A few years ago, one of the more ‘seasoned’ homeschool mothers in our church shared that she subscribes to the Holy Spirit approach to homeschooling. Basically, she follows where the Spirit leads after having taken everything to God in prayer. I thought it sounded wonderful, but will admit to being a bit nervous about relinquishing ‘control.’ After all, I have checklists and guidelines which tell me what courses the boys should have and when.
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the best choices I’ve ever made when it came to educating and raising my boys has been when I took the decision to God in prayer and then followed His lead. It is not always easy to do, but the results can be amazing.
Looking back, I can see that I was following God’s lead to pull the older boys from our church’s school many years ago to homeschool. It was not a knee jerk reaction on my part to challenges my eldest son was experiencing at school. Rather, I sought wise counsel from friends who homeschooled, talked with my husband and then laid it all at the Lord’s feet as I asked Him to guide me along the path I should be walking. Once the decision to homeschool was made, I felt an incredible sense of peace flow over me. All of the little bumps experienced as the boys finished out the year at the school just washed over me.
While the decision left me with peace, I can not say that every day of our new journey as a homeschooling family had me wanting to sing and dance. Yes, there were happy times and less late afternoon stress. But, there were also days of boys not wanting to do schoolwork for me and tears as I felt so inadequate to teach everything to them. Yet, my husband and I knew this was what God wanted for our family.
Until this past year, I was reconciled to the thought that we would continue to homeschool all four boys until they graduated high school and left for college. A homeschooling family is what we were called to be. However, God had other plans for our family.
For over 2 years, my third born son had been begging me (off and on) to send him to school. He didn’t have the classroom experience like his brothers, yet the novelty of what that might be like wasn’t what had him longing for a different walk through life. Instead, he wanted to be apart from his older brothers who could be his worse tormentors and find new friends. I managed to push the request off for 2 years, but when the topic came up again last spring I felt a little nudge from the Holy Spirit that I needed to re-evaluate what we were doing for this particular son. Basically, I needed to prayerfully decide if we would become a hybrid-homeschooling family.
Our local school district has a variety of education options including charter schools and the ability to lottery into a school outside of your districting. One of my hesitations for letting this son attend school was that no one I knew had experience with the local elementary school. Several friends from church had sent children to different charter or alternative program schools and at the same time I felt the nudge I learned these schools had an open house for interested families. So, I took son #3 to the one he wanted to visit and life for our family embarked on a new path.
We put in for the lottery, knowing that it might not yield a spot for him. He got a spot. My husband was still leery of sending him to the school and predicted that our son would be begging to be homeschooled again within a week. Instead, our son is in a 5th/6th grade classroom with a teacher who is so impressive that I’d love to be part of his class, too. Our son has yet to make the honor roll, but he is growing and thriving in this new environment.
He participated on a team for a reading focused competition, Battle of the Books. And, he loves learning through the many projects and hands on experiences his teacher has provided. We might have had great discussions on books during our study of American History last year. But, I didn’t have the energy, space or time to set up a Colonial Days afternoon like the one his school hosted. I even enjoyed myself as a parent helper.
Do I miss the days when all the boys were home with me? Absolutely! However, I recognize now that the son who is in a traditional school setting needed to be there. I had been spending more and more time focused on success for my high school son that I had less and less time spent with son #3. He is finding himself in the structured environment that he needs at this time.
The bottom-line for me is that I need to make sure I am stepping back and letting God take the lead. This means spending ample time in prayer with enough quiet time available that I can better hear His response. Also, I need to remain open to those gentle (or not so gentle) nudges from the Holy Spirit. Hearing a call is one thing, but stepping out of my comfort zone and taking action God desires is completely different. Yet, when I do take that leap of faith the rewards are great.
How do you allow God to take the lead in your homeschooling journey?
Have you found that not listening to the Holy Spirit leads to a more difficult walk through life?
Laura is a mother to four active boys, three of whom are currently learning at home. She often finds that her favorite subject areas (music, science and writing) are the most challenging to teach her boys. When not guiding the boys in learning, she enjoys reading, baking, exercise, and blogging. She’s even been known to go on an Alaskan adventure with the family. You can visit her at Day by Day in Our World.