by Jamerrill Stewart
Whew!―Boy, this homeschooling stuff is easy, were my thoughts as I ordered my school-in-a-box, workbook-based curriculum for our first year of homeschooling. You can imagine my surprise when my intensely artistic and imaginative five-year-old son was not impressed with the new supplies. I distinctly remember being very shocked that he didn’t like to sit for hours holding a pencil and filling in all the little blanks the proper way. This is school, right? We battled through each workbook session, and we were both in tears at its conclusion. In my mind, it was still better than the alternative, but it was nowhere close to God’s best for us.
What We Did Enjoy
Do you know when we had fun and enjoyed our time together? It was after our tears dried, and we put the workbooks away―when we did our regular stuff that we’d been doing for years. We painted, went on nature walks, baked cakes, attacked the playground, explored the zoo, hit the lake, or just played in the dirt with Buzz Lightyear.
“We found ourselves lost in a world of creative learning and play”.
For hours we traveled through timeless books, and at the end of every chapter, my son begged for “just one more chapter…pllllease!” If only homeschooling could be so fun.
Asking God for Help with Homeschool Problems
After yet another crying session following our daily torture of doing school amidst homeschool problems, I finally prayed (hey, I’m being honest with you―sometimes it just takes me a while), “God, can you help me with this homeschooling thing?” Do you know what happened? He did. The Lord showed me that my focus was wrong. I was trying to replicate the only educational system I knew (and a failing one at that). Homeschooling was a precious gift. It offered us time, family, and the freedom to develop a customized educational path. The mechanics of filling-in-the-blanks could come later. At that moment my child needed to know learning was God’s gift―and that it could be fun too.
Part of God’s Plan
To help spark my son’s love of learning again and to make “school time” actually fun, the Lord led me to latch onto any subject my son was fascinated with and immerse him in it. The hot topic in my son’s world at the time was bats. You’d better believe we exhausted the subject of bats and had a wonderful learning adventure in the process. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was doing was a “unit study.”
Through studying bats, we dove into topics such as South America, mammals, flight mechanics, nocturnal animals, anatomy and physiology of bats, rain forest, plant life, nectar, pollination, etc. We made a bat mask, went bat watching, built a bat house, and wrote bat stories. We even went to a bat cave in a local cavern.
Heaven help the one family member who tried to instruct five-year-old Jadin that all bats are blind. He found himself bombarded with bat facts. Jadin taught him that most bats have excellent eyesight and blew him away with his knowledge of their echolocation system.
In the End
Despite my interference God redeemed our homeschool problems and gave Jadin his spark back. Now he’s a leader who jumps in everyday to get his schoolwork and other tasks completed because, in his own words, “I like to use my time wisely.” God is doing great things through this young man, and his momma has learned that it’s okay to have lots of fun along the way.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)
Even though the first year of our homeschooling adventure was a rocky road, the difficulties of it all worked for our good. The Lord used those trials to refine my homeschooling vision, purge me of my worldly expectations, and teach me volumes about trusting Him. He uniquely created all of our children and has an awesome plan for them. I had to learn to allow Him to not only be the Lord of my salvation, but the Lord of our homeschool as well.
I encourage you that if you struggle in your homeschool, or with your homeschooling vision and purpose, remember to ask for Gods help.
“Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.” (Isaiah 59:1 NLT)
Jamerrill Stewart loves Jesus fiercely. She and her husband, Travis, have been married for twenty-one years, and have eight children. Jamerrill writes about homeschooling-on-the-cheap, and large-family living at www.largefamilytable.com. This article first appeared in the Virginia Home Educator, Winter 2011