Who are you, really?

It seems that most homeschooling families I know, or read about, talk constantly about their children's academic achievements.  How homeschooled kids score way above their peers on every test.  How they are reading novels by age 7 and solving complicated equations by age 9 and graduating from college by 17.

Yeah, that's cool and all, but that's not our family.

And I wish that I could say that we homeschool so we can provide a superior education to our children, but that's not it either.  The truth of the matter is that we're just average people trying our hardest to follow what we believe is God's call for us to homeschool our children.  They're not prodigies.  We're not amazing scholars.  We're just trying to figure this thing out together.

My husband has no background in education, nor much love for all things school related.  He prefers to leave that to me, thanks.  He works hard at a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage thanks to a lay-off several years ago.

I do have a degree in English education and actually taught middle and high school English for 4 years before becoming a parent.  That degree and my experience have helped me exactly NOT AT ALL since we began homeschooling 6 years ago.  Up until this past summer, I worked full-time, then part-time in an effort to help with the bills.  Last spring, though, we came to see that the little bit of additional income was not worth the lost time with the kids.

Our oldest child, 12 year old boy, loves God, video games, working with preschoolers at church, history and Boy Scouts (in that order).  He tolerates math and science, and detests reading and writing.  We discovered last year that he has dysgraphia, a writing learning disability, as well as a mild reading disability putting him at about a 4th grade reading level and a 3rd grade writing level.  But he has such a servant's heart.  I would not be surprised to see the Lord call him into ministry.

The middle kid, almost 10 year old girl, loves to read but has poor comprehension.  She doesn't mind writing, but her spelling is rough.  Math is okay, until we try counting money.  And anything abstract tends to throw her off.  But she has an amazing memory and the sweetest spirit, when she's not going through a pre-teen temper tantrum.  The reading enjoyment just kicked in this last year, and I was relieved.  It turned out that she was struggling with reading because she was extremely far-sighted. Once we got her glasses, her reading took off.

Finally, rounding out our little tribe is spoiled rotten, bull-headed, strong-willed 7 year old girl.  She has refused to learn to read until this year because "I just don't want to."  And no amount of threatening or cajoling or begging or pleading will convince her to do something she "just doesn't want to."  Since she's just learning to read, she's still not writing on her own, though she doesn't mind having someone tell her what to write, if she's in the mood.  Math is easy for her, and she seems to grasp the more abstract concepts more quickly than her siblings.  Actually, I suspect most things would be easy for her if she had a little bit of work ethic or want to.  She does love to be read to, however, and can rattle off nearly any factoid regarding any animal.

My point is that we are just us.  We're just normal, everyday people with normal struggles and normal lives trying to do this homeschool thing because we think it's the best thing for our kids.  While I love my friends with high-achieving brainiac kids, sometimes they make me feel a bit inferior.  And sometimes their kids make my kids feel a bit inferior.  It's not anyone's fault.  Everyone wants and expects the best for and from their kids.  But our best just probably isn't going to look much like their best.  Unfortunately as my son moves toward high school, he's starting to feel the difference.  I pray that he's able to grow in his confidence in himself and in the Lord and the Lord's plan for him in spite of that.  And I pray that God would bring friends into his circle who would encourage and lift him up rather than make him feel discouraged and inferior, even if it is unintentional.  I pray the same for my girls, and for myself.  And I pray the same for you as well.

~ Tina