Stop, Listen, and ENJOY!

This is an article for the GUEST WRITERS section of Stephanie's website, The Broad Room.

During the seven years that I have known about homeschooling, I have researched, read, prepared.  And, in the last three or so years, I have experienced some of the practicalities of it with my two daughters, now four and six.
Although in one sense I do not feel like a novice, I also believe that we have barely started our journey. I do not say this because we are not into formal academics, as many refer to, but because we have just started to fully enjoy this life-changing choice.
I am barely now coming to a fuller understanding of thing we call ‘homeschool’ and what it  encompasses, and I am venturing into the many beauties that our homeschool brings; a homeschool inspired by Charlotte Mason, in a Spanish and English speaking family, in Houston, Texas, and especially in a family who tries to live christianity as they did in the first century.


Stephanie wrote something that caught my attention, she says:
I am here for you, to encourage and equip you so that you have the confidence to do what you know in your heart is the best for you, your own children, and your family, without comparing yourself to other families or succumbing to pressure from well-meaning peers.
Many of you may be past this stage of keeping up with the homeschooling Joneses (or maybe you have never been there).  As for me, I never thought of myself comparing to others, but on reflection, I believe that when I look at blogs, I see books, activities, projects, schedules, and everything others do, write, create, and show, I sometimes put some unnecessary pressure on myself or on the girls and family. I lose a bit of my focus, and the flashing lights stop me from fully savoring and appreciating our progress.
Just as I have grown spiritually since I became a Christian twelve years ago, I have also grown in several areas as a housewife, as a parent (not to the point of conforming – never! and always with plenty room to improve in this area).  So now I am starting to understand that this homeschooling business is another area in which the whole family grows, and that it is very much about our decisions (as Charlotte Mason liked to point out).

I believe you should let God guide you on those decisions, and you should also work on opening your body, soul and mind to the joys of learning. We do this through the learning of the Scriptures; we learn how to obey Him, please Him, worship Him, be of service to Him and to others, love Him and others, how to teach and give an explanation of the Hope who lives in us.


We discover the JOY of learning about God and His Word.
The joys of learning about the many ideas and truth, and beauty.
The joys found in the unnoticed blessings we have around us every day, the joys found in His Creation, in the many books at our disposal, and in other things.
The joy of moving, walking, swimming, jumping, exercising, breathing, playing.

I have just started to listen. I am trying to learn how to listen better. When I listen, I know when to demand from the girls and when to cut them some slack. I know when to be gracious and make an exception, or when I am being too soft and overlooking something I need to correct.
Having said all that, I am going to share some of our joys:

The first one is when I observe how the girls are both developing a love for their Lord. How they surprise me with singing some praise songs, talking about Him, asking questions, and always hungry and thirsty for His Word.
The habit of prayer before meals is one that is like music to my ears. All this fires my desire to teach them more, and specially to LIVE a life in Him so that people can see by our words and ACTIONS what we believe.


We also read whole books at home and I have to confess I am the first beneficiary of those readings. I try not to get upset if the girls do not seem to like some book or books I am fond of. It is not a checklist, they do not need to be like me. They love whole books anyway, and that to me is a joy. I am not trapped in reading those watered down, boring, and really tedious books that were called twaddle by Charlotte Mason.


My daughters are learning two languages, and I would like to learn a different one with them. However, another of my goals is to slow down. I have that mental picture and concept of enjoying things slowly, of not racing, like the hamster in that wheel, but of being like the cat in the hammock.

I am not trying to “produce successful individuals” at all cost, such as when you read articles like this about Why Chinese Mothers are Superior, I believe in God, ergo I believe children are His, not ours, our duty as parents is to teach them about Him the best we can, and what we do “academically” or “physically”, it is not to compete with others, it is to develop ourselves as persons, no matter if we work at Yale or in a factory as mere peons.
 
With these beliefs in mind, I have high expectations and a very humble (yet not small) goal. That of them living for the Lord and having as rich a life as they can by His standards, not by worldly standards.

I believe that at no other time in my life I have felt more important, content, active in educating myself, as now, when I am more and more invisible to the world but very loved and appreciated by non-famous people, and most of all, by Him, who knows all the stars in the firmament, all the hairs in our head, our thoughts and our worries, our joys and our dreams.

Many joys that could fill pages and pages…

our walks,
our meals together,
our conversations,
drawing,
cutting,
reciting,
writing,
bending our will,
asking for forgiveness,
cooking,
complimenting each other,
the many kisses, naps, trips, songs and music,
the battles of will and resisting doing what we have to,
the final conquering of those moments and the formation of habits, including the ones that get unraveled and need attention again,
the tears,
the smiles,
the laughter,
the changes,
achieving some goals that are so full of meaning just for us.

This is the life changing decision we call homeschooling, that is in constant movement, and so full of life.

I can only encourage you to stop, listen, and ENJOY



5 opinion(s):

Pam... said...

It's grace. So freeing. We do get trapped in the comparison mode. We want to encourage, yet sometimes our victories become a heavy weight to someone struggling. Grace.
You wrote something very important, because what it boils down to in us investing in the hearts of our children. Day to day, one small thing, one little accomplishment, one simply moment, one spark, a bond shared, a leaning together sharing in a good book.
God's Spirit reveals this to a mom. She rests in his gentle leading and rejoices in fulfillment. Thanks Silvia. Excellent.

Silvia said...

Thanks, Pam, as usual you are a great encouragement too. And that is TRUE, our victories can be hard for others. When I am down, it is very hard for me to read about the joys and beauties others show. But then I stop looking and remember they are "humans", ha ha ha. I disconnect and go back as you say to count the blessings, small or great they are all IMPORTANT to Him and to us, and we all have MUCH to be grateful for and to enjoy if we just stop and listen.
Hugs,

Ellen said...

Silvia, such a wonderful and thoughtful post! And I needed to hear it, too. Just this past month, I got especially bogged down on what was going on with math in the local ps and how one of my precious girls was "behind." Suffice it to say that I made both our lives miserable for two weeks while trying to force something she is just not ready for. And why?? Mercifully, God intervened and quietly suggested I move her back to where she had been and stop trying too hard. I did, and things are of course much better. We now go at her pace and not some artificial pace set by others.

Blessings, dear friend!

Silvia said...

Ellen, it is amazing. Things can be the same regardless of our children age, can´t they? I go through those phases too and my girls are very young, (sigh).
If it helps you (but you are also a former teacher, aren´t you? so you may know this best), PS say they "do" something, or their standards are this high, and when the students don´t meet them, they lower them, teach them shortcuts, formulas, etc, to just get a passing grade and they consider the goals achieved.
We, on the other hand, see some objectives and take them literally, to heart, and start to feel pressure when our children are not there.
I always like to say this because it is TRUE, I was an exemplar student but a math fiasco, the math teacher gave me a much higher grade that I deserved objectively. I could never make an A in math, not even a C, and I got a B plus or an A because he thought I was an exemplar student and I was not going to study math, and he did not want math to hold me back from doing something with my life and my other grades.
In short. If they are learning math, and moving fine within themselves, that is SUPER, PERFECT, WONDERFUL. And it may surprise you that at the end of the race, it is not that insufficient or behind for what they will study, and even compared to ps students.
I am GLAD, very GLAD, you have put learning back into your home, versus competition, scores, and external goals.
(I may have to come back to you for advice, I think I have "one little girl" who may be very much like yours, grin.)

Silvia said...

Ellen, it is amazing. Things can be the same regardless of our children age, can´t they? I go through those phases too and my girls are very young, (sigh).
If it helps you (but you are also a former teacher, aren´t you? so you may know this best), PS say they "do" something, or their standards are this high, and when the students don´t meet them, they lower them, teach them shortcuts, formulas, etc, to just get a passing grade and they consider the goals achieved.
We, on the other hand, see some objectives and take them literally, to heart, and start to feel pressure when our children are not there.
I always like to say this because it is TRUE, I was an exemplar student but a math fiasco, the math teacher gave me a much higher grade that I deserved objectively. I could never make an A in math, not even a C, and I got a B plus or an A because he thought I was an exemplar student and I was not going to study math, and he did not want math to hold me back from doing something with my life and my other grades.
In short. If they are learning math, and moving fine within themselves, that is SUPER, PERFECT, WONDERFUL. And it may surprise you that at the end of the race, it is not that insufficient or behind for what they will study, and even compared to ps students.
I am GLAD, very GLAD, you have put learning back into your home, versus competition, scores, and external goals.
(I may have to come back to you for advice, I think I have "one little girl" who may be very much like yours, grin.)

 

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