How a Homeschooling Mom Survives Her Daughter’s Wedding

homeschooling and planning a wedding

 

It’s September. A new school year off to a great start. And our daughter becomes engaged. How wonderful! How exciting! And the wedding date is set. For February. Right smack in the middle of our school year. Five months to plan the wedding of a lifetime. Four younger children still needing their education. How does a homeschooling mom handle this!?

 

  • Make a list. Make several lists. List out all mandatory schooling assignments and activities. When you sit down to do school, you can refer to the list to help you stay on track.  List out all wedding appointments and projects. I made up a notebook with dividers just for wedding planning. All ideas and business cards and receipts and samples and checklists were recorded here, which left my brain some space for tackling schoolwork with the younger children. These lists will be on-going and ever-changing.
  • Set Priorities. Determine what is most important for your children to accomplish. For this season, pick your top most priority subjects and see to those. A math lesson? Reading practice? See to those and leave the extras for a later season.
  • Set up Self-Directed Activities. Keep a drawer or bin stocked with art supplies or math games to be used only when Mom is occupied with big sister and the wedding. Have a basket within reach filled with books on topics that you are studying in school. If you aren’t getting to the school books, they can still be learning. There are plenty of websites offering worksheets and educational games for all subjects, any age. Having new and fun activities available will help distract everyone from all the hub-bub going on with the wedding planning.
  • Organize the days of your week. Choose one day to be ‘Errand Day’ when you will schedule as many errands as possible, making them the most of your time out-and-about. Check your Notebook before you head out! Another day can be ‘Light School Day’ when you get math lessons and writing lesson in and then work together on the wedding to-do list (making rice bags, cutting ribbon, making place cards, looking through bridal magazines, etc). Fill the other days with as much schooling as you are able. Remember that list we made earlier? Refer to it often.
  • Ease up on your school schedule. For a time. Instead of math 5 days a week, maybe 3 or 4. Science 1 day a week, History 1 day a week. A little reading everyday, but grammar every other day. Create an alternative schedule with more flexible time built in. It’s only for a season. You’ll work your way back to normal once the Big Event is over.
  • Plan school activities and subjects around wedding-related topics. Study family history, hold ‘home ec’ and ‘shop’ classes in order to create wedding gifts, learn some geography while compiling the guest list and updating your address book.
  • Take a Teacher Enrichment Day when needed. When you’ve been stretched too thin, retreat for awhile and do whatever it is that recharges you.
  • Enjoy family time together. Your daughter won’t be living under your roof much longer. Pull out the old photo albums and scrapbooks. Relive favorite memories while fixing her favorite meals. Make new memories – do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do together.
  • Regroup. When the younger children have been pushed aside too often because wedding plans have been front-and-center, take time to reconnect. Read out loud together, sit around the table as they work and look them straight in the eye, look through their school work and praise a job well done. Or, if you’ve been pushing, pushing, pushing schoolwork playing catch-up, yell “School’s Out!” and let the younger ones pick an activity (it might even be educational, you never know!)
  • Keep a List for the Future. Yes, another list! At the top write “When This Wedding is Over, We will . . .” and then keep a running list of things you’ve put on hold. Don’t have time or funds for a planned project or field trip? Put it on the list. It will give you something to look forward to and can be helpful later, when adjusting to life without sister.
  • Give yourself permission to mourn. Go ahead, have your mini-meltdown when it hits you that your baby girl is about the leave the nest. Tears will rise to the surface at the most unexpected moments. At times I would quickly wipe the tears from my cheek. No need to hide it, my children understood. Other times I’d leave the room and have a good, old-fashioned cry, taking a few minutes to myself to sob – I was missing her already! Then I’d be good to go again. By stuffing those feelings, or ignoring them, it would just build and I wouldn’t be any good to anyone.
  • Be in the Word. Be with the Lord. HE will give you the strength to juggle all the logistics, emotions, details.
  • Breathe. Eat well. Get your rest. Enjoy. This is a special time, give your children the opportunity to be a part of it all. Your daughter doesn’t get married everyday. The schooling will still be there after she’s walked down the aisle.

 

 

stop and smell the daisies

Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she blogs about life as she knows it, with children in various stages of cutting those apron strings.

Homeschooling with Step Children

Homeschooling with StepChildren

When God called me to home school my son 5 years ago, I thought the job was almost too easy. After all, curriculum choices and learning methods overflow from the pages of books, blogs, magazines and catalogs these days. My mother didn’t have any of that available when she home schooled me in the 80’s.

Then I realized God wasn’t calling me to home school my son. God was calling me to home – educate my son and my step-children!

Growing Pains

All of a sudden I had three grade levels and learning styles to consider. Suddenly I wondered, is it even legal to home school step-children? Did I need to list that somewhere in my paperwork to the school district? God used those first uncertain and panic-stricken weeks to introduce me to my state home school support agency. They assured me that not only was it legal to home school my step-children; there wasn’t any additional reporting required to do so!

Everything seemed to be falling into place! With the blessing of both parents and state, I embarked on the mission of home schooling all three children. It wasn’t long before the struggles began.

Anyone can Home School

The children took to homeschooling eagerly. Their grades went up and our hopes were high. But the early days of rosy success sent an unintended message to our children’s extended family: “If she can home school, anyone can home school.” Before long, I started getting offers from all over to “pitch in,” and, “do a few workbooks,” with the kids in exchange for visitation time! Everyone looked at our home school, shrugged and said, “At this age, how hard could it really be to home school them?”

Life in a Glass Doll House

Under the watch of many eyes, we struggled to find a curriculum and a schedule that worked for all of our children. Though we lived in the same house, our students came from three very different backgrounds and situations. Our students went home to other parents, and those parents had a say in their child’s education. We realized for our home school to succeed, we would have to think like a private school. We had to get serious about structure and format in our school.

In a traditional home school setting, if the year doesn’t go well, you simply change what doesn’t work and try again the next year. Imagine though, if you had an entire gallery of onlookers ready to pronounce your home school a failure. Our home school became less of a peaceful educational journey and more of a desperate run for our lives. Ex-spouses and concerned family members scrutinized our progress. One of them remarked, “You’re providing all of the education and you’re raising the child. If they fail in anything, or have any learning problems, that’s on you!” The stress was intense.

 

The Turning Tide

We adhered strictly to the 180 day school year and mirrored our local school district’s calendar. Before long, the friendly offers from the children’s family turned to frightening threats and accusations. “How can anyone teach children anything useful without at least a Bachelor’s degree in education?” became the chorus. Soon, family members began to demand that visitation be based on their work schedule instead of the children’s school year, arguing, “They aren’t in real school anyway, so what difference does their schedule make? They can visit for months at a time now!” Our insistence on keeping our students on a schedule soon landed us in a lengthy court battle.

We were pounded with conflicting legal jabs. We stood accused of not educating, educating to strenuously, being too entrenched in the local Home School community and being too isolated all at once! Never have we relied so deeply on prayer as when we faced our second, terrifying lawsuit demanding we lose all custody of the children! National organizations that defend the rights of home school educators could offer us little help once child custody was thrown into the mix. We were on our own with our convictions, our kids and our faith.

God Provides

After much bitter struggle, many tears and an untold number of difficult crises, we are blessed to say that God has given us permission to go forward with our home schooling, and He’s blessed us with two more children to add to the classroom when they’re old enough.

While we now have very different reporting requirements than other home schools, we persevere because we believe home schooling is God’s mission for our family. We continue to document our activities and our learning diligently and to work with our local educational resource-providers as professionals whose students deserve no less opportunities or assistance than a student of any other institution. We have named our home school, we created a student handbook, and we proudly emblazon our school motto on every report card we are required to present. In the end, fervent prayer and a biblical worldview were the only defense we had to protect our children.

We continue to learn and grow as we face educational challenges and triumphs. We take great pleasure in bringing glory to God by sharing our story at www.StirredUpFamily.com and encouraging others to home school with God’s blessing, no matter how impossible it seems.

 

stirredupfamilyStephanie Somers is the Stirred Up Mama of three children ages 10, 3 and 5 months, and the step mother of two ages 8 and 6. She is a 2nd generation home school teacher and tutor.  She has a passion for helping blended families manage life and trials. She loves miniature goats, drawing, and coaxing her family outdoors away from things with display screens. You can find the Stirred Up Mama on Pinterest, Twitter or her blog at www.StirredUpFamiy.com. Visit The Stirred Up Family on Facebook to learn more.

Marriage in Crisis: Homeschooling in a War Zone

 

As a Christian we’re suppose to have it together. Right? And especially if we’re homeschoolers. Because we’re extra Christian. Right?

We walk into church with smiley faces, holding hands, give our little cherubs kisses on their head and talk sweet and soft.

Now if anyone had seen us 30 minutes before as we were dashing through the house looking for the hairbrush (because there is only one), a missing left shoe and the aftermath of the bowl of cereal dumped on the floor that ended up being left because we were running late, they sure would have had an entirely different view of our “sweet” family.

And if they would have seen us on Thursday they would see a still grimmer picture. The one where I’m yelling at the kids to get their garbage off the floor. That their dad is a louse because he refuses to go out and get a job, wont help with their school work and some how it’s their fault for my marriage falling apart. Then when he does return home I throw a slew of demands and accusations reminding him that he is a failure as a husband. As a father. As a man in general! That he leaves me to play while I’m stuck at home taking care of EVERYTHING! Then go to MY room after spewing insult for insult, shut the door and cry at how terrible my life had become.

And beg the Lord to release me….

Or if He would just take him….

Or fantasize about him finding someone else so I could just live my life.

Don’t get me wrong. He was bad too. It takes two to build a marriage. Only one to tear it down. And we both were doing a dandy job of it.

Proverbs 14

New International Version (NIV)

14 The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

In times of turmoil our homeschooling suffers. It’s a toxic environment that impedes learning. And it really added a tremendous amount of guilt. When you homeschool with a marriage in crisis, the kids have no way of escape. At least if they are in school they can breathe for just a minute.

I knew I was failing my kids. I was failing to provide them a tender nurturing home. I was failing to build memories that were safe. I couldn’t give to them in the way they needed. And yes they bear the battle scars from it. I also hated that I was failing them with their education. Homeschooling in a supportive home is a challenge. Trying to maneuver through these rough waters is almost impossible. And it results in lingering guilt.

At some point I realize my mental health was waning. That the anxiety of my husband not working but not helping, homeschooling with littles and the pressure of my marriage falling apart was taking a toll. So I did what Jesus did.

I escaped.

The Lord provided multiple opportunities for about 6 consecutive weekends to get away from the house. I went alone and I was filled. I did a lot of crying and crying out. I was also blessed with laughter, relief, and missed my children terribly. we did very light school during the week and we started to heal. And I came back demanding to my husband that we get counseling. Which we did.

But, there are some interesting things that I have observed now that we have survived:

  • My kids are stronger. Their character is noticed by strangers. They may bear the marks what we endured, but overall they are better for it. Although I would never want them to go through it again.
  • My kids still learned stuff.
  • I realized that as long as they are learning something… What difference does it make? They can’t learn everything.
  • That it’s o.k to not learn multiplication and that you can use a calculator. (I figure she will get it eventually)
  • The kids have learned that marriages are worth fighting for. That they can be saved and they can be more enriching on the other side.
  • I’ve changed the way we do school since the fall out. Our kids are each designed for their own path. If my daughter want’s to spend every waking moment to learn about horses, then why not? She knows more about animals and the environment than I ever will. And her horizon is expanding.

So, my marriage crisis has been liberating in many ways. I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to experience that pain. But, the Lord really does work all things together for good for those who love Him.

And I love Him an awful lot.

Nicky CraytonNicky is a topsy turvy mom of 7 that God pulled up by her bootstraps.  Her life is a living story of Grace’s redemptive power.  She’s now grabbing hold of a radical life, by pursuing full time missions in South Africa.  Enjoy the journey at the craytonclan.com