What I Learned on the First Day of Homeschool

Obnoxious, mechanical screaming jolts me from a sweet sleep and starts my heart to hammering - so loud that I can’t hear my own thoughts.  I open my eyes and they protest, slamming themselves back shut.  Defiant.  

I gather my strength, force the bleary little rebels open again just long enough to read the digits.  It’s five am and is it seriously possible for an alarm clock to be this loud? 

I silence the ridiculous, harassing noise and make a mental note to change the tone to something more peaceful.  I think it would serve me well to actually enjoy the first sounds I hear in the morning, rather than to feel like I am about to be hit by a mac truck.  

I sit up, trying to remember what day it is.  I blink and focus my eyes through the gray of the morning on a mound of laundry overflowing from the hamper. Somebody needs run a load or two, I guess.  Honestly, somebody always needs to run a load.  But wait... I quickly halt the negative mental talk, and remember what I've learned of gratitude. 

Thank you, God for these clothes spilling out - evidence of your provisions for our every need.  And thank you for the home in which to wash them.

I look around the dimly lit room, littered with the previous evenings story books and the leftover blue balloons from the friend's birthday party.  Then it hits me and I remember why I'm waking extra early - today is day one! 

After endless hours of research, and weeks of prep, I am finally beginning the thirteen year journey of educating our oldest child.  Still a little drowsy, I drag out of bed and leave the sleeping husband behind, snoring softly.  

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My gratitude journal lies on the side table to my right and I reach for it, listing out the things that I count as gifts this morning.

I fold myself onto the couch and the excitement in me turns my lips up into a smile.  My gratitude journal lies on the side table to my right and I reach for it, listing out the things that I count as gifts this morning.  

  • first day of school
  • no bulging backpacks 
  • no frantically packing lunches
  • no teary goodbyes

I hear little feet shuffling down the hall and I stop my pen to decode the rhythm - it’s Bray.  The new student comes in to the living room and I think his feet must weigh twenty pounds each, the way he drags in on them.  It isn’t even seven yet so I put him on the couch beside me with a fluffy pillow and he dozes off.  I pick up my pen again and go back to listing.

  • little boy sleeping on the couch beside me
  • this feeling of knowing what peace, joy & fulfillment this year will bring
  • Steven’s support in this journey

Now I hear the beat of the curly headed little girl’s feet.  She toddles in, snuggling up to me, and I’m getting drowsy as I soak in all this beauty, all this blessing, all this here-now-happiness that I’ve trained my heart to see.  

The three of us snuggle here and doze for a few more minutes before our day begins.  I wish I could keep this image in my mind’s eye for all eternity, freeze it in time, hold on a little longer.  These two children, each a piece of my heart beating outside of my body, they are so worth the investment of what this mama can give.  

And the husband who supports us all.  The way he loves us with a sacrificial love.  Isn’t he a modern day hero?  Aren't all of our husbands often the unsung heroes?  Without him, I couldn’t do this - this life long calling I’ve had to homeschool my children.  

My musings end abruptly when the toddler bolts awake, needing to potty, and we race off to the bathroom. 

After the dishes are done and the bellies are fed, we finally sit down with big grins for our official first day of school. 

As I lay out math manipulatives and readers, there’s this little whisper inside me that causes me to pause.  I listen for a moment and the realization hits me that I am about to begin the journey without explaining to them what the destination is - or the point of it.  

I remember wondering as a child why I even had to go to school in the first place?

What does this more-than-a-decade-long fact gathering quest do for a person? 

I take a step back, choose borderless, and dive into this unplanned first lesson that isn’t written in any of the curriculum that I have purchased for this monumental day. 

I put books and gadgets back on the shelf and go into the kids’ room.  My eyes scan the top of their book shelf for something specific - the set of nesting dolls that a friend who moved to Russia brought back for Em on her visit home this summer.  Yes, these will illustrate well what it is that I need to teach them today.  

I return to the table and begin again.  

I tell them how the first person on earth was created from dust, formed by the hand of God Himself, shaped and molded like dough, and then life breathed right in - a story they have heard many times before. 

And I tell them how we are more than that though.  

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All people are made up of three magnificently crafted parts - wisely wrapped up into their own unique, hand-sculpted package.

All people are made up of three magnificently crafted parts - wisely wrapped up into their own unique, hand-sculpted package. 

I hold up the smallest doll in the set and pass it around to the two little people sitting at my table.  I tell them how our spirit is the part of us that loves and will live on after our bodies on this earth perish - the part of us that was created to worship and love the Creator.

I tell them how our mind is the part of us that stores information, the part we use to think and plan, the part that helps us build self discipline and confidence. I put the little “spirit doll” inside a bigger doll and close her in.  I pass around the “mind and spirit” dolls to the kids and they comment on her red cheeks and ask, "Where are her feet, Mama?"

I tell them how God housed the mind and spirit right inside of the bodies He made for us - the vessel that carries the mind and spirit around to fulfill purpose that He has uniquely designed each of us for.  I put the “mind and spirit” dolls inside the larger doll and close them in.  

I tell them how we must not focus on just one entity as we learn each day.  Our main objective as we go through the process of education is to nourish all three aspects of who we are so that the body, mind, and spirit will all grow equally.  (And I wonder if they have any real clue as to what in the world I am talking about.)

I pass around the "body" doll and they shake her, listening to the other two dolls rattle inside.  I ask them if they rattle too when shaken and they giggle silly. 

We move on to other subjects and playtime and lunch, but ever so often I remind them of what we learned with the dolls.  We are body, mind and spirit.  

When nap time comes and they've drifted sweetly off to sleep, I kiss them softly, lingering, looking, gathering memories of a day delighted in.  And now, I sit and think of how important this is - this understanding of what we are as humans.  I’ve lived long enough now to know that when I neglect one of the three aspects of who I am, the other two suffer.  

I think that mostly, this impromptu, Spirit prompted teaching today was really meant for me.  To remind me that the academic education of my children nourishes only one part of them.  

It echoes loud within me now that really, I have always been their teacher.  And that although I have always focused on cultivating the entirety of who they are - spirit, mind, body - I must be more cautious still to remember that our “homeschool” for their academic education is only for one part of the trio.  One of three hand painted stacking dolls.  I can't get all caught up in the education of the mind alone.

I realize now that just because I am conducting school for my children, it hasn’t really changed anything.  I have been their teacher from the very first day.  

Mothering IS schooling.  

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Let that alone be an encouragement to all of you mamas who are intimidated by the thought of God calling you to homeschool your children.  You have always schooled them.  They have always watched you, modeled you, learned from you.  And then there’s this too, Mama - before your children were ever able to do ANYTHING, YOU believed that they could. 

Your encouragement and love teaches them far more than any curriculum.

I am thankful for this reminder to keep mothering in a way that offers them food for the body, mind, and spirit.  And to understand that just because we have “school” to tend to, this official name for the training of the mind, it must not take precedence over the other two aspects of who they are.  Who God created them to be.  

And me too.  I can't forget to care for all three aspects of myself as well.

Before your children were ever able to do ANYTHING, YOU believed that they could. 

Your encouragement and love teaches them far more than any curriculum ever could.
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And even though they did not fully understand the magnitude what I meant when I told them that we must balance the education and nourishment of all three aspects of who we are, I know that the years will bring wisdom and understanding along with them.  

In time, God will knead into them the yeast they need for the rising. 

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