Monday, September 19, 2011

school and stuff

I have been going through some "stuff".  Lots of it personal but all of it connecting in some way.  Like a plate of spaghetti.  I remember when Brianna had her wisdom teeth out, I went to the oral surgeon with her when she had dry socket.  I was standing in the office with my teenage daughter who had just had her wisdom teeth out and holding a newborn baby in my arms.  It seemed funny to me-both my children but having completely different needs.  

I am teaching one child to write in cursive while another is learning to write research papers.  One child needs me to feed him every, well hour and a half these last few days while others make their own meals.  Some need to be read to and snuggled while others need to be taken out for a latte. One is memorizing helping verbs while another is memorizing Shakespeare.  

 Boys and girls are so different too.  My boys love it when I am up on the latest football stats while the girls want me to talk about a new recipe or know the latest clothing trends. 
What about love languages?  I know it's not a biblical principle necessarily, but there's a lot to be said about love languages.  Physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time.  I'm pretty sure we have people in our family representing all of those.  Brianna is the physical touch girl while Alissa is quality time.  Caleb and Cameron seem to be acts of service, Andrew and Matt words of affirmation and!   If you know Micah at all you will know that at the moment his love language is physical touch!!   I feel very strongly that God wants me to actively love my family and to do that it is important for me to know how they feel loved.

I have been having an inner conflict lately regarding school.  I love learning.  I am only a highschool graduate, but I take any and every chance I get to learn something new.  I like challenges and often try to conquer the difficult concepts in Advanced Math or Biology.  I don't have even one day of college education under my belt.  (unless you count the day I sat in on Matt's classes when I flew down to visit him in college before we were married!)  But I don't feel intimidated by the idea of studying and learning. 

So here's the thing.  I know there is a lot to know.  A lot.  I am a teacher.  What do I teach my kids?  How much do I require them to know?  What subjects do I really push and how much?  How much is enough? 
Brianna and Cameron are doing something this year that is very new to me.  It's called Classical Conversations.  They have 6 one-hour classes one day a week and are learning based on the classical approach to education.  It is all very exciting and amazing to me since I never homeschooled this way before.  Their work is extremely challenging and requires a lot of thinking and logic.  Cameron participated in his first debate this past week.  He dressed up in shirt and tie and came to class prepared to either support or oppose the statement "The National Endowment for the Arts should be abolished."  He had put a lot of time into researching the topic.  Brianna had to give a speech complete with visual aids with her opinion on if the US would be better run under the Constitution or the Articles of Confederation.  They are now taking Latin as their foreign language and are taking Logic and Philosophy along with Honors Chemistry and Biology.  Brianna is preparing to take a test that will get her 6 college history credits.  Her history book is insane! 

Big deal.

I mean, does it matter that they are learning all this stuff?  Therein lies my conflict!  I want to do a job well done in the education of my kids.  I want them to know all they need to know to be successful.  I have been so tempted to feel like ALL the kids need to be following this method of schooling.  They all need to memorize every country on a world map, be able to identify every major bone in the body, know by heart every preposition-in alphabetical order of course!, read every classic, memorize a time-line... and the list goes on.  It's all good.  Much of it is important.  We need to be responsible in the world we live in to know the things that wiill help us to have a good testimony-we don't want to be ignorant! 



Are you going to report me to my county school superintendent?

Academics is important but it is not what is MOST important.

When I feel like I am not doing enough with the kids, I remember.  I remember that Matt and I are focusing first on their hearts.  Not their brains.  They will have plenty of time to get smarter and more knowledgeable.  Right now is the time though that major foundations are being lain.  I want to help them have a firm foundation in their faith.  I want to help them learn self-control, first time obedience, selflesness, serving others, respecting others and respect for authority, how to have joy when things aren't going so well, contentment, patience, leadership, how to pray and how to establish a daily Quiet Time....  I'm going to pick Scripture memory hands down over any other memorization and Bible reading over any other book!  That will be my priority.

I still want them to learn geography, and memorizng prepostions might be a good idea.  However, I will try to remember that I am not a failure if I choose to work on character development or walk with God more than I work on or push the academics.  Sometimes working on that might even really mean demonstrating it.  After all, isn't it true that things are more often "caught than taught"? 

One more thing.  I want our home to be a happy home.  I want it to be full of love and lots and lots and lots of  laughter.  I was in Brianna's room just a little bit ago.  Cameron was on her floor working on his math.  We laughed so hard we cried!  Then Andrew came in and asked if he could tell us a joke.  It was so corny that we laughed even harder.  I want my kids to remember those times.  Life is hard.  It will only get harder for them.  When they face tough times, it is not their knowledge of Latin or Shakespeare that is going to get them through.  It will be their outlook on life and their concept of God and how personal He is to them.  HE will be the one to get them through the hard times... and with laughter to boot!  (believe me, I know)

Life.  My life.  It is so complex and has more parts to it than I ever imagined.  From diaper rash to wisdom teeth, phonics to Latin, teething to braces, crying because of a boo boo to crying because of a deep hurt.  God has given Matt and I so many blessings and each one so special in their own way.  I pray that when I feel like a failure, God reminds me of what is really important and gives Matt and I the strength and grace to focus on those things.  The true essentials.   


ajnrileysmommy said...

so good.
this is why i love you :)

pastorron said...

Hi Sweetie, Your sweet spirit can be seen clearly. Thanks for such a great message and for sharing it. You blessed me today! I love you.--Dad

Reagan said...

Girl, if you only realized that you are everything you just mentioned! How could anyone look at your family and see failure.... You are all a beautiful sight to behold. I am so thankful that God brought you down south!

melanie said...

i loved this.
you are amazing.
love you so much!!

Mary Cunningham said...

Erika - thanks for sharing this inner conflict! This is EXACTLY what I felt while teaching 5th grade last year. Just getting all caught up in the academics is a dead end...but the spiritual aspect and preparation is eternal!
One more thing: I love how you know your children and husband so well: you obviously have a very very important role in being mom to so many! I aspire to be like the Jesus I see in you, my friend:)