Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Keep it Simple, Keep it Natural, Keep it Honest - part 1

Photo from: ‘The Mouse Family ABC’ by Rosalind Sutton, published by Brimax Books, 1989
 Keep it Simple, Keep it Natural, Keep it Honest - 4 parts


I was asked to speak at a Homeschool Mums' Encouragement Day last week, and was asked to talk about something that the host had found particularly helpful a few years ago when I shared it with her.   So, I went looking through my files and found the notes, and was challenged by them - not because it was a hugely spiritual discourse, but because I saw that we need to do some things differently in this next season of parenting and homeschooling.   Sadly, I can see too easily what we did 'wrong' and badly, and can't always see the good things that we achieved and learnt.    Our homeschooling journey has been a mixture of both, and this year it's time to re-assess those things.  

This is my gap year.  Know what that is?   It's a year off between one season of study (high school for example) and the next season of study (university, for example).  It's becoming quite common these days for young adults to take a gap year before heading for Uni - to earn some money, get some perspective away from studying, grow up a bit, etc.   We're not doing a lot of homeschooling, just lots of pre-school fun stuff, painting, drawing, paper-craft, learning some sounds, counting, etc.   So, in this gap year, I'm taking some time to think and pray and learn about education, again - what it is and what it isn't - and how to do it more successfully, in God's eyes. 

Last week, I listened to a good friend talk at the same Homeschooling Encouragement Day that I was asked to speak at, and she made some very challenging points.   We both talked about what success is, in God's eyes.   We hadn't conferred with each other at all, so that was encouraging, that God was saying the same thing, in different ways, through both of us, to both of us, and to eight other mums, and more besides, with the talks being recorded for those who couldn't get there.  

What is success in God's eyes?   Is it academic achievement?   Is it the ability to get your children into Uni and complete a degree?   Is it your children becoming well-known for prowess in music or art or craft or sport?   Is it being well known and liked in the homeschooling community or at church or in your local community?   Or, is it raising Godly children - children who know Him, love Him, honour Him and obey Him?

Psalm 78:5-7   He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.    7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.

My friend spoke about children who've been with Jesus, and that if we abide with Jesus as we nurture them, then they will have been with Jesus.   That's what turned a rag-tag bunch of uneducated disciples into world-changers, because they had been with Jesus. 

Acts 4:13  When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

My friend also talked about the fact that we worship what we focus on, and sometimes we can worship something and someone other than God in our homeschools.   We can become focused on academic achievement and proving to others that our children are learning.   Sometimes we focus on making our children, our family, our homeschool, fit a certain image, a graven image.   And what we worship, we make sacrifices for, sometimes sacrificing our children, our marriage, our relationships, and other things, to achieve our goals.   Very challenging.  

So, part of my thinking process is thinking about what my philosophy of homeschooling is for us, our children, our family, and it's been helpful to go back over the notes I wrote a few years ago, and to find that I still agree with the three basic keys that I found helpful then and will carry into this next season.  

It's important to recognise what our homeschooling philosophy is (we all have one) and to let God change it where necessary.    What we believe, and what we love and therefore worship, will determine what we do - our priorities, our goals and our day to day actions.  What we believe and what we worship will also determine our long-term success or failure.

Keep it simple                                               Keep it natural                                                 Keep it honest

These are three keys that God has shown me.  I’ll elaborate on each of these and perhaps it will encourage you in thinking about your journey - past, present or future.  
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