March 2, 2007

Is It All About Academics?

It so easy for me to get caught up in the academics of this homeschool journey. Being a task oriented person in a very OCD way, I love doing work book pages and checking things off lists. But I started down this homeschool road not because I wanted to imitate school at home, but because I wanted to guard the hearts of my children from the influences of our culture. I wanted to make sure that the things they learned about life and knowledge were based on truth and faith and learned at the appropriate time.

Academics are pretty low on my priority list compared to character building and a relationship with Jesus. So sometimes I look at my homeschool counterparts and I get a little panicky that my kids aren’t in the appropriate grade book for their age, haven’t learned a foreign language yet, or aren’t taking the bazillion co-op classes that are offered in my community. That’s when I start to feel overwhelmed and question my choices.

And then days like today happened.

Is there anything more cool than when your kids learn a new concept and take it one step further? We’ve been studying the parts of a friendly letter in our English books, you know, the heading, greeting, body…..all that stuff. I forced the kids to use what they learned to write a letter to their best friends. They whined and complained quietly to themselves, but they did it. School was done and off they went. Pretty soon I catch the 2 older ones at the computer, excitedly hovering over the keyboard. What were they doing? Writing letters of course.

They wrote to their favorite author, (Lemony Snicket) they wrote to their heroes, (Maria Tallchief the first African American prima ballerina and George W. Bush), they tracked down addresses on the web, read bios…..they learned, people, THEY LEARNED! My little bit of teaching set their minds to ticking and they took what I gave them and made it their own. I love that!

My son heard about a boy who wrote a book at the age of 15 (The books is called Eragon…haven’t read it yet) and was a bestselling author by 18. That inspired him so much that now he’s writing his very own book. He has illustrations, 10 chapters written, and the next book already forming in his mind. I love that he’s found something that delights him and is pursuing it on his own! And do you know how much teaching I can fit into his pursuit? We’ll do tons of editing (English, grammar, spelling, sentence structure), figure out how to send it to a publisher (research), and probably learn to deal with rejection (character building), learn how to start something and see it through to the end (leadership skills) and build our prayer life while we wait for a response from the publisher.

So, I guess I say ALL THAT to say this (as much to myself as to anyone)…….don’t compare your homeschool journey with anyone else. If your kids are learning you’re doing a good job. If your kids are taking it deeper, well, you’re doing an even better job!

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