Our hero and heroine receive a treasure map. With great bravery, they set out to cross raging rivers, climb high mountains, slay fierce dragons, and keep their fellow adventurers committed to their noble task. Forsaking comfort, sleep, and disposable income, they live the adventure to seek the treasure of a lifetime.
Who are these heroes? Why you and your spouse, of course.
While you are battling a fire-breathing dragon after a sleepless night awake with a sick child, you can wonder if the treasure is worth it.
Our own adventure began in the late 1980s when home education was still thought of as quirky. We were unlikely treasure hunters with Mike in seminary, barely two nickels to rub together, living in student housing.
With our eyes on the prize, we plunged in. The creator of Sing, Spell, Read, and Write was a professor at Mike’s graduate school so I went to her workshop and purchased the kit. Copying, coloring, and laminating the letter pages, I made a border in our small dining area so that Katie Beth could see them while she ate her breakfast each morning, waiting for her to show interest in those letters.
Meanwhile, we read beautifully illustrated, well-written picture books by the ton, played at the playground, planted a garden, went strawberry picking, made jam, and explored the nearby woods all with baby Julianna in tow. We loved to sing in the car, talk to cows through the window, and make silly animal sounds while we did their peculiar walks.
“Maybe I should read, Mommy,” Katie-Beth urged as I struggled to keep my eyes awake. I was pregnant again and oh so very sleepy. Could I teach Katie-Beth to read and potty train Julianna with a brand new baby?
We faced other challenges like blending the letter sounds while we were learning to read. It just didn’t come quickly for any of my children. Patience was the answer to that dilemma.
We faced the raging river of teaching something I didn’t understand myself. After praying for an idea, I went to the children’s section of the library and checked out books on the topic. After some quick reading, I understood enough to confidently teach a third grader. That came up over and over, until I learned to relax and learn with my children. After all, learning is a grand adventure!
Mike graduated from seminary. We had several options, but felt like the Lord was leading us to plant a church. Plant a church? There were some problems with that idea. We had no money. We didn’t know where. In faith, we packed up all our stuff in storage in Virginia Beach. We set out on a brand new adventure with no idea where we would end up.
My girls were privileged to enjoy a month with their great-grandmother during this time. She let them fix her hair and help her cook while she told them stories of the olden days. A priceless education.
In two years, we lived in four different places. “Isn’t it hard to homeschool in the midst of all that moving?” people would ask. I had to stop and think. “No, it actually brings stability. The routine continues even though each place is different.”
Soon we were in Central Florida in a brand new house that was completely empty. While we waited on Daddy to go get our stuff from Virginia Beach, we slept on sleeping bags, did our math on a borrowed card table, and ate lunch on a blanket. We had a picnic everyday! We stuffed pillows in empty corners so we could cuddle up and read aloud. Our new neighbors had their grandchildren visiting for the summer, so the children played in their pool, chasing butterflies and catching lizards when they were tired of swimming.
When we read Little House books, we would churn butter, dress up like the Ingalls family, and make up our own adventures. The Anne books led to tea parties and a completely different wardrobe. Learning led to play and play led to curiosity.
There were more babies and soon we had a houseful of children. With many children, come squabbles, so we had to teach our children to love each other and work through conflict graciously.
One of my favorite memories in our homeschooling adventure was family discussions about history, philosophy, Christianity, politics, law, literature—you name it, we talked about it. Some of us were quite opinionated and there were times our opinions clashed. Often questions arose that we had to investigate and research. Our family discussions stirred up a hunger to learn more, to read more.
Over the years, we used assorted curricula from classical to workbook, but our favorite way to learn was through living books and hands-on fun. We learned a valuable lesson in our homeschooling adventure: education isn’t something that happens during “school hours,” it begins from the first sleepy yawn until we drop off to sleep at night. The world is full of wonder and there is so much to learn about, explore, and investigate.
With puberty came large amounts of emotion. Each of my teens faced different challenges that affected the entire family. Mike and I worked hard to maintain a close relationship with each of our children as they transitioned from children to adults.
“Mom, do you want to go bowling with us?” What! My teens wanted to hang out with me. I was thrilled! Our house became the hang-out home, as God blessed our children with good friends who became our friends, too.
The biggest dragons we faced were sickness and death. I remember sitting in hospital waiting rooms with my heart pounding waiting to hear how a surgery went while my children sat beside me reading a book or working on their math. During the hardest times, we had to pare down to mostly reading, math, and listening to audios on our long treks to be there for my parents.
After Mommy died, Daddy moved into an assisted living nearby (rejecting the offer to live in our noisy house). We took turns visiting him each evening, watching reality TV (“It’s not reality, it’s actuality”) or Hallmark movies with him. My children learned valuable life principles without a word ever being spoken. Life is a great teacher.
You have your own raging rivers to cross, challenges to face, and dragons to slay. They don’t feel like a grand adventure while you are in the middle of them, but don’t give up! Challenging times can bring out the very best in us and teach our children far more than any character lesson. My experience is that homeschooling has brought a quiet stability in the tough times because we are together, learning, and loving.
The treasure we seek is those love relationships. We focus on education, but in the end it is homeschool graduate who is tender to the weak, full of compassion, and kind to everyone that makes the journey worth it. It is the love we share with our children that makes the hard work seem so meager a price for such delight.
In a world where relationships are falling apart, homeschooling is one tool that helps to cement them together. So, live the adventure! Remember that learning happens moment by moment as live, laugh, and love. Homeschooling is full of ordinary days that culminate into something extraordinary. When the race is finished and the diploma is passed on, it really isn’t over because the treasure continues for a lifetime.
God bless and keep you on your own homeschool adventure!
Our How-To Homeschool Books
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Curriculum I've Created for My Kids