Introducing the Bear’s Kindergarten Teacher

I’ve mentioned before ’round these parts that I think the return to the US has made me a little granola here and there. I transitioned to (always) baking my own bread a couple times a week, cooking about 90% of our meals from scratch, and I even dabble in literally making our granola and laundry detergent when I’ve got the time.

Earlier this year, I felt like I started to up the ante a little more, with some decisions that felt, considering I had three kids four and under around the house, slightly crazy. Among the many, I started cloth diapering (I haven’t told you about that yet, have I?) and simultaneously kicked off infant potty training (pretty sure I haven’t mentioned that yet — cool topic for another day.)

Most of these decisions have family health and environmental concerns at  heart, but there was another on the horizon that felt like a bigger deal, whispering in the back of my mind for two or three years now. I tried to avoid it as best I could, tried to come up with alternative solutions to the I know in my gut this is right for us thing that I just couldn’t shake .

But that wonderful Houndog of Heaven didn’t give up on me. He kept whispering, first one way, then another, until finally, I just couldn’t shake it anymore.

You can be sure of one thing, friends: when the Maker of Heaven and Earth whispers to your heart something He wants you to do, you can count on experiencing blessing and adventure, and often also challenge and adversity, when you choose to obey. But, woe to your soul, if you hear Him whispering and choose another path: you will miss out on the adventure and blessing, but the challenge and adversity still have a way of finding you.

So here it is. Decision made. And I proudly introduce the Bear’s Kindergarten Teacher.

CCTeacher 003

{She’s the long-haired one in the middle.}

Yes, boys and girls and children of all ages, we are homeschooling.

You saw it coming, maybe? Maybe even before I did?

Well, here’s the moment for us to look at it together.

I’ll take this introductory opportunity to share a few thoughts on this subject, just to make sure the thoughts are shared before I perhaps find myself with too little time to share any thoughts about anything anymore.

Let’s start with the reasons that are NOT reasons we’re homeschooling:

1. We are NOT homeschooling because we think our local public school system is lousy or full of slackers.

I am confident that the Bear would get a very good education in our local public school system. Do I believe there is a possibility he might get a better education at home? Well, yeah, but it’s kind of an unfair fight. I only have to teach one kid (right now), I can work at his pace, choose curriculum that suits his learning style, spend extra time on things he needs extra time on, and enjoy focusing on the subjects that really interest him. I don’t have to deal with government-legislated budget cuts, lack of parental involvement, or a number of other issues that public school teachers face on a regular basis — and they still manage to work their magic.

Basically, I’m taking a risk with the hopes that it’ll pay off.

P.S. My Mom taught in the public school system for thirty years — I have a huge amount of respect for the underpaid, underappreciated, incredibly challenging profession of teaching. Teachers, you are amazing.

2. We are NOT homeschooling because we think the Bear is smarter than everybody else’s kid and needs special attention.

While I do think the Bear is a very clever little chap, I’m not avoiding the public school system because I feel like I need to make sure his astro-physicist-genius-potential is handled with care. I do intend to handle his education with care, and hope that it does foster him reaching his full potential — but not because I think he’s smarter than your kid or your kid or your kid.

3. We are NOT homeschooling because we want to hunker down and live in a bubble until Jesus comes back. 

We will still be involved in the local community. The Tank will start preschool soon. The Bear will hang out with his little pals in children’s church every Sunday, play sports with other kids when we’re ready to kick that off and we’ll be connecting with others in play dates throughout the week. There is a great homeschooling co-op in our area, so we’ll also get to hang with other homeschoolers, take field trips and so on.

Here are a couple of reasons we are choosing to homeschool:

1. As previously mentioned, I have a deep sense of conviction that it’s something I’m being called to do.

Would I rather drop the Bear off at 8 and not have to worry about him again until 3? Sometimes, yeah – I would like to use nap time to write the books that are swirling around in my head, instead of using it as a small-people-free-zone time to accomplish some of my learning goals for the big kid that day. But, the old hymn might’ve said it best: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”

2. Like my Argentinian PhD advisor once said, “You will never regret to put your family first.”

It sounded really extra beautiful when she said it with her gorgeous accent. And this feels like a family-centered decision. I get to play an (even more) integral part in training my children up in the way they should go. I’d like play an integral part in choosing their curriculum, helping them find the subjects that make them come alive inside, and helping them process a lot of the information that is difficult for small people to take in, about the fallen world we live in, and how we are supposed to keep on living in it.

The more I do my homework, the more I hear the stories about how connected, what a unit families feel like when they choose to homeschool. I’ve witnessed it first hand, and I hope I have the privilege of enjoying it, too.

And sure there are trade-offs. I might have just tossed a whole heap of me-time out the window. I’m already fielding weird questions and sometimes beginning to feel like I should start dressing weird and stop brushing my hair to somehow play the role I feel stereotyped into.

But here’s the thing it keeps coming back to. Yeah, it would be easier to do what mostly everyone else is doing for a million and three reasons, which include convenience and the fact that I don’t like feeling like a weirdo.  But has anything amazing ever happened to anyone who backed down from that thing they sensed in their hearts they needed to do to instead choose to just fall in line with what everyone else was doing?

If Benjamin Franklin hadn’t risked looking looney to chase thunder and lightning on horseback would we have electricity?

If Martin Luther hadn’t written those ninety-five theses would the Protestant Reformation have taken place?

What if Mother Teresa had asked the Lord to call back later when He called her to live among the poor?

None of this is meant to sound like I’m preparing for something absolutely miraculous, but it is to say that what I’ve seen in my heart over the course of wrestling with this decision is a deep desire to kind of look like a reasonable version of normal to a lot of people whose opinions really don’t matter much in light of eternity.

“Will my kid be socialized?” No, I’m currently placing bids on ebay, hoping to purchase some wolves who will raise him for me in the woods near our house.

“Will my kid feel weird?” Maybe, but plenty of public school kids feel weird enough to go off the deep end (in one direction or another) on a regular basis.

“Will this possibly be the hardest thing ever?” I am kind of starting to think so, but it might also be the best.

So here we go. Maybe he’ll call me Mrs. Collie, but I think he’ll probably just call me Mom.