Friday, July 28, 2017

When God's Plans Look Different Than Yours

When I was first raising little ones, my husband and I both were introduced to Catholic, homeschooling families. Some we did not aspire to imitate, but most, at first glance, we admired greatly and started to want to follow in their footsteps. When my oldest was 4, I started attending our local support groups' meetings and was further impressed with much of what I observed to be a typical catholic, homeschooling way of life. My husband had also gotten to know several of the dads and we began to consider homeschooling, ourselves. When I want to learn about something, I pour over as many books as I can. And so I did, read many books about homeschooling, catholic and other. I pictured listening to Mozart with them, teaching them to paint like Rembrandt, discussing philosophy and finishing school by lunch so as to develop other hobbies such as crocheting, gardening and badminton. As it turns out though, my eldest, as you may have read in other blogs, struggled with severe ADD symptoms. I would be on the verge of tears trying to just get him to finish a math and writing assignment by dinner time. My second child I gradually came to discover, was dyslexic, and again many hours spent on the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic, very little time for crocheting. My 4th child had SPD, was developmentally delayed, and just a very strong-willed child. My little homeschooling picture became blood, sweat, and tears, just about every day.

Don't get me wrong. There have been little glimmers, beautiful moments along the way. I have cried trying to teach a child a concept and then cried for joy when they finally overcame their hurdles. I have watched in amazement as Princess reveled in creating games, learning experiences, even faith lessons for her little brothers, and seen the awe in their eyes as they listened to her, thinking she hung the moon. I've seen the two little boys with great excitement share their homemade "bibles" with each other. I have had conversations with each child that I am not certain I would have been able to have had they been in school all day, with another life I was not a part of. I have had the joy and pleasure of teaching all of my children to read, some struggling more than others, and been there for their first word, sentence, and book. I have loved seeing their gifts unfold with each passing year, taking shape, improving upon last year's work. My children being homeschooled together have grown very close to each other. Oh, they are normal, they do fight and pick at each other.  However they also love each other and have been privy to each other's struggles and weaknesses, going through each day together. I think it has made them more compassionate and understanding of a variety of behaviors.

All this to say I had to make a difficult decision a few years ago. It was becoming evident to me that my oldest and I were not working well together. There was little peace in our homeschool relationship. And he was not excelling, though he is very smart. When I went through a formation I have mentioned on several blogs before, the principles of discernment I had learned through it were constantly coming into my head. "What's right for one is not necessarily right for another, because we are all unique in our path." "You should have an increase of faith, hope, and charity if you are following God's plan for you." "You should have peace." "There should clearly be good fruits from it." Based on these principles, homeschooling him did not feel right, at all. The possibility of putting him in a local catholic school was made available to me and I began to pray and discern about making this change. God responded with clear signs. So we went ahead. There have been some struggles in his adjustment, but quite honestly I have been amazed at his success, growth and accomplishments since making this decision. He made Honor Roll almost every semester at his school for the 2 years he was there. He has remained in school and has had ups and downs, but I am still confident it is the right fit for him.

I continued to homeschool my little boys and girls. Then we decided for the sake of my oldest to move into a better school district. Making an elementary school and high school with high ratings, available to us for the first time. I was still struggling constantly with my SPD child. Teaching him required much of my time and energy, and I was often mentally and emotionally drained by the end of a day. Meanwhile the children who did not struggle as much were not getting enough attention from me. So I began to discern once again, putting the boys in school. We visited their local school and were amazed at the amount of discussion there was about help for special needs children and the positive environment. I once again received clear signs it was time for them to venture into the world of "brick and mortar" school as well. They finished their first year, and there have been a few ups and downs.  Mostly though, I am completely amazed at God's faithfulness, when you open yourself up to something other than what you think is best for you. One of my son's teachers actually homeschooled her kids until adulthood when she decided to become a public school teacher. She has been amazing. My son with SPD has several teachers that are trained to help students with special needs and has received a lot of extra help while in school. They both come home, usually excited to tell me about their day. I am more than ready to see them, having accomplished what I needed to in the morning while they are gone.

I suppose some of you might be saying "See! I knew homeschooling was not a good thing!" or some of you are thinking "Well, she probably could have done it with more help, more resources." The truth is, I think it was right for my boys for the time we did it. It may even be right for the younger ones later on. If I should feel led I would consider discerning homeschooling again. I always tell people I take it one year at a time. I have come to love, respect, and admire both types of schooling. It really depends on the family dynamics, the individual children's needs, what types of schools are available, and many other variables. What I have learned is when you open yourself up to God's plan for you, even if it doesn't match what you thought, He will be completely faithful.  

I hope that this gives someone hope to step out on faith.. and trust... in whatever circumstance you find yourself.  

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