"You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.
And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house." ~Doctrine and Covenants 93:42-43
Anyone who knows me knows that I am what the world calls a "strict" mom. My kids do chores, have rules to follow, and are not spoiled nor given everything they want. We have a very large family, and we have many children to care for, so we do our best to supply them with their needs and many of their wants, but we literally cannot meet all of their requests.
We also don't feel that it is good for children to have everything they want when they want it. We want them to learn patience, self-denial, and discipline. We assign our younger ones to the care of our older ones, because we want them to learn to serve unselfishly, and to sacrifice.
The way I have tried to manage our home and family has been orderly and intentional. I have done all I can to make our home environment rich in art, music, spirituality, and culture. I have always wanted my children to learn how to be truly good, live with integrity, and love God.
But there is one area that I have neglected, and made the mistake of expecting things to grow organically, without effort from me.
I have neglected my children academically.
I have been homeschooling a long time-- a long time! Since 1999, I have had my children home with me for the purpose of being educated under my care. I have often explained one of my reasons for homeschooling as feeling that the education of my children is my God-given responsibility and stewardship.
So how could I have neglected the education of my children in this way???
To make a very long story short, I came to believe that my children did not need my instruction-- that they would learn all they needed to learn on their own. I felt that if I set the example of working on my own projects, that they would follow suit and work on their own.
In many ways, things did work well. If I practiced the piano, my children would clamor to play the piano. If I spent hours a day reading, my children would spend hours reading.
But there was one element that did not work out in a positive way. My projects tended to be on the computer. I was doing big things! I was connecting homeschoolers, building a community and network of homeschooling families, planning and running events. It was fun and exciting! I was busy and happy. My kids were smart, they were reading, having fun, learning various subjects, and discussing. But they were not receiving instruction and guidance-- academically-- from me.
The one thing I was not doing, was homeschooling.
The one thing I was not doing, was homeschooling.
For those who do not homeschool, who might read my blog, you need to understand that there is a movement in the homeschool world that has gained a lot of traction. It's called "Unschooling."
I want to make it crystal clear that I am NOT here to discredit unschooling, or say that no parent should use unschooling ideals in their homes. I could never, ever in good conscience tell a parent that what they are doing in their own God-given stewardship over their children's education is lacking. I believe in 100% homeschooling freedom, and I find compulsory schooling laws to be unjust and draconian.
I can, however, with conviction, say that unschooling did not serve my own family well.
I wish to cover my reasons over the course of time here on my blog, so I will elucidate on my personal experiences unschooling in the future. More on that to come...
Steering the Boat
"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;" ~1 Nephi 1:1
My oldest children were by now in their teens. They were good kids, they were thinking about great things, and reading difficult books. However, they were so independent and strong-willed that they would not submit academically to anyone-- not to me, as their mother, nor to the mentors that taught them in their weekly classes with our homeschool group. They were the masters of their educations, only they were now prideful and unteachable.
Frankly, they did not know all that they did not know! They had no course, and did not know how to navigate, even if they did have a plan. They simply floated along the waves of their present interests, and were going nowhere. Adulthood was waiting on the horizon, and they were clueless on how to meet it.
At about this same time, I read a phrase written by a fellow homeschooler who had children slightly older than myself. What she wrote rang in my ears, and caused me to begin to change my own course.
"We cannot leave our children to float adrift in their educational boats."
Like a clash of thunder, I knew that I needed to step up and help my children steer their boats, before they drifted further and further off the course I knew that God and I wanted for them.
So after more than a decade of "homeschooling," I found that I needed to start over. I needed to stop focusing on other homeschooling mothers and their children, and "behold my own little ones."
The beam in my own eye had to be addressed, at last. It was a path of humiliation and regret, but at last I was going to face the fact that I had neglected the education of those precious ones I had been given stewardship over.
Which is the course upon which I am still finding my way today.
Thank you for joining me on the voyage.