Such empathy and wisdom I received on that last post regarding our "extra money," and I’m truly thankful. Praise God that we were able to get done what was needed, and to do some of the things we wanted to do as well, like sock some away in a rainy day fund.
We are touring tropical south Texas this week and enjoying beautiful South Padre Island. Our plans to tour the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge were squelched after finding out that their trails are closed in summer. I guess the animals have more sense than people do and take on more indoor activities during 100-degree days.
I saw in one of my daughter’s magazines the story of a homeschooler who lived on a boat with her family for two years. Though we don’t quite “roll” like that, as the kids say, we have a unique opportunity in our homeschooling journey. My husband travels extensively for work, and during the summer we like to hit the open road with him. I sometimes imagine that if we weren’t as involved in some activities at home, we’d probably pack up the car and school on the road. Then I think, who am I kidding? Loving a routine and a certain amount of structure as much as I do, I’m sure I’d find a reason to stay home just for the sake of not having my flow disrupted. I sometimes envy homeschoolers who can simply flow with the tide. My formal education has taught me to think very linearly, so I struggle with teaching styles where gaps are a part of the methodology. Recently, on a Yahoo! list, one of the homeschooling parents shared a similar experience, and talked about finding her alter ego in Grace Llewellyn’s Teen Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Education (I hope I got the title close to right). That might be yet another read to stick a bookmark in this summer.
Since our homeschooling journey began, we’ve also had the luxury of being around a substantive community of homeschoolers, even minority homeschoolers. I point out the minority homeschooling community because often I hear other non-whites share that it can be difficult for their kids to find other kids who look like them. The consequential impact is that they are the only ones in their normal peer groups (neighborhood, church, etc.) who’s homeschooled, and they’re the only person of color in their homeschooling community. It’s challenging to sell them on the joys of homeschooling when they perceive they’re being isolated (whether or not their perception is realistic). So as I was saying, we have always had access to a very diverse community. Our church, to have 3000+ members, had a homeschooling group, and we briefly attended another start-up church that also had a substantial community of homeschoolers. They actually held a “Homeschool Sunday” service complete with a raffle, and we won a desktop computer!
I don’t take lightly the environment God has placed in our path to help make our journey successful. I see the plight of people who join virtual groups and/or send e-mails simply looking for support and encouragement. Sadly enough, I also see the alternative to the blessing we have. Our kids are typical suburban kids, naïve in many things and intentionally sheltered from others. Many of the children they attend church with, however, reap the benefits of inner city education; most are behind grade level in their reading skills, consequently putting them behind in everything else. They mumble, if they speak at all, and apathy is the order of the day. In the last year that we’ve worked with our 13-14 year old Sunday School class, we’ve used science experiments to bring Biblical concepts to life for the children. It’s been a wonder to see their eyes, at least temporarily, light up, and I want so badly to believe that seeds are being planted. Fertile ground, Lord, and not rocks, and not sand.
I am thankful that we’ve had a relatively easy road to travel. Though we’ve had our share of left-handed remarks and sideways glances (we both come from families of public school teachers, and my husband works in psychiatric medicines, where Andrea Yates is the predominant image for homeschooled families), the Lord has truly blessed us. But as I take stock of the opportunities our kids sometimes take for granted—the travel, the welcomed smiles, and even parents who nurture our children’s gifts and talents enough to keep educating ourselves—I think there is a larger purpose in our journey. What we’ve learned will touch many, for a number of seasons to come. I pray that you’ll keep investing in your children and in yourself, wherever your path of learning takes you. You never know in what zone of darkness your light will shine, and shine, and then shine some more.