It happens every year about this time. I realize that we are approaching the end of the school year and we haven't accomplished as much as I would have liked. It doesn't matter that we school year-round, so the end of the school year simply means that there will be a change in our extra-curricular activities … we go from drama and dance to Vacation Bible School preparation … but that is another story in itself.
This year is different, though. Now that I have my first high-school student, I am feeling the pressure to “keep up” with what her counterparts in public school, or even other homeschoolers, are doing.
But, that is not why I am educating my children at home.
All of this contemplation has led me to really search out what it means to be educated. I looked up the definition … and the word means exactly what I thought it meant, but what does that really mean for my kids?
Simply put, what is it that I want my children to know before they graduate? More importantly, what do they need to know before they leave the safety of our home and make their way in the world? Does my responsibility for my children's education end with a list of courses to finish and credits to list on a transcript? Somehow, this seems to miss out on the whole point of what I have spent the last 10 years doing … or at least aiming to do. I don’t want my kids to leave home thinking that their education has been limited to the time we have spent doing bookwork.
With that in mind, I am working on a list of the “things” I want the kids to know or understand before they leave the nest. This list probably won't scratch the surface of everything that they really need, but I am just going to start and see how far I get.
To my children:
· Each of you is loved unconditionally. The love that your Daddy and I have for you is in no way tied to anything you might (or might not) accomplish ~ academically or otherwise. But, never forget that we do not love you perfectly … we don’t have that ability. We have made mistakes and we will continue to make mistakes. Our mistakes don’t mean that we love you any less, they simply mean that we are human.
· I want the three of you to learn to love each other unconditionally. Someday you just might need each other … don’t wait for that day to come to become friends.
· On the same train of thought as #1, you each need to understand that you are not the center of our world. I don’t believe that God ever intended it to be that way. Someday, you will step out of our home and make your own way in the world. When you do, it will go easier for you if you already understand that you aren’t the center of the universe. This may not make sense to you now, but someday it will.
· I want you to know the value of hard work. Sometimes teaching you this seems like a losing battle to your daddy and me. But we will continue plugging along. You may not enjoy hard work now, but I pray that you learn to do it anyway. (See Colossians 3:17)
· I also want you to know the beauty of serving others. This is something that I already see each of you embracing, and I am extremely proud of you for it. Just don’t lose the joy you now find in service. I don’t claim to have learned too many things in this life, but I do believe that you will never regret time spent serving others. Oh, and don’t worry if they don’t seem to appreciate what you do. Ultimately, what you do isn’t for them anyway. (Again, see Colossians 3:17)
· I want you to know the importance of being willing to step out of your comfort zones and try new things. This was probably one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as an adult. Don’t wait like I did. You will be amazed by the things you can accomplish if you are willing to try.
· I want you to learn how to be a friend. This is a tough one. I am “full-grown” and I am still learning. Learn to forgive, even when it is hard. Learn that just when someone seems most un-lovable, this is most likely the time that they need someone to show them love. Ask God to allow you to see people the way He sees them.
· I want you to know how to think outside the box. I don’t want you to buck the system just for the sake of being different, but I don’ t want you to follow the crowd either. Think for yourself. And more importantly, pray and seek God’s guidance and then follow Him! (See Proverbs 3:5-6)
· There is one final lesson that I want you to know before I type up that final transcript. I want you to know HOW to learn. In the immortal words of Ernest T. Bass, you will learn how to “read a little, write a little, and tote up yer ciphers” during the years we school together, but unless you walk away knowing how to learn things on your own, I will have failed you. And what is probably more important, I want you to WANT to learn. I hope that you will never forget the saying that hangs on our school room wall –
If you are not willing to learn,
no one can help you.
If you are determined to learn,
no one can stop you.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but maybe it is a good beginning. I am thankful that I still have a few more years to be involved in my children's education, but I know that the time will fly and I will be typing that final transcript before I know it ...
but I'm not going to dwell on that thought right now.