As my eldest is getting near the end of her homeschooling journey, I’m turning attention more and more toward supporting her to become who she is meant to be.
|As teens, they are starting to spread their wings|
Back in March of 2016, I wrote a blog post that sort of touched on this (see http://boyschooling.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-best-job-in-world.html).
What I didn’t make clear is that these thoughts had started out from a place of fear - fear that cookie-cutter education was going to try to shape her into something she wasn’t created for. I’d seen glimpses of it already at nursery, where her personality was clashing with “the way things are done”, and the pressure to conform one’s behaviour to make the least possible waves was being frequently impressed upon her and the other children in her class.
So, like I said in the earlier blog post, sometimes we may begin down a path because we’re running away from something, only to discover that it’s actually the better journey.
In this case, I suppose I’m talking about purpose. Or vision. Or even career.
The first time I realised that homeschooling entailed the unearthing of a pre-designed, perfect path for each of my children was upon reading one of the greatest homeschooling books of all time: the Clarksons’ Educating the Wholehearted Child.
|Some of Sally's best homeschooling books|
I’m so glad this was one of the first books about homeschooling I ever stumbled upon in the book store. Chapter 1 is called “The Christian Home”, and my original edition from 2001 is simply coloured yellow because I highlighted every single sentence and verse in the margins. (I’ve since bought the 2011 edition when Sally herself was having lunch in my home, and told me the 3rd edition had new chapters in it about high school. My chapter 1 is now highlighted in blue!).
It was here that I was struck by Proverbs 22 about training your children the way they should go. The more I looked into the verse, the more I came to understand that it didn’t mean you should make sure they go to church when they’re young so they stay a Christian all their lives, but that you should nurture their natural tendencies - their God-given personalities and talents - and then see them succeed at what God has designed for them all along.
Of course, that’s more easily said than done. You know how it is when they’re 8 and want to be a police doctor who rides a motorcycle; or a daddy of 11 children who lives at home with you and calls the children AJ, BJ, CJ, DJ, etc; or they just want to be a frog.
But here’s the thing … there comes a time when your children will be 15 or 16 or 17, and something is blossoming inside them that you can see is a yearning, a burning, a passion.
|Something just starts to bloom in a teen|
For my eldest, this happened in September of 2015 while we were reading the opening of Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I picked it as our “inspirational book” for the year because she was talking about going to university to study astronomy.
I did not know it would be the most life-changing book for her that we’ve ever read.
Hadfield was the first Canadian in space. The book is a thought-provoking look at the lessons he learned while being an astronaut that can be helpfully applied in our mundane lives here on earth: issues like sweating the small stuff (because being inattentive can cause havoc); or why aiming to be a zero can be a good thing; or how to carry on after “mountain top” experiences.
The fact that Hadfield ever got on the “mountain top” of space exploration is a miracle: when he first decided he wanted to be an astronaut in 1969, there was no Canadian space program, and NASA took no foreign astronauts.
Basically, the dream was nothing more than a fantasy.
Except for one thing: Hadfield wasn’t going to give up. He started to live his life as though he would one day be an astronaut: he made choices at school, university, in his job, all focused on getting him ready to be an astronaut, even with everything stacked against him.
This point about an early life focus is made in the book about page 4: “From that night [of the Apollo 11 landing], my dream provided direction to my life. I recognized even as a 9-year-old that I had a lot of choices and my decisions mattered.”
It was upon reading that sentence that my eldest burst into tears. I’ll spare you the histrionics that followed, but eventually, I got out of her that she didn’t want to be an astronaut or a scientist or a linguist or any of the choices ahead of her, but a writer.
She always dreamed of being a writer, she was writing at the moment, she was going to keep writing and become a writer. In fact, she vowed that very day that she was going to live her life from then on as though she IS a writer, not a wannabe, not a dreamer, but despite the odds, a bona fide author.
|Helping her achieve her dream is a great privilege|
The way this decision has influenced her path ever since is clear. She is doing what every successful author has done - she writes and writes and writes. She studies the craft, she reads, she networks, she gets mentored and she mentors others, and slowly, the efforts are starting to pay off, even now.
I’m still waiting for the a-ha moment for my other three children (to be honest, I think I’m waiting for it for myself, too!), but just knowing and believing that these people, these human beings, are created for unique callings, I’m on the look out for clues.
|This one may be a long-time in the process!|
If we have one job that we should do well as homeschooling parents, it’s exploring and trying to discern what their paths are.
In the next blog post, I’m going to share with you some ideas from Vicki Tillman of Seven Sisters Homeschool. She is a career- and life-transition coach, who will have tips and ideas for how we parents can support our children in this essential endeavour.