Friday, January 15, 2010

A Mom Looks at Education through a Microscope and a Telescope

The school where I've taught for only a year and a half has been around for 30 years, but, because of the economy, the school has to close at the end of this year. Many people are in grief; they've had a long history and thousands of memories with folks at our little institution.

I confess, the news did not shock me, but I cried a bit when we were told. Not a sob fest, but I cried --mostly for the people who had not schooled any other way and were (are) sensing fear with the thoughts, "What next? What are we going to do? This is all we've ever known."

Perhaps the reason I didn't fear is that I had already begun to hear God about schooling differently next year. Emotionally I was missing Joel. Yes, I was glad to see him every day just across the hall from my room. Yes, I always gave him a hug when we saw each other. Yes, we talked about school on the ride home or reviewed his math facts for homework (plus a lot more because he soaks up numbers and numeric concepts). But it wasn't the same as what he and I had at home for kindergarten: leisurely mornings after breakfast, snuggling on the sofa, reading first the Bible and then a book of prose or poetry (Falling Up being his favorite) . I've missed having his company when I decided to bake a dessert in the mid-afternoon. I've missed much conversation. Seven and a half hours a day, times five days a week, times 36 weeks a year. That's a lot of missing his little voice, his blue eyes and soft skin, his wit and laughter. I've missed the spontaneity of being able to take off days when his daddy had a day off, or being able to visit grandparents during the day when they have energy. In short, I've missed him. I have three grown children in my home as living proof of how quickly the time goes! Can I please just sit and enjoy my seven-year-old for a little while longer?

So these past few months I was thinking I don't have to miss him. I can homeschool him again. Granted, he won't have the social life he thrives on, but then again, he won't have the social life that's been spent mainly with equally immature people as himself. I guarantee I won't be playing tackle football with him, but I'm confident he can "tackle" more science, math, and reading when he isn't having to keep a certain pace. I won't have as many other eyes on him in the course of a week to see his growth in godliness (or lack thereof), but I will see him more, and train him with the firstfruits of my energy, not the leftovers. I guess that's my main regret: pouring more of my energies into the education of other peoples' children at the neglect of my own for these past fourteen months or so.

My first three children, who are now between the ages of 18 and 21, were all homeschooled--Ben until his senior year, Sarah all the way, and Stephen through tenth grade. I can honestly say I do not regret those 15 years. (Parts of them, yes-- who doesn't? If you're a sinner, you have regrets.) I think they've all turned out well (because of God, not because of our choice of schooling). They belong to God, they walk with Him, they are ambitious in school and work, they love the church, they have social lives in overdrive, they are respected by peers and adults alike, they get along with each other, they sharpen their dad and me. I don't pine away with thoughts like "I wish I'd spent more time with them."

To the contrary, I have not had enough one-on-one time with Joel. While sending him to school was what we believed right and good for first and second grade, I've been sensing that, regardless of the school's future, Joel and I need more together time during our best hours of each day.

It's been a blessing to see education through both a microscope and a telescope. Both are beneficial; neither is wholly right nor wholly wrong. Just different. As for me, I'm going to miss the telescope of the classroom style of teaching, but I wouldn't regret setting it down. I might easily regret, however, viewing my son and his studies from across the hall--the distance of a telescope.

So, while our decision is not set in stone, I feel God calling me to examine this treasured specimen of DNA under the microscope. When he's 21, he might only be visible with a telescope. And how well I know that the span of years from 7 to 21 feels like just fourteen feet.


Rooh said...

Hi - I stumbled here from Home Sanctuary, and read your most recent blog entry. It has me thinking ... I have three kids (5 year old girl, 3 year old boy, 1 year old boy), and my daughter is in senior kindergarten right now.

Currently the schools in my area have JK and SK two to three days a week (alternating Fridays, sort of), full day. This has worked out well for us, and I'm at home with my children during the day - baking, cleaning, teaching (I hope ... we aren't homeschooling). But in September, the school my daughter and older son will be attending will be switching to full day, M-F kindergarten. And we don't like it - not only will I miss snuggling with R, baking with him, doing crafts with him, but HE'll miss doing all that with me - especially in the times when the youngest is sleeping.

Anyways ... I guess I just wanted to say that your thoughts about switching back to homeschooling struck a cord with me.

May your decision, whichever it may be, work out well for you and your family.

Have a great weekend ...

Anonymous said...

What great opportunities to make huge impressions in your child's lives. I know that have been touched by your love and example. We only have them under our care for so you know already with your older ones who are independent. Take care and hope things will work out.

Anna said...

The school closing is sad, but I hope that it will turn out to be a blessing for you.
We started homeschooling this year (we moved to Africa.) I have really enjoyed it so far.

Christina said...

Zoanna, thank you for writing down your perspective. This has been such a hard homeschool year for us in some ways. Your post encouraged me greatly!

Laurie said...

I'm praying even as I type, that God would lead, direct and give wisdom and peace as you consider schooling Joel and if God so leads, that you'll be lead step by step by His grace. Blessings.