Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Here is an article I came across in my search for Christian Stay at Home Moms. I was pretty sure I have already made my decision about home schooling. As a former public school teacher, I am pro public school. That being said, however, I have many friends and acquaintances that home school their children. In almost every instance, their children are the most well behaved and considerate children I have ever come across. The moms also seem very organized and peaceful with their decision.
So, this article scratched the surface of something that I didn't realize needed scratching. Do I need to reconsider my personal perference? Perhaps I should visit author's websites and do more research of my own. The websites are listed at the bottom, but I will list them here for quick reference: &

What am I doing? by Cheryl R. Carter
What Am I Doing? By Cheryl R. Carter
As we make educational decisions, I think most of us often forget just how vulnerable we are to criticism. Within our human psyche is the need for approval, acceptance and affirmation. This need has long been documented by counselors, psychologists, and clergy. In fact, great literature is ripe with humankind's struggle to be accepted by others. Shakespearean readers will recall Othello closing soliloquy. He goes on and on attempting to validate himself. Sadly, it is clear he longs for the validation of others. His own insecurity gave birth to his ravenous jealousy. Even though he had a prominent position he still felt unsettled; he had to prove something. Ultimately, this unsettling leads to his demise and unfortunately the death of others. So, how does this relate to us as Christian home-schoolers?
Most of us still look for approval, affirmation and acceptance for the different educational decisions we made. I see this so clearly in the home education movement. I call it a movement because everyday our numbers are increasing and "nontraditional" home educators are joining our ranks. I see the need for approval, affirmation and acceptance in the area of competence particularly we unconsciously compete with traditional schools. No one will say that but they will point to test scores and model curriculum and our schedules after typical schools.
It is said you can tell a lot about a person by looking at the way he spends his time and his check book. I think we home educators might do well to slow down our schedule a bit and assess what we believe and to become more solidified in our decisions. Many home educators run their children from activity to activity and because we too wrestle with the school question and how we measure up. Oh, we deny it. We laugh at those who ask us such a question, but in our quiet moments, we struggle. We, too, wonder about our educational decisions. We wonder if we are doing the best for our children. We wonder if we are good enough as teachers, as parents and even as people. How do we teach our children patience when we throw a fit because they do not get the distributive principle the first time we teach it?
You know what I'm talking about. Am I being too personal? I know I'm in your private closet -the solitary place where only you go. Sometimes even God, Himself cannot get in there! We wrestle with our decisions and wonder about our competence and depend on others to validate us. When they do not validate us, then, we set upon a journey to prove them wrong. It's a vicious cycle we have to validate ourselves and this can only happen when we are honest with ourselves. That is the hardest part. New home educators are particularly vulnerable to a rigid school schedule. This rapid flurry of activity brings with it many other problems including physical exhaustion and burn-out. The problem with being in bondage to others criticisms is that we keep working to prove them wrong. However the most insidious thing is in the process to prove others wrong often we may lose our own identity or convictions.
A few years ago, I did something very radical involving my convictions, for five months I did nothing. That's right I did nothing. Nothing. No hockey games. No ice skating lessons. No soccer, no karate, no swimming, no coop, no dancing, no nothing! This decision was not made in haste. It was preceded by a very active school year and an exhausting summer. It was great. We got lots of schoolwork done, took trips alone when we wanted and sometimes we just spent the afternoon doing nothing! The kids developed new hobbies and even started to do a bit of creative writing and drawing. We were happy and at peace. I had nothing to prove to anyone. It wasn't long before the telephone calls started. What surprised me were the telephone calls from other home educators. One day a friend called
"Cheryl, what are you doing?'
"You're serious about this nothing thing, aren't you?' No response. I do not answer questions for which there is an obvious answer.
"Cheryl, the kids need to do things with other kids"
Obviously, she did not include the neighborhood kids, nor her kids who were just over two nights ago, or the kids at the park, or the kids at church, or...well you get the picture.
"Cheryl, doesn't it bother you that your kids are missing out I understand wanting to do nothing but sometimes we have to do things for our kids socially" she pleaded, attempting to evoke a response from me.
No response. I as I like to evoke thought.
"Are your kids really enjoying doing nothing...? Just what are they doing? Be honest"
Okay. She had played the honesty card. Now I could have answered literally that I did not know at that moment what my kids were doing. You moms know what I mean when the house is too quiet either your bedroom is being painted with peanut butter, or your son is trying to retrieve his lizard from your hand held vacuum cleaner. Instead I opted to ask her a question, have you ever asked your children if they would like to do nothing."
"Well they have to do play basketball and the piano if they stop them will lose their skills.... (long pause obviously she was trying to convince herself she was correct) I mean I wouldn't know what to do if I did nothing"
Therein was the real issue. She had revealed her own uneasiness on the issue of being good enough for her kids. Haven't we been there? She had filled their time with so many other things to fill in the gaps she thought they were missing. I do not want to suggest that everyone who runs their kids around from activity to activity is wrestling with the affirmation issues, some are keeping up with the Joneses' (those invisible children who might do better than our children), others are just caught in the web of activity and still others are still trying to find the ebb and flow of their home school schedule. I am just suggesting that we be real with ourselves about why we are doing something all the time.
We have to face our fears head on. So let me be the first to confess. I am finite in my ability to school my children. I must lean on God. It is in my dependency albeit my confession of weakness that I reach out to Him. And you know what? When I call Him, He is there! He takes my hand and provides for me and pours intangibles into my children. He graces me with patience when I cannot understand why 5x + 4y= 17 cannot be graphed until I put it in the y = mx + b form. I do not trust that I will always have the answer to every school question my children ask, but I do trust I will always be able to get them an answer.
In the book of James we are promised wisdom and we only have to ask for it. Moms, we only have to ask. Can it really be that easy? Yes, it almost seems too simple. We must learn to stand strong and realize that with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37) And if he can part the Red Sea, surely he can help me understand how to multiply four different ways. Home schooling is really a faith walk for us at times. The challenge is to embrace our struggles in such a way that God can redeem them. As my Pastor often says God's glory is released when we give ourselves totally to Him. For truly in our weakness God shows He is strong. Ultimately we have to let go for Him to take hold.
That's why I often stop and take the time to assess what I'm doing. I am neither in a race nor competition with any school. I want to be anchored in what I believe because true strength is breed in stillness. God's voice is not found in the flurry of activity but in quietness. May I offer you a challenge? Look at your beliefs and examine whether or not what you say you believe lines up with your daily activities. Can you close the science book and sit at the feet of Jesus without thinking about the missed lesson? Can you sit in stillness with your children and not just follow a regimented schedule? Ultimately, we have to learn to say no to something to say yes to God. Should that surprise you?
God always tells us to be something before we do something. We think we have to do but God tells us to be. Hard concept for us adults to grasp...right? May we help our children to understand who they are is more important than anything they do. May our children be so purposeful and powerful that the enemy trembles when their feet hit the floor each morning. May they pursue the enemy and preserve in their faith. May they take back this country for God! May we all see it in our lifetime! In Jesus' name! Amen.
Cheryl R. Carter is the "crown" of her husband and the joy of her children. She and her husband serve the New York State Christian Homeschool community as NYC and Long Island LEAH Regional Representative.. Visit her website . and She is also the author of Chasing God and the Kids Too, Balancing a Mom's Most Important Pursuits. She illustrates how to best spend our time in her new book keeping God and family a top priority.
About the Author
Cheryl R. Carter is the "crown" of her husband and the joy of her children. She and her husband serve the New York State Christian Homeschool community in NYC and Long Island.Visit her website . and She is also the author of Chasing God and the Kids Too, Balancing a Mom's Most Important Pursuits. She illustrates how to best spend our time in her new book keeping God and family a top priority.

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