Monday, December 14, 2009

Overburdened Homeschooling

This article is posted with permission from it's author, Jeannie Fulbright, & was originally posted here. Jeanie is also the author of Apologia's elementary science books.

    As an author of homeschool books, I want so much to interact with and bless homeschool moms. It is my heart’s cry to encourage, build up and say "YOU CAN DO THIS!" to every mom I encounter with those weary worried eyes. I seek to untie the heavy burdens they have strung upon their backs which weigh them down with guilt, shame and hopelessness... those rampant lies that say they are inadequate and must be doing this and that, using everything they bought at the last convention, lest they be failures.  

    I can’t count how often I have heard the question, “Am I doing enough?” seep into conversations, emails, message boards and eloops. How earnestly I want to reassure them that they are not only doing enough, they are doing more than they need to do.     The question I want to ask them is, “Can you remember anything you learned before sixth grade? What was the learning environment of that thing which you learned? Was it a rigid school setting, reading passages in order to fill out worksheets? Was it under the supervision of a hurried, harried task master? Or was it in an environment where your teacher (whether it be a teacher, parent, grandparent or neighbor) showed enthusiasm for the subject and a genuine interest in you?" Oh! How I wish we could grasp the fact that it isn’t the curriculum that does it.

It isn’t the method of homeschooling: Classical, Charlotte Mason, Delight Directed, whatever. It is the relationship: the peaceful, exciting, loving environment that will pull our children in and breathe life into the - sometimes sterile sounding - word “education.”    Studies show that, across the board, children in a school setting excel above and beyond their peers if they have parental involvement in their education. What are we so worried about? Why are we feeling so guilty and inadequate? Why are we beating ourselves up? Why are we listening to philosophies that only add to our feelings of inadequacy?     I think you know the truth. We all do. As I always tell my daughter: I don’t care a thing about purses. But if I spent too much time around people who did, if they talked about which purse they were carrying and showed everyone the great purse they just bought, then discussed the merits and benefits of this particular purse (each person expanding on all the seemingly important details of their purse) over time, I would be sucked in and would start caring about purses. I would start noticing purses, then noticing my own inadequate and rundown purse. I would then feel insecure because I needed a better purse. My purse isn’t right anymore. I would fall into a slippery pit of caring about what kind of purse I carried, and always thinking that maybe my purse wasn’t measuring up! Strange how easy it is to miss the big picture.

Untying burdens. That’s my heart. I wish I could spend more time at conventions edifying the moms God places in my path. My children are yet young, and my first priority is to train their hearts to love one another – incredible training ground for real life. I think about the few times my own parents traveled, and how abandoned I felt. So silly of me to feel that way. But I was only a child, and didn’t understand that they were edifying their own marriage with these getaways. However, I don’t want to make it a habit of leaving them even for the noble cause of blessing others with whom I so connect. However, when they are older, I will take them to conventions with me. Presently, I often must turn down many of the wonderful opportunities to go with Apologia. But I do hope that I can have some small impact on those lives I come across through my website, emails and this little blog~ !

My last convention for this year will be at CHEA in Ontario. I hope to see some of you there! 

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