Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fat Cat, Fat Rat

A little less than two weeks ago, without any fanfare, without advance notice, and a little bit on a whim, we began "official" homeschooling with Emma. It's not that I didn't know we would homeschool her; it's just that I was getting all worked up about the "perfect" start. Which date would be ideal? What would we begin with, exactly? How would it play out? My anxiety level over this self-imposed kick-off was through the roof. What if it didn't go well? What if the baby and the 2-year-old don't cooperate? What if I started with the wrong thing, went in the wrong order, did too much, didn't do enough, didn't convey things well enough for her to grasp....

And then there was the big, overarching fear: "What if this new step leads us into a place I don't really like as much as the current place, and I'm faced with the reality that it's going to be my life for the next, oh, say 25 years, like it or not?" I know, I know. How's that for setting myself up for a fall?

Which is why I decided I was being completely ridiculous. First of all, I'd been working with Emma all along, teaching her all sorts of lessons every day, both academic and otherwise. So what was the big deal about "officially" starting? It was admitting to myself that what has always been an idea in our heads was now going to become a reality. She couldn't just stay small forever. Someone has to teach her, and that someone is me. And whether I start now or a year from now, there are things she needs to learn. The life we've talked about since before becoming pregnant for the first time is upon us!

Understandably, this scared the bejeebies out of me. I was making it into a mountain because in my head, with my background, it was a mountain. I was not homeschooled. My husband wasn't either. For both of us, starting school for the first time was a huge deal. I'm not sure if that's the case with all 2nd generation homeschooling families (or even 1st generation), but for us, it's a major milestone.

Which is why I think God allowed us to just jump in with no warning. Soon after I'd given up on trying to figure out how and when to start, He allowed a perfect opportunity. On a Friday afternoon, no less. (How's that for unorthodox?) The little ones were napping, Emma was not, and the box-o-phonics-stuff was staring me in the face. So right then and there, we sat down and did a lesson. Done. Pressure off. Just like that.

Since then, I can say that I've made more of an effort to be intentional about what I'm teaching her each day, as circumstances allow. We don't always do our lessons at the same time every day, or even in the same room each time. But the self-inflicted pressure and fear are off my shoulders, and now I see that we're all going to grow with this process.

And as for "Fat Cat, Fat Rat"? That's the story she read today, all by herself! I can't tell you how rewarding that was for both of us. God is certainly faithful, especially when we're obedient to His call, even when we haven't a clue what we're doing.


Granny said...

CONGRATULATIONS! See? The water's fine!

Candace said...

How exciting!!! Isn't it amazing how the little things each day add up to much accomplished over the course of time. And I love when God graciously shows us that He has been working within us all along!

Happy schooling!

Grandfather (Stephanie's dad) said...

No! It's not schooling at all, as I've tried to tell new HSing moms for years.

Lifelong learners have never known any such distinction in knowledge as "academic" versus other forms of knowledge, especially at the grammar (basal) level of learning.

When we train up our kids at home, we can have an "8th-grade" level child ruminating (and writing) about, say, the 2007 US Appellate Court's ruling in "Parker v D.C." (where the court ruled that the 2nd Amendment Right to Keep & Bear Arms is an individual right, rather than merely collective.

This home-educated 13-14 year-old can read, think through, locagally analyse, and discuss the court's majority opinion (and dissenting opinion) just the way they do in constitutional law course at the graduate-school level.

(S)he can do so because when we train our children up at home (and on the farm, or in the shop or home-office, or what-have-you) we are offering 'Hebrew-classical education', not Greco-Roman "academics" (named after the grove of Akademos, where Plato taught).

I resist the oxymoronic but handy term "homeschooling" for that reason: it forces us to grab the sharp handles of the Greek humanist-collectivist freight train that is hurtling 180 degrees from where we want to go in Christ, holding our childrens' hands, for life.

We learn -- and they shall learn -- right until death. We know no other 'academy' than the world into which the King has placed us. The whole world, all the time, is where we learn.

Of course you home-educating parents know this already; it's just nice to reiterate it as often as we must, to sweep out some of the Greek terms...

My sword! I would unpeople Athens, but for my sword!!

Grandfather said...


If you wonder what locagally means: it's an ancient Hebraic term, roughly equivalent to "logically".

Chef Mama said...

Steph! That is so cool! Isn't God good? Just the other day we were talking about your family and I mentioned that Emma was about Kindergarten age and that you would homeschool (apologies for the poor sentence structure there, I am a product of public schools---LOL!). Natalie piped up (as if that's an oddity) with, "She's going to be homeschooled? Wow! That's so cool!"

And your dad is just way too smart for me! hee-hee! For us, it's been a matter of learning at home. As a trained public school teacher (certified, and perhaps certifiable), I have learned to toss out much of what I learned at college and relearn how to teach these girls. Of course, having children whose learning style goes completely against anything I learned in college helped me make that decision. And the JOY of being able to proclaim the Truth of our Savior in His Word has been beyond amazing. How refreshing to be able to say, "This is TRUTH" and not have to add, "The Bible says...." or "I believe...." or "In my opinion...." Pish-tosh on all of that!

You will do fine! San Antonio is such a great place to teach your kids at home. It's almost ACCEPTABLE and even admired among the public sector to "homeschool" here. Plus, with your dad around, your kids might just be running the court systems in a few years!

Sorry for such a long comment. I am just a wee bit passionate about the subject! AND about my dear friend beginning this journey (though truly you began the journey in November about 5 years ago).

Chef Mama said...

OH! One more thing. I was SO concerned that you were going to say Emma wanted a pet cat and you let her have one. hee-hee!

Stephanie said...

No, Lori, there will never be a cat living under my roof, I assure you. But we could've borrowed one of the ones from your neighborhood a few weeks ago to help with the fat rat that had taken up residence in our garage!

Kristen & Dave said...

Good for you! My 5-yr old is still waiting until I get brave enough to teach him. He'll take more work than the older 2 put together. I'll be happy if he reads by 8 :-) And I tagged you -- see my blog for rules.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

Well, I was going to say a simple and heartfelt congratulations!

But then I read your dad's thought (2 or 3 times) and...well...I think I need to read more, that's all. More than The Trumpet of the Swan and Johnny Tremain. *exhale*