I’m not really sure how to start this post. I really just want to share what God has done in our lives. Just as much for Josh and I to have to look back on as for other people. So I guess I will do just that!
I really want to be able to say “it all started…” but I can’t say for sure when it all started. Maybe it started the first day of Kindergarten. I was sending my baby away and that didn’t seem right. But, of course, all moms feel emotional on that day, and the emotions would wear off over time. They always do.
Maybe it all started when it took Ava, the child who would have been happy to LIVE at her preschool, a good 2 MONTHS to get over her anxieties regarding going to school. I use “get over” loosely, because she had anxieties until the end of the year, but at least she finally got to a point where she wasn’t crying when she went to bed at night AND when she got up in the morning. Maybe that’s when I started to feel that this might not be the path for us. But I’m not sure.
I KNOW that something started in my heart just before Christmas when the Newtown shooting occurred. It happened in every mama heart across the nation. But God did not give us a spirit of fear, and I didn’t want my daughter to have one about going to school.
My prayer, starting at that point and lasting the next few months, was that if we were supposed to homeschool, it would come as a revelation to Josh, not to me. He is the spiritual leader of our home, and he is also much more level headed about these things.
But no vision seemed to come to him, and I tried to remain silent. But my uneasy feeling about taking my baby to school grew.
And it wasn’t just safety. I didn’t like taking the back seat in my kindergartener’s life. Decisions about what she would learn, who she would interact with, what and when she would eat, they were all being made by another entity. I was getting her for a few hours in the evening, during which time she would emotionally throw up on me because she was so exhausted from being good all day.
But this is what we do. We let our children grow and fly out of the nest and if our culture says they are ready to do that at 5 years old then they certainly must be. And besides, using a local elementary school was going to help us connect with our community and shine the light of Christ, right?
But my uneasy feeling grew. And finally, I couldn’t take it any more on my own. A few months ago, I asked Josh to be praying about Ava’s schooling. At that point, I had NO IDEA what we were supposed to do, I just knew my soul was miserable. We looked at a couple private Christian schools (which would take a miracle to be able to afford), we contemplated trying to get her into a different county’s public school, and, of course, we lightly batted around the idea of homeschooling.
I felt such a peace just talking to Josh about it, I thought, maybe this is it. To be willing to do what God wants us to do, instead of just assuming we are supposed to take the standard route. Maybe we wouldn’t need to make a change, after all.
This is going to be a little out-of-order, but I have to mention now that, when I was a children’s minister 6 years ago, my supervisor’s wife was a teacher at a Christian Private School that used the Classical approach to education. We had them over to dinner, and she happily explained to me what that means. I found it fascinating, but since Ava was just a baby and I never anticipated being able to afford private school, I didn’t put too much thought into it.
OK, fast forward back to present day. When I asked Josh to pray with me on this subject, we looked at the Christian Classical academy we have here in our town. Of course it is uber expensive. However, through a Google search, I discovered that there are also classical homeschooling co-ops in our town. I filed this in my mind, but I didn’t make any moves right away since we were just in the prayer stage.
About a month ago, I e-mailed the director of one of the co-op groups to ask some preliminary questions. She responded and I loved her answers, but she asked if we could get together to talk so she could answer them more thoroughly. HOWEVER, she went ahead and told me that they didn’t have any openings in Classical Conversations at that time. She assured me that I shouldn’t be discouraged, that if this is what my family should do, God would make a way. But in my head, no opening meant no go.
I went ahead and set up a meeting with her (which, because of our schedules, would be a few weeks away,) but I continued to not take the thought of homeschooling seriously because, well, there were no openings, and I certainly don’t have the confidence to do something like this by myself!
I was busy and really didn’t think much more about it until a day or two before I met with Tina. I felt so conflicted. I really loved the concepts involved in the classical approach…but there were no openings! I was afraid that I would meet with this lady, fall more in love with the concepts, but not really be able to do anything about it.
So I prayed one of my most selfish prayers ever. In the shower, on the morning of that day. Last Tuesday. “God, if this is what you want us to do, please let there be an opening NOW.” I mean, I was straight up laying out a fleece. And my faith should be FAR beyond fleeces by now. Regardless of what God’s desires were, I did not expect Him to honor this prayer.
So I met with Tina. And, as I expected, I loved everything she had to say. From teaching the trivium to being able to go on vacation during the off (cheap!) season, I was loving the idea of this co-op. I felt blessed to get to have the conversation and see into another mom’s life. But I wasn’t optimistic.
But towards the end, she tagged on, “I JUST found out that our north location just had THREE spots open up.”
I couldn’t believe it. I felt tears. Ever since we have moved here, whenever we pray about making a change, we have felt the answer to be “No,” or “Wait.” We’ve been waiting on something, we weren’t even sure what, for five years! We have been waiting for so long for a door to open, I had forgotten what it feels like when one does!
And then I found my family sitting at a cross-roads. With a decision to be made. And rather quickly.
That night there happened to be a meeting for moms in my group to help each other plan the next school year. Josh and I dropped the kids off with friends who graciously agreed to it at the last minute, and we met the group. I left that meeting a little bit terrified because the topic had been picking a science curriculum. Josh left that meeting excited because he could do science with his kids!
So we prayed hard. We knew that, if we wanted one of those spots, we needed to register Ava as soon as possible.
There was a practicum scheduled for this week for classical homeschooling parents. They had an affordable Day Camp for the kids to go to during that time, but the Day Camp was full. I wasn’t sure if I could find someone to keep my kids for 3 whole days on such short notice. On Wednesday, more day camp spots opened up. I went ahead and signed myself and the kids up. I think it was Thursday that we finally were able to say to each other, “Yes! If the spot stays open long enough for us to register Ava, this is what we’re supposed to do!”
So we came to Friday, which was the last day of Kindergarten, and possibly Ava’s last day of going to that school at all. And I had it sort of built up in my mind as this bittersweet thing. I was going to have her wear the shirt she wore on the first day of school and the whole nine yards.
And she ended up running a temperature and I had to keep her home. And that seemed oddly fitting, too.
Last weekend, we just happened to be going “home” to see both sets of our parents, so we had the opportunity to tell them, in person, what was going on. It felt a lot like announcing a pregnancy. You know, “We’re having a…teacher!”
We spent the first 3 days of this week in our practicum all day, and it was so good! I learned so much about the classical approach, as well as time management in the home and such, and it was such a privilege to rub shoulders with ladies who have been home educating for as long as I’ve been alive.
And Ava spent her time learning about cartography and making friends and it was hard to believe the delightful child I was bringing home with me every day!
And I CANNOT possibly go into everything I’ve learned or what our plans are in this blog post, and I’m sure there are many posts to come on the matter. But I wanted to have our story of the last few months written out, as I tend to forget things. 🙂 I know we will get cheers from some people and “boo”s from some people and indifference from many for our decision, and I may get brave and try to address some Q & A from all camps of people on the blog, but for now, I just wanted to record the journey.
This is not, at all, the path that I would have expected God to take us down. As CS Lewis said, “you thought you were be being made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”