Monday, 14 May 2012

The Work We Do











A few years back I had a homeschool blog, devoted to what we 'did' all day. It eventually fizzled out due, in part, to the fact that I felt like I was justifying our homeschool journey a lot of the time by trying to make what we do all day seem educational and inspirational.

It isn't. A lot of the time is spent in mundane things. I know that everything can be an opportunity for learning - everything. And yet, there are some days that all I want to do is hook the kids up to an IV drip of TV and go back to bed. But of course I don't. Because, for one, we don't have a TV and secondly, I have a conscience... but not everyday is spent frolicking through the mountain-tops singing 'Doe a Deer' and 'The Hills Are Alive'. Some days it's all we can do to get through to bedtime without getting a divorce and stabbing each other.

I lost interest in trying to defend our choice to have our children educated by ourselves. I got tired of trying to prove my children's capacity to learn. Most often the work we do is not inspirational; it is crappy worksheets. And sometimes the worksheets are the best part of the day.

Sometimes I get lost in the insanity of it all; the need to compare my children to 'schooled' children; the worry if we are doing a good enough job; the fretting that my children would have a much better quality of life if they were in school with all the mod cons that schools offer....or even just away from ME giving them such crappy things to imbibe and mirror... some days Valerian tea doesn't cut it and my worry extends into anxiety....

But then I stop and look. I notice the positives in this insanity. Or I call a friend and they talk me down off the ledge. And I don't sweat the small stuff; I see the big picture again.

This work we do is bigger than a score sheet of test results; it is bigger than a person's eventual tax return. It is person forming, family forming. This intense life is where we forge people, relationships, to form links, one at a time, to make memories, to make a HOME.

They say it is easier to raise strong boys than to fix broken men and it is an overlooked and much maligned task, this raising of a generation, this building a home and forming men. But if society is made up of children grown into power-wielding adults then there can be no greater task than this.

Perhaps my children will never have a bunsen burner, but they will have all the love, all the attention, all the time spent making their childhood as wholesome and as healthy as nurturing and as merciful as we can muster. We will, by the will of God, try to make their memories happy ones, their childhood a sweet refuge, a role model for their own parenting, because they know, despite our short-comings, that we each would take a bullet several times over for these muppets. And I suppose, when it all comes down to it, knowing you are that loved, that you are that worthwhile bothering over, knowing someone has your back at all times, at all costs, that that is heavier on the scales than anything else on offer.

And sometimes I need to tell myself this more often.




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  1. Life is all about choices. You have made a difficult one in home schooling but when I met your boys they were polite, inquisitive and a pleasure to talk to. You must feel proud of all your hard work. When I use to teach so many children didn't have a stable home and I felt that they had not experienced any love either. The school day was the only stable thing they had and that was age five! Come and bring the boys to Sheep Day on Saturday, lots going on but pray for no rain x

  2. Great post well-written which is going to resonate among a lot of us :)
    I often notice how I seem to be continually justifying and validating our home-education lifestyle, even with other home-educators and within our own family! This reminds me again to just 'be' for a while and stop analysing it!!

    Btw, I have heard tell that 'they' don't have bunsen burners in schools anymore either - but this could be just a scurrilous rumour ;)

  3. Thankyou Angela. I think I'm over sensitive to what my children do as they are constantly assessed as ambassadors for the whole movement! The pressure can be too much! When my kids act like goons I have no one to blame but myself ;)

    No Bunsen burners?? Well I often thought that having 30 incendiary devices in the hands of virtual lunatics was always a bad idea anyway... The things w got up to was criminal.....

  4. Lovely post as ever. We all need to trust our instincts when parenting our children and raising our families and that is something that you do beautifully.
    P.S. 'They' do still have Bunsen burners ;)

  5. Yep, and often the things we do as family weigh more than specific 'educational' things anyway. Honestly, I wouldnt be a science teacher if I got paid danger money... we used to heat pennies up til they were cherry red and then put them on peoples' stools to see if they'd sit on them *shudders* ... but that was the day the teacher could throw board rubbers at you...

  6. Kids don't get to use Bunsen Burners in schools anymore either ;) Nor do they get to mix their own concotions in the fume cupboard...

    Neither do they have the liberty to eat when they are hungry or play when they feel like it; oh, or mix with who they want to when they want to and not be judged by it.

    You sound like youre doing a grand job - now you need to get over here before these chicks get much bigger - they are budding wing feathers now!

  7. I have never met you, or your boys, but I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they are thriving and getting a good education at home! When my husband and I took our children out of secondary school we said that of course what we really needed was a controlled experiment in which we somehow cloned them and kept one version in school and the other out so we could compare the results of the two methods! Then we said that really the bottom line was we wanted happy children, regardless of whether they gained any qualifications or achieved certain things...
    And now they are both happy, fulfilled adults, doing useful things in the world, relating well to others and to us, and actually they did rather well academically too - but that was a complete bonus.
    Keep up the good work! (Otherwise known as muddling on through)

  8. Thankyou Helen. Muddling through seems about right. I do think I sometimes over think things and have this idea of schooling nirvana happening in schools even though I know absolutely this is not the case. I just have to get over the fear that I am failing my children and just see the positives in this madness!

  9. Lovely post! I use to have the same thoughts running through my head but when I see how my kids are enjoying their childhood, and how Im able to protect their innocense, it''s all worth it. You can't compare your kids to "schooled" kids these days because what the system trains them all to be, think, act alike, not all but some. When your kids are in your home under your protection, and they see and feel nothing but love, and goodness, and definitely a morally sound home with a strong spiritual essence, than God willing your kids will be the product of goodness. Trust me, your effort will not be wasted. I embrace the craziness in my home, and just soak everytingin, because these pcious days dont last long when they are young. Live for the moment, for life is a gift itself!


    1. sorry for the typos (typing fast on my ipad while kids nap) lol

  10. The only thing that panics me is if it all goes wrong I have no one to blame!! ;-P

  11. I dont think it will go wrong! Kids are natural learners. I think even if we sent our kids to school, we'd have a whole lot more to worry about (what if they get into peer prssure, or fail a class, or dont understand what they are learning, or bad friends, what were they exposed too all day, blablabla...)the list goes on. if they are infront of you at this tender age you can guide them 100% towards faith, goodness, and strong morals, once they are out in the world God willing they will be fine. As far as academically, its not like they are all going to be harvard grads out of school, I went to public and high school here in the states, and I saw and knew way too much, not to mention all my teachers sucked, was terrible at math...i didnt learn much in school just how to do drugs, social pressure, amongst other non academic related things. At 32 Im in college with a concentration in education. Point given children can learn better without the distraction, as long as they have a strong foundation in religion, and the basics in education, they will do fine inshAllah!

  12. an inspiring post. we are entering the world of "school" in the fall, but i am still wondering if we should homeschool. decisions, decisions. my worries lie with whether or not i am good enough to be the one to teach them, silly right? thanks for this lovely read, i will mull many of your thoughts in my mind for days to come.

  13. You don't have to be qualified to cook dinner at night, and you don't need to be qualified to teach either! I think all kids need is family, and as intense as it is living and working as a family it's also intensely rewarding too. :)


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