About Me

I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Snapshots of daily life

I think one of the beauties of home educating is that there are no real boundaries between education and the whole of our lives. Within the course of a day, multiple opportunities arise when you least expect them, questions which astonish you by their depth and perception, moments of clarity as a new concept is grasped, the unique opportunity that presents itself to illustrate something which caused many questions yesterday.

The last few weeks have been busy, but there have been some highlights which I would like to share:

1) Mummy got fixed by the doctors. During my last pregnancy (almost 2 years ago now), I was in and out of hospital with vomiting, and the vomiting just continued every day after the birth. I knew what the problem was, and last month I had surgery to my stomach to correct it. This was successful, but for about four weeks I was unable to lift the boys. Not being able to drive was not really a handicap, but my sons are very lively and energetic and I was not sure how their energy and need to jump and climb be very physical would be. I was astonished by their concern for me. They keep asking me when I am going to be sick, and then thanking God that the doctors could fix me. They keep asking if the doctors allow me to eat certain foods (I am on a special diet for a while).They are being very gentle and kind (when they remember) and quick to say sorry when they are not. Even this time of illness has been an educational opportunity in terms of them showing kindness and gentleness. (Every so often, we 'revisit' the fruits of the Spirit and look to see how these have, or have not been manifest in their lives. They have surprised me this month).

2) Spring is on its way. The last few days have been explosions of glorious spring. They boys have taken delight in showing me the buds, the fresh green leaves, the snowdrops and crocuses. They've noticed the warmer air. Yesterday, we were out early to go to a farmers' market and the birdsong was a delight. The boys were able to celebrate this, and started to sing 'Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun moon and stars in their courses above' - from Great is thy faithfulness. Its one of my favourite hymns, but I did not realise they knew it so well.

3) We've had a few longer field trips - I've seen it as part of my rehabilitation, to build up my exercise tolerance. So, we've been to the museums in town. We've had a couple of long park walks. We caught the train up to the coast, and walked along the beach to the next station and travelled home again. We took our 'collectors' bags, and gathered welks eggs, differnet kinds of shell, seaweed and some old rope. The boys suprised me by using the razor shells to draw out large letters on the sand. (I've mentioned elsewhere, but one of my boys can pretend not to know his letters, but in this kind of situation almost forgets to pretend, and does amazingly well).

4) Generally I've seen an improvement in their social interaction, such that they have little conversations with older people who speak to them on buses and trains. I don't mean that I am careless and let them talk with any stranger, but I am meaning friendly individuals who ask them their names, or how old they are etc. This is something I know other home educators comment on - that the children actually become better socialised because they are exposed to real people living real lives. I'm starting to see, and celebrate, evidence of this.

5) Just a general contentment. Some days we are very active, and are outside much of the day and walk miles and have adventures. Other days, we have more stories, reading books and quiet activities. Some days involve lots of socialisation, whereas we sometimes go several days without meeting with friends. But we can't easily plan these things. The last few days have brought spring sunshine after a long season of rain; any indoor activities can wait on days like these! And its that flexibility, and ability to respond to changes in weather, in health, in energy levels, that makes home education so delightful. To be able to say, 'writing practice can wait, we're going to the beach!'

Not every day has been momentous. Not every day has been easy. But generally, day by day, I am encouraged. Your home education journey will have been different to mine over these past weeks. But more than anything I pray that as parents we can all have the wisdom to embrace the opportunities that arise, and to respond to the needs (educational, discipline, health, emotional) of each individual child as we seek to see them growing physically and spiritually.

A Christlike attitude

I try to post on this blog about once a week. But somehow the last few weeks have ran away a little bit. Things have been good, but I also feel a little as though I need to slow down and spend some time in quiet reflection. A friend popped round this morning with a freshly baked apple pie, and mentioned she was going on a retreat soon. I think if you are a fellow home educator, the idea sounds both wonderful but equally unattainable. However, I do believe God gives us sufficient time in our daily lives to take the necessary time to reflect. 

Luke 6:12 'One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.'

Mark 6:46 'After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.'

Matthew 14:23 'After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.'

Nobody was busier than Jesus. Nobody had more demands on His time. People were constantly flocking to Him, to hear His teaching, to receive healing, to find out more. I sometimes think about the time when John the Baptist (the cousin of Jesus) had been imprisoned and then beheaded. 

Matthew 14:13-14: 'When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.'

Think about it. If your cousin had just been beheaded for preaching the truth about God, and you withdrew by yourself to a 'solitary place' but were followed by the crowds, how would you feel? Would you be irritable? Would you say, 'Please, my cousin has just been killed, I need a bit of space'. Would you snap at them, and ask them to come back another day? Would you think unkind thoughts? Would you listen to them, but inwardly be seething with resentment? 'Can I not even have a moment of peace?' 'Can I not have time to grieve?'

I know how I can feel at times. I confess there are days when I feel irritable with the children, simply for their childlikeness - the constant curiosity (such that they follow me everywhere, even to the bathroom at times), the repeated questions, the fiddling and investigating things that they find on the shelves and worktops, the constant need for attention and input. But look at how Jesus responded to the crowd: 'He had compassion on them'. He didn't judge. He didn't think of Himself as being too important or too burdened to help. He reached out to them, and did what they sought 'and healed their sick'.

What can we learn from this as home-educating parents? Or indeed, as any parent who feels stretched at times? To me, nowhere says it better than the letter to the Philippians, so I will quote extensively:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death -even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11

It is my prayer that we have that attitude, and that we reflect that to our children. As we seek to raise them in 'the fear and admonition of the Lord' may our whole lives speak to them of His goodness.