Friday, May 15, 2020

The Trials and Joys of Building a Homeschooling Network

My three-year-old's voice rang out from the stacks of library books we had recently acquired, thanks to the availability of curbside pickup: 

"Do you know what a is for?" he asked-posing the question to no one in particular-as he enunciated the short vowel sound clearly. "It's for apple and spat." 

I grinned, a feeling of sense of delight. Well, despite my failure to do any kind of structured letter work lately, he seems to be learning just fine, I thought. 

Deep in my heart, I believe that most kids have a natural love for learning that we need to nourish and encourage. My firstborn is no exception; he loves learning, and frequently asks me to present the stack of letter flashcards to him. However, in the past several weeks-as I've fought to cope with this worldwide pandemic-I've responded to his request with "maybe later," or "we'll have to see"--and we never seem to get around to the flashcards. I keep reminding myself that there will be plenty of time for our more formal work in the weeks and months ahead, so instead of getting worked up about not being in a good "school routine" where he regularly has "preschool time" like some of his peers, I'm filling the days with books and nature walks, prayer and playtime. And, as this recent incident showed me, he is learning a tremendous amount right now. 

At this time last year, I was in a bit of a panic. I was hearing about some amazing homeschooling opportunities that friends were involved in, and I felt exasperated when I was informed that my kids were "too young" for some of these opportunities. I was struggling to find our place and path in this whole crazy journey of homeschooling. During this time, I had the unexpected and wonderful blessing of being able to speak with the fabulous Lisa Mladinich on her new homeschooling podcast. Inspired by my conversation with her, I jumped into the coming school year feeling excited and empowered. 

As I look over the past several months, I am amazed at how God has worked. Yes, we've had some fantastic experiences with other families, but even before any of that took place, God helped me through a mindset shift. My change in perspective as I look to a specific guiding principle in our homeschooling journey has been monumental. I had the great gift of getting to share my "aha!" moment, and much of my journey, on a recent podcast episode with Lisa. Here's part II of "Building a Network When Your Children are Small"

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