I've recently found myself somewhat disillusioned with my purpose for homeschooling. There were a few reasons for this: flu for a month, lack of sleep, new kindergartener, entering the school year feeling unorganized, lack of sleep, new teenager in a new school, unplanned house purchases and listings and showings, lack of sleep...I couldn't catch up--couldn't even stay behind at the same rate. Apart form the basics: math, reading, and language arts, academics were uninspired and faltering. The kids seemed to have made much improvement last year, but this year I felt they were only maintaining, not gaining on, the learning curve.
I made lists (one of my favorite mental organization tools) and realized that my main reasons for homeschooling are not necessarily for amazingly superior academics resulting in kids graduating college when they are 17, but for social, emotional, relational, spiritual reasons. And really, regardless of how ill-behaved my children might be at any given moment in time, overall they are so much improved in the last couple years that it is impossible to mistake the cause. I know without a doubt that my relationships with each of my children is better than it would have been if they had never homeschooled. I can see them develop positive social and emotional skills; I have experienced the deepening of their faith.
I had an example of this recently when Melinda came home from a friend's house (one we don't get to see very often anymore) wanting to share with me a revelation she'd had.
"Mom," she said. "I figured out why [my friend] and [her sister] are always fighting." She paused to make sure I was listening and then continued. "Her parents don't ever go to church--not EVER. They don't even WANT to! They say they hate church and they don't believe in God or Jesus at all." She paused again, and then--in a quieter voice--said, "[My friend] and [her sister] think their parents are stupid and retarded."
At this she teared up. As I welcomed her into my arms for a hug and to tell her that we would start praying for them every day, I realized what an amazing blessing it is to have children who know without a doubt that I love them and am on their "team".
You must understand that this daughter of mine is the child in our family most likely to be dramatic and take offense. No stranger to sibling arguments is she. Also understand that this family she speaks of is a normal, functional family. These children have attended private school for most of their schooling and are generally well behaved girls. But my precious 9 year-old could sense a difference in the family dynamics and was troubled by it enough to ponder it in her easily distractible mind. And what she discovered grieved her.
If homeschooling my children, for whatever amount of time it may be, can make such an impact on their spiritual lives, my burden is light. I have many years left in my parenting journey, but right now--today--I am simply thankful for a God who is real enough to make a difference in daily life, who IS a tangible love, who will cover you in a deep seated peace and fill you with a bubbling joy. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my God with some incredible children, and so very glad that He is there to put things back in focus.