Homeschooling was never part of my plan.
Before we moved to South Africa almost nine years ago, I envisioned all three of our boys would be fully immersed in South African school life for the duration of John’s and my missionary careers.
That didn’t happen. Due to Jake and Caleb being on the autism spectrum, the high cost of special needs education, the lack of understanding of high-functioning autism, and how to meet their unique and diverse needs, John and I could not find a school that would work for our boys.
I confess I was a reluctant home school mom.
I knew I could teach. I had taught in Beaverton, Oregon for many years. In fact, I loved to teach! The question in my mind centered upon whether I could teach my kids and if we would still love and actually like each other by the end of our homeschooling day. I knew what kind of teacher I was – the kind that makes sure her students know their stuff and would hold them accountable for their learning. And I knew my kids – there would be growing pains as we made this adjustment. There was another issue as well. I liked the ministry work I was doing at the time. In fact, my early childhood education work was taking off and thriving. If I began homeschooling, that focus would change. (Ultimately, as many of you know, the Lord worked that out.) I fought an inward battle for about two years before coming to the conclusion that if we were going to remain in South Africa as missionaries and if my children’s educational needs were going to be met – homeschooling was the avenue that I would need to walk…with my God.
And so we did.
This week, we mark the completion of another amazingly productive and gratifying homeschooling year in the Happy Blue School. Jake and Caleb will finish every book and every task that were presented to them this year by week’s end. They worked hard. Fractions just about pushed us all over the edge. However, today, after an extensive amount of practice, these kids can do fractions. Not that, fractions are the most important skill to learn – they most certainly are not! The deal is, though, when my boys are presented with something that is not easy to learn, I want my kids to hang with it, grind it out, and persevere. I want them to know that they can do it and that they will do it. Giving up on something just because it is difficult and taxes the brain; is not an option.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t make changes when we need to…
As most of you know, Micah was not a student in our Happy Blue School this year. He attended a local high school and had what we would describe as an ‘okay’ year. The main reason Micah wanted to attend a local school was to make more friends. As I shared, it was an ‘okay’ experience. He really liked his teachers and enjoyed the subject matter of his classes. He met some kids. However, over time, Micah began to miss the fellowship and fun of our homeschool environment. He missed the love.
Our little home school is based upon these words from Paul to the Colossian Church:
So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. New International Version, Colossians 2:6-7
Micah missed the strong emphasis we place upon loving our God, loving each other, and growing in our relationship with Christ. Our Happy Blue School (named by Jake and Caleb in 2011) is a place where our boys are nurtured in their God-given talents and skills. It’s a safe place where the boys can be who they are and not be anxious about who they are not. It’s a place where we can explore different things together and have fun in the process. And when challenges arise, we take the time to talk and pray those things through. Like I said, Micah missed that. A lot.
So, we began to pray about what we should do about it.
And in time, the Lord led us to Alpha Omega Academy, an online, accredited high school in the United States that offered some possibilities for Micah and perhaps for Jake and Caleb in the future.
We prayed some more.
We talked with a representative from the Alpha Omega Academyl and liked what we heard.
We prayed even more.
In time, when we felt the Lord’s peace and assurance, we informed Micah’s present school that he would not be enrolled for the 2015 school year. We then enrolled him at Alpha Omega Academy. Micah will return to the Happy Blue School in 2015. He’s excited. And John and I are excited for him.
Jake and Caleb are thrilled to have their brother join us again, too.
And my worries and fears about us not loving and liking each other at the end of the school day, never materialized; even after four years into this homeschooling adventure.
Yep, our 2014 South African school year ends this week. We’re ready for the holidays. We’re ready for the break. We’re ready for some summer fun!
Thank you for all of your love, your support and your prayers for our family. We are thriving because we are living strong – rooted, built up, and strengthened in Christ – through Him and through your prayers.
We are, indeed, overflowing with thankfulness, especially because… homeschooling was never part of my plan.