Aug 6, 2007

Out of the Box

On our first day at home... I had the kids stand up straight, place their hands over their hearts, and pledge allegiance to a small flag I had propped in the corner by the television. Then, we all sang "My Country Tis Of Thee" together. A pretty funny sight...looking back on it...two red-headed boys... free from uniforms for the first time in their young academic lives...their misty-eyed mother...and a daughter newly home from a foreign country...just getting the hang of the language... having no idea what on earth any of this rigmarole meant at all. The following year...another daughter joins us from overseas...and our patriotic morning ritual slowly fades away. Then the baby is on the way...and I am nesting... and the flag comes down cobwebs and all....labeled a "dust collector."

Unfortunately for myself, my husband, and our children, the whole "bringing the classroom into the living room" mentality stayed with me for our first few years at home. Workbooks needed to be consumed...every page...no matter what...no if's and's or but's. If they weren't... I felt guilty and I'm convinced I made the kids suffer too. Text books were purchased...because even if we didn't use them...we needed to have them on the bookshelf...should we ever find a need...and each year...we locked ourselves away from the outside world for a few days...sharpened a stack of number two pencils, took our standardized tests...mailed them in and waited for our results.

But slowly, tenderly and in His timing, the Lord pried me away from the comfortable...from the familiar...from the box I was living in...and introduced me to a new place...the land of eclectic, Spirit-led home-education...a place where grade levels don't matter all that much anymore and where math problems somehow teach lessons on individuality, comedy, and pride. Braverijah will be turning 16 soon and is entering into his junior year (transcript speaking) ...with a few college courses already under his belt and a whole lot of work experience in his chosen field to add to his portfolio. Mcabe is 13 and has taken every co-op high school tract class since last year. Does that make him a sophomore this year? But...both boys will be in the same math class this year...even though there are 2.6 years separating them age wise... and Bria's already taken his 3 Lab Sciences, Physical, Biology, and Chemistry. Galilee is turning 12 and officially moving into Saxon 6/5. But Saxon is supposed to be a year ahead (of who?@#*?!)? Where does that put her since...as far as math goes...she's a year behind some of her other friends? She's moving into a 6th grade Literature class with a group of 4-8th graders...Jemima being one of the younger students...turning 10 in November. The girls will be studying together from Apologia's Astronomy like they did last year for a Botany course and they are 1.11 years apart. And they will take a writing class together as well... and be in the same Dance class and perform in the same Choral group...and study God's Word...growing in grace alongside one another in the same Keeper's group. Galilee is the best speller in the household...by far...scoring higher than Bria and Mcabe and no doubt... could out spell me most days without thinking twice. Our baby, Zion... is 4.2 and she will be joining the K-3 co-op class this year...gleaning what she can from the great Literature titles presented in the Five in a Row curriculum. If she's already writing her letters and doing "math" and knows her colors and shapes and days of the week and sings her alphabet...is she considered Pre-K or K? She'll most likely cry for a minute when I leave the room to be with the older kids next door...but some kindergartners do that too.

Really, the Lord is so good to me. He is faithful and ever present. Just today, He made His presence known at my kitchen table. Galilee and Miss Jill, her math tutor, were going over some problems. I was standing nearby...listening in while sauteing up some broccoli for lunch...because Miss Jill is new... and nobody knows their children and the tricks they will pull with a new bee better than one's mom:)...so I'm keeping an ear out for nonsense...excuses...justifications etc. Miss Jill had asked for certain steps to be followed in the assignment she had given...and for all work to be shown...and over and over I am hearing that the steps were not followed....and half the work is missing. Each time, a new reason for not following the steps or not showing the work is given. All jibber jabber. Because I have been removed from the box I was living in...I have been shown that the math lesson means diddly squat...if the underlying heart issue here is not being addressed. So, we stop everything and slowly and methodically speak about what was asked. What was done or not done in response to what was asked? We work through owning the fact that what was asked was not done and we get to the bottom of the problem. Pride. Plain and simple. Pride. Galilee did not think she had to show her work even though she was asked to because she knew she could do the work in her head and she just thought that was a ridiculous thing to do. It all boiled down to her thinking she knew better. My broccollini needs to be stirred...I'm paying Miss Jill by the hour to teach Math and I am sitting at the kitchen table discussing the sin of pride and how it manifested itself in this very situation. Miss Jill is patient. Galilee is convicted...or at the very least.... embarrassed. Here's the funny part. I go back to the stove. Miss Jill moves on to a division illustration. "Galilee," she asks..."What's your favorite food? If you had one food to choose...what would your favorite food be?" Galilee thinks pretty long and pretty hard. Finally..."beets"...she says. "Beets?"...Miss Jill asks a bit taken aback. "Yes, beets", Galilee confirms with absolute certainty. "Okaaaayy, let's pretend we have 7 beets in a can and three kids need to share those seven beets...how many would each kid get?" "Oh that's easy", Galilee perks up. "2r1." She has no idea why Miss Jill and I find it funny that she chose beets over let's say.... cotton candy or ice-cream. The Lord was right there reminding me that my daughter is unique...that she is a one-of-a-kind creation, that she is special and that if I think it's about math...I am missing the point entirely. At the end of the session, Galilee is relieved. She thinks about just saying, "Goodbye...see you Thursday"....I can tell....but starts to fill up with tears instead. She follows Miss Jill out to her car and apologizes for dishonoring her by ignoring the steps she had been asked to follow. Miss Jill forgives her... and tonight, I am a home-educating mother who is soaring on the wings of eagles!


Mom of Five said...

I wondered why Galilee had asked Emma how beets tasted with salt and if they're good!! Such a great story. Praise God for the conviction of the holy Spirit and for you taking the time to train her heart. And you're right, who really cares what level? It's the heart, the concepts!

Ginger said...

love the story! Convicted me Dawn, thank you for the story.

Family Gregg said...

the principal of our "school" found two spelling errors :) i have no idea where that places me in Spelling Power.

The Thompson family said...

you make me laugh Dawn! You also make me relieved..I too have been known to be a "workbook nazi!"

Family Gregg said...

maybe we should start a recovery group?