Wednesday, 6 June 2012

RePost: Home Education, Our Journey

I originally posted this at LDS Parenting, but wanted to share it over here since I closed down my Home Ed blog (too many blogs, not enough time!).

When our oldest child was just a tiny baby, I found a book in the
library entitled "Free Range Education." As I read it, the Spirit really
testified to me that this was the way we should raise our children. My
husband was in complete agreement, and we spent many hours talking about
how we would educate them and things we would do together as a family.
It was exciting!

Life seems simple when your oldest child is an infant, however. When she
was 18 months old, we had our son, and I experienced post partum
depression. My memories of those months after his birth are tinged with
a black cloud and I felt I couldn't cope with anything in my life, let
alone home education. I sadly shelved the idea and started looking into
local nursery schools when my daughter was turning three; I was pregnant
with our third baby, and I thought that no "break" from small children
would likely tip me over the edge. I was also very afraid of PPD
striking once more and wanted some forced structure in my day that would
require me to actually get dressed in the mornings....

The Lord was patient with my insecurities. Even as I enrolled my
children into school and began my life of shuffling them from one place
to the next, in the back of my mind I wished for a way to return to my
dream of home education. I still didn't feel confident, even amid my
misgivings of sending my sweet daughter to full-time school at
four-and-a-half years old. Thankfully, around this time, I was blessed
with a new friend; she and her family moved to the ward from America,
and this amazing, sweet woman has home educated her seven children from
the beginning. I learned at her knee what wonderful experiences could be
had with home educating your children. As I got to know her and told her
of my desires to home educate, she was so kind in answering my questions
and addressing my concerns.

My dream to home educate, re-awoken through meeting my friend, had
blossomed into a fervent prayer after two years of friendship among our
I also began to get angry about the pattern of our lives. Why was I
sending my children to school for 6.5 hours each day? Why were these
little ones coming home with so much homework? Why did I have to turn
into the "mean mother" just to get them out the door and then force them
into bed at night after only spending a few hours with them -- just so
they wouldn't be too tired for school the next day?

I thought about raising our family from an eternal perspective, and I
wondered how I could effectively raise my children in the gospel and
create a strong family bond if we never really spent time together.
Amid these thoughts forming in my mind, life continued apace. I gave
birth to our fourth child and my husband changed jobs. The job change
meant that we would move closer to his office, giving us the final
opportunity to literally change the pace of our entire lives and home
educate our children.

Looking back on these events in my life, I can see that I had a lack of
faith in many ways; with a stronger testimony and faith in the Lord, I
think we could have home educated from the beginning. Even so, our
family is benefitting greatly from the Lords blessings now, even as we
do our best to follow His promptings.

We moved to our new house at the beginning of the year, and we started
home education at the same time. I expected it to be incredibly
stressful for our children and that they would be terribly sad about the
move. Instead, they have grown closer together as siblings, and
genuinely enjoy each other's company.

I am a better mother now than I ever was before. I have that most
precious of resources - time. Gone are the days of rushing around in the
morning trying to find school bags, permission slips and that lone shoe.
Gone are the afternoons of enforcing home work, cooking dinner and
tucking them into bed before it gets too late. We can read that extra
chapter of a bed time story now. We can spend all afternoon colouring or
walking in the park. We can chat, and talk, and converse, and discuss,
and shoot the breeze.

So many people this year have called me "super woman" or ask "How do you
do it?"

I don't feel like super woman. Just ask my kids! These days they have a
front and centre show to The Imperfections of Mother. But I am so happy
living this life. I feel incredibly blessed to spend this time with my
children and guide their learning in all things - physical, temporal,
spiritual. My answer to the question of "How do you do it?" is: "How
could I not?"

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