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Angela Wells blogs at The Wellspring of Life. She is fearfully and wonderfully made by the ONE true God. She is His adopted child and seeks to follow and serve Him daily. Angela is the wife to her wonderful hubby, Jon, and is blessed to be called Momma by Jeremiah, Caleb, Rachel, and Eden. She is a homeschooler and adoption/orphan care advocacy is her great passion.
Not very long ago, that would definitely be a question I would have asked. I mean really… who on Earth would want to do such a crazy, foolish thing? Having 8 years as an educator under my belt, my experience with homeschooled students then entering the public school system was less than stellar. In my opinion, these pour souls were grade levels behind their peers and were socially awkward.
Then, the 2009-2010 school year changed everything! As an elementary music teacher, I was very accustomed to fighting for my position, my program, and well, anything to do with the fine arts. Unfortunately, a new administration entered my building and the arts weren’t even on the radar anymore. In fact, nothing positive seemed to be, and thus, morale dropped to an all time low. Combine that with ridiculous bureaucratic paperwork, crazy red tape, and increased behavior issues among students, and all the life and joy was sucked out of teaching.
Not going to lie, the state of my heart may have compounded the situation. The heart that beat so strongly in my chest was split in two directions – at home with my hubby and lil’ guy Caleb and what seemed a world away in Ethiopia with two orphans who had yet to be revealed to our family. I already had such Mommy guilt leaving Caleb everyday. It seemed that I was giving the “best” of me to strangers’ children, and my son got the leftovers. Then, November 10, 2009, I laid eyes on a picture of my sweet Jeremiah and Rachel for the first time. Jeremiah looked like a very scared little boy who was faking a very hard, brave face. His arm was draped around Rachel in a protective embrace. She had her head cocked sideways, with a bit of her tongue sticking out, but the most striking feature were her captivating eyes. It was as if they were asking, “Will you love me and take me home?”
Knowing that the bonding and attachment process takes time, patience, and concerted effort, I knew my 6 weeks family leave would not be enough time to form the healthy lasting relationships I desired with my children. Already disgruntled with my work situation, it was a no-brainer. I needed to be home with my two new little ones who had already lost so much and with my boy Caleb who was about to have his world completely rocked.
Has been coming home easy? Not everyday. Has it been the best decision for our family? Undoubtedly! So, now when asked, “Why Homeschool?”, I can say because it has allowed my family to grow so very close. The kids are best friends and buddies and get along so very well. Sure, there is a squabble every now and then, but their preferred playmates even in a crowd are always each other. That makes my heart happy!
Another advantage of being home has been the allowance it has given Jeremiah and Rachel to assimilate to a new country, culture, and language in their own time. We didn’t rush formal schooling. Instead, the initial months were spent building healthy relationships, discovering all things new, and in language acquisition. Even now, almost 3 years later, they each have their academic struggles, but their strides are amazing. We keep plugging along everyday in a non-threatening, loving environment. Successes are celebrated, and failures don’t stop us in our tracks. Homeschooling has definitely been the best decision for our family.
My advice to a new homeschooler:
1. Enjoy your children!
- You would think this would be a given, but it is easy to get caught up in curriculum, lesson plans, unrealistic expectations, and playing the “comparison game.” Remember that your babies are only little once. Take time to invest in their lives and train their precious hearts in the way they should go. Read the Bible together, play games, do crafts, visit the zoo, etc. Making memories is so much more important than completing every page in a workbook, dotting every i, and crossing every t.
2. Find a support system.
- Whether you find an online forum, a co-op, trusted friends, or a support group, don’t walk this journey alone. There’s no need to be a martyr. As in everything, I love the ahead, beside, and behind model. Many have walked the homeschool road ahead of you. Reach out to them and draw on their experience before you find yourself floundering and ready to give up on it all. Find other homeschool Mommas who are in the same season of life that can easily relate to your day-to-day goings on. You will walk the journey together and be a constant source of encouragement to one another. Finally, there is always someone right behind you. Share your wisdom with them. Recall where you have been, what you have learned, and be excited about where you are going. That bit of enthusiasm may be just the hope that someone behind you needs.
- Ask God for His guidance as you educate your children. I pray regularly for discernment, clarity, and peace in my decisions. Wisdom is a gift God freely gives if we only ask. Trust His leading and be obedient to His will.