We have been homeschooling for 14 years – starting with Josh at 4.5yo and Jess at 3yo. I never intended to homeschool Jess at that age but she wanted whatever her brother had. Nomi was 1 and Daniel was yet to come.
A few years ago Joshua moved on from being a full time homeschooled student to a full time university study – there wasn’t much of a transition period for him – he just kept on studying and I kept on helping him where he needed help. The time has come for Jess to now move on into the next season of her life as well – but for her it has been very different processes. I’d like to share some of our journey.
Early December last year the girls were sick and they spent most of their days resting in the lounge room. Jess came up to me and said she didn’t know what she should be doing. I replied that she was sick and should be resting. She said she had more energy than that and didn’t know if she should be doing school work or making Christmas gifts. I said I thought we had done with school for the year and to go and do some sewing. Her reply (and her tone) sticks with me so clearly…
“So that’s it! I’m done! Just like that! No more school! I’m done! It’s over!” The tone was incredulous, and slightly shocked. We realised that it all seemed a little anticlimactic. Suddenly the end had come and though we knew she was in ‘year 12’ we weren’t really prepared for that to be the end. We both shrugged, and off she went to work on her sewing projects.
That wasn’t the end of it though.
Since then we have had numerous conversations with Jess not knowing what she should be doing. All very normal stuff for a 17year old to contend with except in her mind she hadn’t done a good job with homeschooling, and she didn’t think she had finished, or finished well. The long and short of it was that we decided that we would set some specific goals for the first two terms of this year, and she would continue to homeschool.
And yet each day, each assignment was a struggle. Both of us reached a point this week where we took ourselves to the Lord desperately needing answers. When we met the next day Jess was a different person – she had stayed up the night before praying, reading the Bible and journaling all that was inside her. She had a peace on her face that made me think that maybe the conclusions I had come to were not so necessary but they also had come about after a time of prayer so I decided to present them to her anyway.
We talked for one and a half hours – most of that was sharing my journey with her – the things that I have been feeling in this process, my thinking behind my decisions, my regrets about her homeschooling journey (a story for another day), and memories of my finishing school and the emotions that I had at that time. We talked about the philosophy of discipleship and how end results will look different than those who are educated within the philosophy of the government education department. I then shared with her my conclusions and where I thought we should go from here:
- There are seasons in our life, and our age or more importantly our maturity, affects the focus of our heart – it is time for Jess to move on to a different season of her life.
- There are certain disciplines that Jess doesn’t want to let go and needs to continue with (Bible Study, Math, Piano, Reading good books)
- My recommendation was to take the year to fill her days with delight directed activity (be that projects or continued learning – but the things her heart delights in).
- Be aware of what is in your hand – and develop that. Continue with the things that you can see, until God gives you a different picture.
At the end of this conversation with the sunniest of smiles she looked up and said, “Thanks Mum!” There was a peace and acceptance that had been missing for a long time.
Though this process has been exhausting it has also been a special time where we have both shared our hearts, where we have been able to understand each other, share our weaknesses with each other and be there to encourage and strengthen each other. For it truly has been a two way process. I have never parented a daughter of 17 before; she has never been a daughter of 17 before!! We are treading new ground together.
We have homeschooled four kids for so long – but now there are two: Naomi and Daniel.
But that isn’t really the truth of the situation either. Josh and Jess, regardless of how they spend their hours, have a heart to be shaped, moulded and encouraged by their parents. We may homeschool just two – but we continue to disciple four!