I thought it was appropriate to entitle this post "Places of Faith" as a continuation of my "Places of Trust" post. In as much as I made plans for several changes I anticipate occurring on next year, there have also been places where things have changed–some out of necessity–totally outside of me. So, I trust Him to continue to firm up and also confirm my plans, but I also have faith that the other changes that are happening are in His will and for my best interest.
As one example, I posted in "Places of Trust" that I was in a quandary about a math program for the oldest as we move forward. After I wrote, I decided (I’m sure at the urging of the Holy Spirit) to check out Teaching Textbooks again. I had looked at these products after seeing high praise on a loop to which I belong, but immediately gasped at the price and moved elsewhere. I am spoiled by Charlotte Mason’s approach, which has always allowed me to come out on the cheap end in terms of buying curriculum. Last year was the first year that I spent more than $300, and that was largely my own choice–with a little extra money in the homeschool supply store, I went
a little crazy. Anyway, I made up my mind to invest, but next year. Then, as if sent for divine confirmation, Sally came back by and suggested Teaching Textbooks–what a confirmation! As I said to her, I still wasn’t looking forward to spending that kind of money just for math, but I’d rather the oldest have a good experience with math than to hang onto dollars while we both spend the year frustrated.
This brings me to where we are. With our previous math program, the oldest soared in the initial, broken-down pieces of Algebra, but in trying to put it altogether as a prelude to polynomials (no alliteration intended), something got lost. After repeating myself ad nauseum, my neck and shoulders would hurt from stress. Her frustration manifested itself in different ways–apologies, tears, and I’m sure self-doubt. The one feature of Teaching Textbooks that I originally thought was overkill is what now appealed to me–the CDs that allow her to repeat a lecture again and again and again. So, I talked with the superhero, who I’m sure has grown weary of me venting, and I finally bit the proverbial bullet and spent the money–this year instead of next. We’ve not started using it yet as I just got it this week, but the oldest looked at it and felt good about a program that allows her to take math at a different pace.
Here’s the kicker: because of the differences in curriculum, we went from Algebra 1 to Pre-Algebra. This was definitely my issue, not hers, but I was so pleased and proud that we were getting ahead on math. When I think about it, it was probably some leftover residue from my engineering upbringing; I am admittedly still navigating my way through her interests versus my own plans, and what all that means for the years to come. What this whole school year (thus far) has done for me is to heighten my awareness about how necessary it is for us to get out of the way as parents. It is ironic to me that traditional teachers give home educators no credit for their abilities, but I question whether most of them have to complete the amount of gut-wrenching soul searching that is required of us if we are to truly "let go and let God." Oh, it sounds really good, but the reality of being stripped of all my junk in the process of becoming the parent, and moreso the teacher, that He wants me to be? It’s more than a notion. I stand back sometimes in awe at the kids as I begin to even try to get my head around what I, and what you as a homeschooling parent, have signed up for. It’s amazing the things that God calls us to do, and if we could do it ourselves, it probably wasn’t His calling.
The other major change that seems to be happening quite outside of me is our son becoming my assistant teacher. I have heard of older children taking primary responsibility for the younger children’s learning, but I always dismissed the concept as something that only happens in big families. Well, while we were away with Hurricane Ike with Dad off from work, the five-year-old, in all of her little-girl candor, told me that she liked Dad better as her teacher. I would have been offended, but then I had to remind myself that I don’t exactly skip to the table to teach phonics, so this mutual enjoyment could work for me, too. I think what she mostly appreciates is having someone new with her rather than boring old Mom (smile). Once we returned home, our son continued to enjoy reading aloud Dr. Dolittle with her, and eventually took over. I mentioned elsewhere that he’s really enjoying a "cruise-like" type of year, and if the truth be told, his motives probably have more to do with occupying himself than with more noble goals. Incidentally, his ability to cruise is based upon the oldest’s work load at his age–my only point of reference. Now that I see him completing the same load in a significantly shorter time, I’m even more aware of her dawdling. He’s not her primary teacher, but I appreciate his willingness to help her by reading to her. She enjoys him, which she also made sure I knew, and it is also training him in the sensitivity that he’ll need as a husband and father one day. I won’t press him to work with her past his own desires and joys; his help could end tomorrow. Yet, I’ll enjoy this season while it lasts, and yet again, step out of the way, receive my heavenly instructions, and watch God move in all of them.