Posted by : Karen Sunday, October 09, 2011

precious 5 year old today!
It's funny how hindsight can allow you to see things clearly. And as I think back over what initially propelled me to homeschool, I smile. It started with a very simple thing really – attending a Moms and Babes workshop in Plumstead (when we first moved to Cape Town), I remember hearing moms talk week in and week out about where they were going to send their kids to school – and the ensuing stress if they weren't in the right zone, or if it was too late already to put their kids names down. All this and our babies were only 6 months old! I think that was the very first time I thought clearly, “God I want something other. I don't want to buy into this rat race for my children from such a young age. Surely Lord, there is another way to live?”

nothing quite like doing
school on the trampoline!

Coming from Zimbabwe, South Africa had surprised us with a culture shock even though both Braveheart and I had studied here, and we had spent many holidays here too. From the beginning of living here as parents, I noticed subtle differences in our cultures. Initially we lived in Plumstead, but it seemed that the further into the deep south of Cape Town we went, the more family orientated, the more rural, the more it felt like Zimbabwe to us (no offence to any Capetownians – these were my honest impressions in those early days!). And so after returning from South Korea for the second time, we moved to the southern peninsula of Cape Town.

WE loved how free it felt...and really felt God impress on us how much he had called us to a life of freedom, a life outside the systems of the world and its ways. It's actually surprisingly hard to articulate that lucidly. At the time, it was the most natural journey in the world. And slowly, God began to speak to me about my children and their education. At the time King Arthur was almost two.

I knew so little about homeschooling, I did what I love to do – started researching. Now what you may not know is that I am actually a high school English and Geography teacher. Teaching is something I wanted to do from the time I was 6 years old – my poor younger brother was subjected to endless games of school when we were young! I taught my heart out in Zim, and loved every minute of it, even the marking! Teenagers make me come alive, and I LOVED it.

Belle pretending to
do Math

But here I was, spending hours initially following leads people gave me of people they knew who homeschooled. I would phone them up, out of the blue, and ask them some very strange questions! The more I read, the more deeply I examined the pros and cons, the more I felt swayed. Braveheart and I are brilliant communicators, and as I read and researched, we spent hours chatting. Once we eventually had internet (yes it took a while to get it!), I devoured everything I could find. I found out about the Homeschool Kitchen Table e-loop, and posted an honest question on it – asking what homeschooling really looked like and had an amazing response from veteran homeschool moms, who shared the inner working of their days with me. One mom offered to meet with me, and that meeting clinched it.

For us, the reason we homeschool is birthed in God. Right from then I knew God wanted it for our family. For me, I knew he was calling me into a season where I had to stand on my own before God, ruthlessly following him and not doing what I had done all my life – follow other people that I admired and respected. No one I knew had ever homeschooled. No, God wanted me to trust and rely on him alone. And he was going to ask me to do the same with our journey into homeschooling.

When King Arthur was 5, I was ready to take him out of nursery school and start homeschooling , when I felt God tell me it was not yet time. That floored me because everything I had read encouraged me to start as soon as I was certain. Again, it was God's way of forcing me to do it his way...leading me into freedom by only looking to him for affirmation. Fast forward another year, and we began!

At this point, we homeschool our eldest son, King Arthur, who has been in grade One this year. We seek God for each of our children individually, and for each year. And at this point our youngest children attend two different nursery schools four days a week. Each school was chosen prayerfully at the beginning of the year, and as I've watched them grow this year. I have seen all three of my kids blossom. And as we pray into next year, we're changing schools for Belle, knowing that we are placing her where God wants her. Sometimes I do wonder at God and what he's doing. And other times I can see his wisdom. I've come to realize my limitations, and I know that I do not yet have his grace to homeschool them all at once. And although that is personally freeing, it still takes great courage to be in the middle of two camps – I'm not truly a pure bred homeschooler, neither am I a mainstream mother!

I know this post doesn't really do justice to any of the reasons that first swayed me to follow this path. And I think I know why. I'm at a different point in the journey right now. Had I written this a few years ago, it would have been a school bashing/homeschool praising list. Perhaps a time will some when I’ll examine the finer intricate reasons, but for now...

This journey?

It started somewhere in disbelief (what are all these people on about? School is normal!), then absolute acceptance and fundamentalism (homeschooling is the only RIGHT thing to do, therefore all and any school is bad) to now being absolutely convinced that the only way to walk along this journey is to keep your eyes on Christ and follow him – for your family.
Every family is unique, every mother is unique, and I believe God wants unique things from all of us. I truly believe that.

If you have chosen prayerfully to walk along the mainstream school route, may you be blessed. And if you're journeying alongside me, how wonderful! I am loving homeschooling my eldest child, loving my younger two attending nursery school, their wonderful teachers, their happy fun and I am looking forward to continuing on this journey.

It's a journey of wonderful grace. 

This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page.   In the meantime, head to SACH Carnival #2 - Outings for this week's carnival.  We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

7 Responses so far.

  1. Happy birthday to both boys - hope they've had special days!!!! Love you lots

  2. Tanja says:

    I'm really enjoying reading about how other families found their way to homeschooling.
    It's also nice to hear how you balance homeschooling and nursery school. It illustrates what I think is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling...that nothing is set in stone forever and we can find a way that's best for each of the members of our family!

  3. I agree with Tanja - we are definitely blessed with many freedoms :)

  4. Nadene says:

    I love your statement, "It's a journey of wonderful grace." I marvel how God's grace takes away all my extremes views and ideals and brings understanding and mercy. And homeschooling through high school requires more grace. I am so grateful to the Lord for this journey! Blessings!

  5. Thank you for sharing your joyful journey... my youngest also loves doing school on the trampoline, but without the books... he calls it Trampoline Maths... I ask the questions whilst he jumps to calculate. :)

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for sharing. I felt such a kinship as those were the same things I went through. Listening to how frustrated and stressed other parents were, not wanting the same for our family, and eventually realising that HS is what God wants for us, and with us His will comes first. We are now also in a two-leg stream where some friends are HS, while others are mainstream, and we respect each other's choices.
    It truly is a wonderful journey of grace.
    Elize van der Merwe

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Elize
    It's great to know what similar paths we walk...may we both continue to walk more and more into this wonderful grace!

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