graduation

Why Every Homeschooling Mom Needs to Attend a High School Graduation

My kids are 9 and 5.

We are a long way off from high school graduation.

Or are we?

This week I had the realization that my daughter is entering 4th grade- the grade I used to teach in my pre-mom life. I used to think those kids were so “big,” and now many of them are graduating college, getting married, having families of their own, and sending their little ones to school for the first time.

I remember these same kids wearing their private, Christian school uniforms, sitting in class, and learning their spelling words using the say-spell-say method. These kids stood just below my shoulders and many of them (especially the boys) now tower above me.

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Now my daughter is entering 4th grade. If these last 9 nine years have flown by so quickly, how quickly will the next 9 years go? Because when she’s 18, she will graduate.

A few years ago, I attended a our local homeschool graduation ceremony. As I looked around at all of the families attending, I knew these parents had thought graduation was a long way off for them, too.

I was there for one particular student. I had known this young lady through church since she 4 years old and had the privilege of being her fifth grade teacher when I taught at the Christian Academy. When she was entering 9th grade, her mother began homeschooling her.

From the moment the processional started and she walked in, the tears began. In my mind, I could see the little 4 year year old her with two pigtails walking down the aisle…. and then I envisioned a grown Addie and Ian making that same march.

Right now, the graduation of my own children seems to be a long way off. I am still very deep in the trenches of homeschooling. Ian is entering Kindergarten, and Addie is going into 4th grade.

graduation

There are days when I wonder why I have chosen to homeschool my kids and take on myself a responsibility that others actually get paid for.

There are days when it takes my super smart nine year old five minutes to give me the answer for a simple division problem…. not that she doesn’t know it. Her mind takes little trips and she asks me a million unrelated questions in between finding the answer and writing it on her paper….. like “Mom, why do mosquitoes bite? Is it because of Adam and Eve?”

There are days when being wife, mom, teacher, home-keeper, cook, and launderer are overwhelming.

There are many days when I have to remind myself that my goal is not to have super smart children but to raise godly people.

Attending that graduation ceremony gave me the long term perspective I needed.

graduation

I was able to see the tape across the finish line as each parent handed their student a diploma.

I was able to remember all of the answers to my “why’s”.

I was able to picture Brian and myself handing our children their diplomas and sending them into their next life adventure knowing that we had completed our purpose in the first part of their lives.

I was able to celebrate with these families who had once been in the trenches and had now reached the end of their race.

At one point in the ceremony there was a recognition of the families who were not only celebrating their child’s graduation but the end of their homeschool journey because this was their last child to be homeschooled.

I cried… again!

It dawned on me that homeschooling does not last forever.

graduation

This race has a finish line.

My children will not stay little forever.

I will have to let them go at some point.

I am so glad I attended that graduation. Sometimes, you need to see the bigger picture to appreciate the small strokes you are making in canvas of your child’s life on a daily basis. These strokes can add beauty or can ruin the overall portrait.

As my friend Kristi often says, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

I’ll rephrase it: the school days are long….. but the school years are short.

graduation

do-you--have-a-routine

Do You Have a Routine?

When we hear the words “schedule” or “routine” we usually cringe on the inside. To many, those words mean that we do not have freedom in our lives to do what we want, when we want. We live in a time when spontaneity is almost revered and having a schedule/routine is viewed as a freedom stealer.

Yet, we expect teachers to have a schedule for their classrooms so we know that they will have enough time in each day to teach what children need to learn for the school year. We expect doctors to schedule our appointments and keep to the schedule as closely as possible so our time is not wasted in the waiting room.

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As a homeschooling mother myself, I was torn between the freedom that homeschooling gave me in terms of the flow of our day and the personal need for my time to be assigned so my responsibilities could be completed.

Honestly, doing the same exact thing day in and day out can seem somewhat dull, and the longing for a bit of excitement, a change of pace, or the unexpected can weigh on the back of my mind…. until that change comes, and then I long for my monotonous routine again.

And then I went to our annual Classical Conversations Practicum and read this:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead.” G. K. Chesterton

Children want routine. They want to know what is coming next. They enjoy sameness and repetition….. even if it leaves mom feeling nearly dead.

But what is a routine? A routine is an unvarying and constantly repeated formula, as of speech or action; and a convenient or predictable response: a customary or regular course of procedure. [source]

Basically, it is a series of steps that you take throughout your day. It does not have a specified time, but it happens with regularity, the same way each and every day to the point where you no longer have to think about which step comes next.

Think of a gymnast. She has practiced her routines whether for the uneven bars, balance beams, floor exercise or vault so many times that her body knows exactly what is expected of it. The muscle memory has been so refined that she is mentally present to make sure each step is made with precision without having to wonder what she is supposed to do next. She can do these routines at any time of the day- no specific time has been assigned to each move- but she knows exactly which move will come next.

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On a personal level, we do not have a specific time that our kids have to wake up, but when they do wake up, there are four things that need to be done (Addie has five things).

  1. Read the Bible (Addie has a devotional she reads, and Ian has a picture Bible he looks through)
  2. Make the bed (Ian puts his blanket and pillow on his bed)
  3. Get dressed
  4. Brush your teeth
  5. (Addie has to feed her fish)

I have a few routines that guide my day as well.

Morning routine (This is the best way for me to start my day. I usually have successful days as long as I complete the majority of this routine…. but sometimes life happens…. like the time I had one little monkey jumping on the bed and then doctor visits trumped my day.)

  • Devotions
  • Basic morning bathroom routine
  • Throw a load into the washer
  • Pack Brian’s lunch
  • Make breakfast
  • Send Brian off
  • Clean up after breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Devotions with the kids
  • Prep dinner
  • Make sure house is in order

do-you-have-a-routine

Kids’ bedtime routine (except for nights that we are out late, this time is very important to my children)

  • Baths
  • Watch one 30-45 minute show
  • Read a chapter from a classic book to both kids together, talk together (Currently, we are reading through Pooh’s Library by A. A. Milne)
  • Read a few Bible stories to Ian alone, sing with him, pray (Currently, we are reading through 99 Stories from the Bible by Juliet David)
  • Read one or two chapters to Addie from a book we are reading together, talk, pray (Right now we are half way through Selah’s Sweet Dream by Susan Count)

My evening routine (what I have to do each evening to prepare myself for the next day)

  • Check my planner for what is on the schedule for the following day
  • Prepare anything that is needed for the following day and place it by the front door
  • Lay out clothes for the following day (mine and kids)
  • Prep Brian’s lunch
  • Defrost meat for dinner the following day
  • Shower

Notice, there are no times set for any of the routines, no specified lengths of time for anything on the list. Because of my calendar, if we have to leave the house, I know what time we have to be out the door, but the routines can be done at whatever pace is necessary for the day.

1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” When I follow our routines our days flow beautifully, there is less stress, and my children have a quieter spirit because they know what to expect and there are no sudden surprises in their little worlds.

Do I always enjoy following our routines? The honest answer is no. As much as my personality loves order, the other side of me hates monotony. But as the monotony of routine can sometimes push me into a rut, I like to think of the rest of G. K. Chesterton’s quote which reminds me of how much I appreciate the routines the God has put into our natural world:

“For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun, and every evening, “Do it again’ to the moon.”

Do you have a routine that you can’t live without? Let us know what works for you.