I went to our homeschool convention last month and had my nice little spreadsheet of what each child would be doing next year and what curricula I needed to buy. It was even color coded (to help my brain make sense of it all). I successfully purchase all I’d need for my plan. Even got some of used for a great price. I ordered all my BJU books that we’d be using with Homesat next year. I came home feeling like it had been a successful venture.
And then it hit.
We had a disciplinary issue with two of the children which led to a LONG talk with one of them. This is the child that keeps everything inside until it can’t help but spill over with a gush. Meaning we had a LONG talk about everything under the sun. She shared her heart and lots of tears. When we finally wrapped it all up, my heart was changed. And burdened for the many areas I was missing the mark. I realized that this daughter (and I’m sure the other children) didn’t feel the love of her mommy on a daily basis. She felt like a cog in the wheel. Like I was so busy with baby and household duties and ‘doing school’ that I didn’t have time for her.
Well, the Lord worked on my heart after this. I realized that the real reason I homeschool had gotten lost in the shuffle. I realized that the ‘big rocks’ of my life had gotten forced out by the pebbles and sand. The grit of the daily grind, if you will. I’ve long known that I have a tendency to be more of a manager than a mommy, but after this heartfelt talk, I knew it had to change in a drastic way.
So I just sat back and sought the Lord as to what needed to change. I realized that I needed to actually live out my reasons for keeping my children home. My relationship with them needed to be a much bigger priority and bigger chunk of my time. The pace of our home life needed to slowdown and focus on the BIG ROCKS….the eternal things.
I stopped to ponder what my problem was. One huge area that stood out was the way our homeschooling was working. I thought I had struck the perfect balance for school. But it wasn’t the perfect balance for a family.
When I started out 7 years ago, I was drawn to the programs that really ditched the conventional workbook approach. I wanted my child to learn via hands-on endeavors. I wanted us to have fun and learn at the pace that fit our lives. I wanted to interact with my children.
Somewhere along the way that changed. We had lots of littles and it was finally the year to start Eventide in kindergarten and I just couldn’t seem to get around to teaching her. Enter BJU Homesat to save the day! Several friends used it and I was pleasantly surprised by how well-done the program was. So we signed up.
We have never used it for every subject, usually just 3-4 classes for the older children. I have taught Bible, history and science. Let me just say that I still think BJU Homesat is great! I think they do a very professional job of everything. But the downside for ME with using this curriculum was that it made me very driven to get through the book. The kids would sit at their little TV stations, often with headphones on, with me checking to make sure they were paying attention. They didn’t love it, but ‘appeared’ to be learning. I ‘felt’ like we were accomplishing something. But my little eclectic homeschool had lost a lot of the joy of learning and traded freedom for a yoke that became heavy on our hearts and lives. I know that using BJU Homesat didn’t MAKE us do this, but I did this while using BJU Homesat.
I should add that I would probably do this with any ‘program’. Whether it’s Classical homeschooling or following Ambleside Online’s plan or Abeka or some other program where there was a list of things to do. Something about being part of a predetermined program brings out the manager in me, and sucks out the mommy! I know many people will never have this struggle, but I have found it to be true for me. Just so I’m making myself clear, I have the problem NOT the curriculum. But I do have to steer in a direction that will bring out the best in me and my children.
So what the Lord has guided me to do is cancel our Homesat for next year. I cancelled the books I ordered, although I will still use some of the books for a few subjects in which I will do the teaching. I am in the process of deciding what my older 2 children will use for Bible, Writing and Literature. Right now, there are still several gaps on my previously-completed-color-coded spreadsheet.
But God is so good to guide the way. The word says in Matthew 6:33 that if we seek Him and his kingdom first, all these things will be added to us. I want this to be totally true in our lives. For myself, my children and for our homeschool.
So how do you keep the BIG ROCKS in the jar of life? How do you ensure that your daily calendar is filled with eternal priorities? Would love to hear how this looks practically speaking.