Thursday, September 25, 2008

The rewards of patience with our kids

Christopher chatting with his Journalism teacher and her son at the open house after his graduation ceremony.

Have you ever noticed with the flu that as you are recovering, it is "two steps forward and one step back"? I felt so much better yesterday evening and then awoke around 2:00 this morning with horrible dizziness and nausea. Christopher arrived home at 2:30, quite surprised to find me awake and watching The Worship Network on TV.

I forget what station it is on but I first found great peace through those programs when we lived in Detroit and I couldn't sleep at night for months due to hurting my back... their website is you can stream online or watch a video ...can't recommend them enough. I'm feeling stronger again (although still dizzy), so much so that I was able to take a shower this evening. The entire household is rejoicing in that event. Even Sasha was sniffing the air! :)

Anyway, I digress. Since his classes end around 10:00 pm four nights a week, Christopher travels from the community college to the University to study at their libraries. He was up so late (early?) to catch up on study time he missed with a much lighter case of this flu. I'm still dealing with getting to sleep while he is out so late and all that... it seems we are always in some school of faith, doesn't it?

I was thinking of Christopher when I read Cheryl's post today, where she shares about the challenges of homeschooling one of her sons. As I have mentioned many times, we started homeschooling in second grade due to his severe ADHD symptoms and our unhappiness at how the public school system wanted to handle it.

While I enjoyed homeschooling very much and I will never regret it, there were days I seriously thought the choice would be between putting him back in school and letting them drug him... or me being put on some serious medication.

I think of that now as he's getting A's in science and math, absolutely loves Physics, and is considering changing his major to engineering. Um... engineering? The same kid who spent three years studying Saxon 1/2? The boy who threw his books and broke his pencils in frustration because he just COULD NOT DO MATH? Yes.

I was so frustrated those first couple of years we homeschooled until the day I really felt the Lord speaking to me. I didn't hear an audible voice but instead that "still small voice" from within. I will never, ever forget the advice as I knew it was Wisdom Himself. His words... "Don't become an expert in homeschooling, become an expert in your student." From that day I still learned a lot from homeschooling books, tapes, and experts but I took their advice and day by day... started doing what worked for us.

That included... um, yes, I'll tell you... don't faint away... no math for a couple of years. None... zip.. nada. Math became such an issue in our school that it was getting in the way of everything else. And that year we spent in Western Michigan, the year with no income and we didn't know where God was leading us? That was the year we spent entirely reading good books, learning lots of history, spending hours and hours at the shores of Lake Michigan... and learning from life itself. Our "Year of the Unschool"...

Now we did join a co-op when we returned here and he had remarkable teachers in addition to what we learned at home. The woman in the picture above was one of two homeschooling moms he recognized during his graduation speech. She taught him Journalism. She changed the way he looked at learning (along with the homeschooling mom who was his Debate instructor and coach). Both women who gave a lot of time and effort to the homeschool co-op.

Perhaps the greatest gift homeschooling brought us was the freedom to learn on his timetable. He was given the time and the space to excel... in his time. What I realize now is all those days we spent just talking about life and nature and history and literature and the latest Discovery channel shows... he was learning a lot. Without those days and that time, he would never have survived his "education" until he reached that point he could "do math".

How amazing it was a few days ago when he was telling me how excited he is studying Physics. "I can SEE it, Mom. I can visualize in my mind the math when it is worked into a Physics problem." He has to work long hours at studying but he gets it... and he loves it.

It was worth the challenging lessons and all that time spent talking and sharing... and learning together. It was worth the money paid for him to spend his senior year of high school taking classes at the community college (so he could catch up on math and lab science). Are there still areas we missed in those years of homeschooling? Yes... but nothing that couldn't be made up at the community college or by extra reading. But at his time and on his internal schedule. That's the way God made Him and He certainly understands.

I'm still getting used to this engineer idea. I'm married to one. I have a son-in-law with a PhD in Statistics. Could I really handle another math-type person in the family?

I think I'll call Stephanie and talk about decorating or the latest book we read... yes, that is what I'll do.


freetobeme - Anita said...

Oh you are a delightful person! I envy you homeschooling Christopher. I would have loved it (well, maybe not the frustrating days). It just wasn't the thing to do yet. I would have loved discovering new things with my children. I hope you'll get completely better soon.

Sage said...

The one thing I would have changed about raising my kids, is that I would have homeschooled them. It just wasn't done in my circles at that time, I knew no one who did so. But now I know scores of homeschoolers, and I so respect them and their choice.

So I enjoy hearing of other folk's journies through homeschooling. And I enjoy your blog every day....hope you are feeling better!


Sage said...

OOOOPS! Should be JOURNEYS....!

Anonymous said...

Brenda - Thanks for the encouragment to become a student of your child. I have a friend who is really struggling homeschooling her daughter. I am planning to pass your words of wisdom on the her. It is so helpful to hear from someone further along on the journey and see that if we are faithful, He is faithful. Nancy (