I have been deeply submerged in public education for over 25 years. I was an elementary school teacher for second and fifth graders in the inner-city of Phoenix, Arizona. This year, I have celebrated our son, Michael heading off to college, cheered on our daughter, Hannah in a brand new high school, and watched our daughter, Zoie fall in love with school as a brand new Kindergartener!
I support education in every shape and form, I love being a part of a community of teachers and educators and families coming together to teach our children throughout their years of education! And, I have always kept an open heart to change. I’m a huge fan of the un-traditional in many areas of my own life, too. I have communicated to my children, if they wanted to achieve their educational goals in a different way, we would be willing to look at the options.
There are so many options out there … but for the first time, I have been faced with the real-life challenge of doing exactly what I said I would do, be open to change. Last year, our teenager completed her sophomore year with an unconventional homeschooling program in three, third-world countries. I was a newbie homeschooling mom, but hunted out moms all over the country who gave me incredible advice and support to tackle the job like a pro!
We didn’t choose one particular program, but built on several to create the perfect adventure. I was a bundle of nerves in the beginning, due to not wanting to “fail” my daughter, especially knowing she would return to public school the following year.
I had the joy of watching my daughter grow in so many areas of her life on the mission field, but especially spiritually and creatively. She was never without a new book, even reading at night with a flashlight under her mosquito net. Always researching interesting topics to study or watch (when we had wifi) and dedicated with completing her subjects in out-of-the-box circumstances with outstanding results, but the greatest gift we witnessed … she was happy and healthy and motivated.
Our family returned to the states and she started public school, just as we promised, but this time something had changed. I watched her continue to strive for top grades academically, diligent in never being late or missing an assignment, making new friends, bonding with her new teachers, and excelling in her new subjects.
However, mid-semester she communicated to us that she was really interested in finishing her education with homeschooling. She had fallen madly in love with the independence, freedom, and creativity from learning outside of a school building. She completed a full semester in her new school and with much prayer and gaining wisdom from family and friends, made the BIG decision to homeschool!
It’s really amazing to watch my daughter make such a huge decision with grace, courage, and perseverance! She ended well … and can’t wait to start her new education adventure. Her “word” she picked this year was trailblazer! I want Hannah to blaze forward and reach for her big dreams. I want to be her loudest cheerleader.
There will be challenges along the way, that comes with life, but she knows her family and friends support her unconditionally.
The day Hannah made the big decision to homeschool, my best friend sent me a video link to watch called “Hackschooling Makes Me Happy.” She said, “WOW, this video makes me even want to homeschool!” We watched it together with Hannah and I knew in my heart that we had made the best decision for our daughter. Today is her first day of hackschooling! With all my heart, I want her to succeed big in her goals and dreams.
We all want our children to be happy, healthy, and motivated, but are we really willing to make the sacrifices to make that happen? Honestly, I was afraid to even consider homeschooling two years ago, but letting go and allowing God’s perfect plans to unfold have been worth everything. Once again, I have an opportunity to … do it afraid.
Here are 3 simple tools I have used to help my children grow happy, healthy, and motivated.
Listen to your child’s heart. One of the greatest things we can do as parents is listen. Sometimes, I will just snuggle with my daughters at the end of a long day and just listen. It’s amazing to me the things they will open up just before bedtime. I promise you, even teens will share what’s on their hearts … just be there in the moment and listen. I don’t ask a lot of questions .. this will sometimes kill the sharing. I’ve noticed over the years, when I’m quiet, they will talk. It’s a really easy concept, but not always the easiest thing to do.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19) This verse has saved me a million times when I face a parenting trial. I don’t have a temper (usually) but man, I can talk something to death! I continue to live by this verse as a mom of children ages 20, 17. and 6. I’ve had this one tattooed in ink on my heart. When I do mess up (basically a daily thing I do) I make sure to go to the child I have offended and ask them to forgive me. This is like taking a big eraser and eliminating the conflict. I don’t want the sun to go down without me taking the time to clean up my mess. There is something powerful about seeking forgiveness as a parent.
Check and double-check your child’s spirit. What happens when a child has a broken spirit? They can shut down emotionally, spiritually, physically, and can even seem depressed …. making it impossible for them to be happy, healthy or motivated. There can be many reasons why a child’s spirit closes, but the most important thing to do is to find out why. This can be a challenge, but with a few important steps … you can start the process to help open back up the closed spirit. Roger and I always check first to make sure we are not the reason for the problem. Here are a few things we do with our own kids:
- Be gentle & tender
- Seek understanding
- Validate their feelings
- Physical touch (in a healthy way)
- Make a healthy plan together for a win/win solution
So, moms we all desire our kids to be happy, healthy, and motivated. The journey will be different for all of us, but the end results are the same. We love our children and want to help prepare them for their life adventure.