completely squandered my education when I was young, but God is faithful! He redeems the years the locusts ate.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,The crawling locust,The consuming locust,And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,And praise the name of the Lord your God,Who has dealt wondrously with you;And My people shall never be put to shame.Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:I am the Lord your GodAnd there is no other.My people shall never be put to shame.” – Joel 2:25-32 NKJV
Today I am not put to shame and God has redeemed many years so far. In addition to all the most important, eternal, and spiritual redemption, I now know what the 8 parts of speech are -most days- 🙂 I have read books I had only heard about, discussed ideas with words I never knew existed, written papers about topics I had never thought about, and am teaching literature and writing locally and online, most importantly I have been able to join arms with other moms and students as they are transformed by the good, the true, and the beautiful.
I am overwhelmed with wonder. Only the Lord, my God, could redeem a mess like me. I do not know why God chose to use homeschooling classically to change my life, but He did, and continues to do so. This way of learning has transformed me. I am a better wife, mother, friend, and Christian because of it.
Expanding Wisdom, extending grace, that is our motto, because we desperately need both to run this race. God really does want us to know Him and every moment, art, discipline, and area of study has the potential to be opened up to us to reveal the glory of God. All that is required is that we attend.
Expanding wisdom, extending grace,