I love the writings of Paul. I find them inspiring, relevant, and challenging. My reading this morning included the scripture, “Shine as lights in the world.” It’s included in Paul’s letters to the Philippians, and is surrounded with many comments on joy and rejoicing. (It’s worth noting that his highly positive and uplifting letter was written from jail.) It’s made me ponder what I’m sending out into the world. Am I a light? It was also a lovely reminder to take time for joy and rejoicing. So that is what I’m doing here.

I made a small choice three years ago to homeschool. I’d already “homeschooled” two years of preschool. But kindergarten was my first year of real schooling. At the time it was a soft choice. I wanted him to have more time with his siblings. I wanted to keep our schedule flexible so we could take advantage of opportunities to travel and experience the world. I wanted him to be challenged academically, and I wanted to continue to be with him. Now three years later, that choice feels more radical. What I thought would just be a year of kindergarten at home, has now turned in to three years of school at home. My love for homeschooling as only grown, and my passion for the lifestyle increased. We have a beautiful life. The kids wake up and play an hour of legos in the morning, while I cuddle with Zoe, feed her, read my scriptures, and get ready for the day. Then they come up and do their “First five”: getting dressed, brushing teeth, making beds, reading scriptures and saying prayers. Then we meet down for breakfast together. During breakfast, we memorize a weekly scripture and study that week’s readings from the New Testament. We have time to talk about the lessons, mark scriptures, and have object lessons. We sing a song together. Then I read a few poems. Afterward, while I read “The Story of the World” our history text, and our family book club book, the kids color, hang upside down on their chairs, or draw. That’s just our first hour- and it’s lovely.

A podcast I recently listened to talked about the purpose of education. One of their points resonated with me. Education is meant to pass down culture. It occurred to me that this is one of the main reasons I homeschool. I love creating a culture in our home- and I LOVE watching my children embrace that culture and then add to it. I love our culture of talking about God openly. I love our culture of making music spontaneously. I love our culture of family togetherness and respect. I love our culture of curiosity. There are aspects of our society’s culture that my kids miss out on- I try my best to give them opportunities to experience those cultural opportunities as well. I cried inside a bit when my biggest boy went over to play with the neighbor boys, and I realized he couldn’t participate because he didn’t know how to play basketball. He probably would if he went to school. I wish my kids had more opportunities to experience kids of differing backgrounds and experiences. We’re slowly building that community, but it’s rather sparse right now. I’m hoping lion scouts, soccer, ninja, our neighborhood, and church will provide them with enough encounters to have empathy and understanding of people other than themselves. And where we haven’t experienced we try to read, hoping that reading of others’ lives will bring empathy. But they won’t have as much of that as they would at school.

More and more I realize that this choice is one grand adventure. I don’t really know how it’s going to pan out. Somedays that thought is overwhelming, but mostly it’s the excitement that pushes away the mundane. About four years ago I took my boys to explore Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle. I was curious to see the large fishing vessels and to teach my boys something of the hardworking profession that first established Seattle as a settlement. While we walked along the docks thrilling at the diversity of boats I notice a mother with her two children. They were probably 8 and 10. The three of them were all sketching boats together. The image stirred my soul, and I felt strongly- I want to be that kind of mother. The kind of mother that lives life alongside her children. The kind of mother that paints with them, cooks with them, plays with them, reads with them. Homeschooling affords me that. I’m re-learning French with Scotland, I’m learning to watercolor with Anders and I just adore it. I’m not on the sidelines, I’m in the game.

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