It happened last night. One of those take-me-by-surprise moments where one of my children accidentally displays that this whole homeschooling gig is actually working…
We were at a youth event for my older kids. The ice breaker was a blacklight dance party, basically, they turned the lights really low and threw around skinny glow sticks. It was fun and it did help the teens relax in a new environment. I had my wiggly preschooler with me in the back, while this happened. He gathered a bunch of the glow sticks, spread himself out on the floor at my feet and began making letters out of the skinny sticks in the darkroom. I whispered letters that would be easy to make with these straight lines just to see how many he could do. You guys, I was amazed.
You see, we have been systematically working our way through the alphabet, letter by letter and week by week. He is not a fan of schoolwork that requires him to be still and steady. He is a hard one to assess in a formal way. I was certain we would need to start back at the very beginning (yes, you are probably singing along with Maria Von Tramp now, like I am…sorry about that) to gain some real knowledge of these letters. I had been wondering how we would fit all 26 letters in AGAIN before we launch into kindergarten this fall. But, it is clicking suddenly.
Wise educators have encouraged us, teachers, to just keep plodding on, reminding us that our kids are learning more than they might be able to express at the exact moment, easing our worries that this homeschooling gig does, in fact, work! Confession: sometimes I have a hard time trusting and believing that. Am I the only one? I have a hard time holding the encouraging words from trusted educators in one hand while wanting to see “proof” on the other hand.
On those days when my middle schooler can’t remember how to subtract decimal numbers despite being able to successfully complete a handful of super hard long division the day before, I need to trust that she is learning. I also need to remember that there are days when I can’t spell “separate” because I am too distracted by other things. These kids of ours are not robots that are programmed to regurgitate what we put in at a moment’s notice. They are humans, like us, that have hard days, weeks or even seasons and it is ok to trust that they are still progressing even though it might not feel like it.
So, homeschooling friend, I hope you are encouraged just as I was last night with our glow sticks. I hope you are able to see glimpses of the greatness that is your child(ren) in unexpected ways this spring. Capitalize on those moments when your kids want to see how much they know. Invest in 4 bazillion glow sticks and let them write their letters in the darkened living room floor before bedtime. You just might find the encouragement you were looking for and didn’t even know it!
Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.