The truth is, we have always had the vision to educate our kids through high school. We didn't want to start something that we would not finish. Somewhere down the line we became open to the idea of putting my son in school when he reached 9th grade, and became even more so as I saw friends whom I truly respected and had worked side-by-side with make that choice for their families. For some, that is the right path to take. On the other hand, I have always approached the education of my kids as spiritual assignment, a calling, not just for them, but also for me. Where I am called to do a job, I have to have the faith that God will equip me to complete the work according to the grace he provides for me.
We prayed about it, especially when my son began voicing the desire to go to school. I had to question sincerely if this was God's way of redirecting us. He had joined youth group, and being with a group of kids who mostly went to public school, he felt a strong curiosity about their experience. I did not want to minimize his desires and we considered them carefully. His dad and I prayed about what to do. It became very clear to me in my heart, however, as though the Lord was speaking again to me, "It is not what I called you to." Glen and I had a choice to make. I knew I was taking a risk--a growing young man who has the attitude that he wants something different than what we are providing has the potential to be a tinderbox. I was not certain that he would accept our decision. There have been many long conversations, but after a man-to-man talk with his dad, he came to the conclusion that he could obey us on this matter, and his heart has been at peace since. I don't know exactly what was said in that conversation, but I am glad for a husband who can speak to his son's heart with the result of obedience with understanding and peace.
So here we are on the threshold. My son, according to conventional school schedules, is a rising 9th grader. I think of him more as entering the rhetoric stage of learning. He is a young man, changing quickly in all of his thoughts and attitudes. His understanding of life and people is maturing and I see not a child, but man emerging. I love his sense of humor, the way he thinks, his work ethic. Truthfully, I'm so glad that we will be keeping him at home because I would hate to miss out on this wonderful stage of life! Keeping him at home for his education also gives us the opportunity to foster these positive qualities in him on a deeper level. He has found ways to earn money by cutting grass, running a small car detailing business, and doing odd jobs for people as they need. He is committed to physical training through CrossFit and olympic weightlifting, and he enjoys participating in church activities, and serves willingly. Yes, I'm biased, but what mom wouldn't want to see these things in a son? I'm humbled--I know that it is not because of what I have done, but what the Lord is doing in my son. I am honored to be a part of that, and it causes me to seek Him for guidance all the more in my parenting.
I go back periodically and look at the vision and mission statements that my husband and I composed when we first started using Tapestry of Grace as a curriculum. Through the years there have been subtle changes in curricula and intensity, co-ops and independence. The vision and mission, however have never changed. Our vision statement reads:
To raise and educate whole-hearted individuals who are life-long learners, who understand and carry out our purpose and obligation to the Almighty, from worship to the spread of the gospel, to the establishment of Godly generations until the return of Christ. (Psalm 145:1-8)
Our mission statement is:
Learn from the Past, Educate for the Future
It has been our desire to raise children who are emotionally healthy. I have always believed in sheltering them (which is not the same as overprotecting), and instructing them from the Word of God first and foremost. The study of history and literature and the development of scientific thought is also highly valued in our instruction. The preparation of the mind for the future by studying the victories and failures of the past will equip my children to understand the world as they navigate life in the future. It is also my hope that the decision to keep my son at home through high school will have the effect of keeping him emotionally and spiritually centered. It is my hope to provide him with ample opportunities for learning with others, socializing with his peers, competition, travel, and even proper rest and relaxation. I want him to have a balanced experience of life--one that is free and unencumbered by institutional instruction. That has always been my hope, and it has not changed.
The higher learning journey begins now. As I say in my sidebar, I write this for myself--If you have read to here, thank you, but this is a post in which I have taken the time to remind myself of our calling and purposes that we set out to fulfill when we began this journey. It is certainly not normal in our day and age. I do believe however that it is right. We will carry on. I feel excited. I have a fresh dose of inspiration after enduring a fairly long and dry season, and I cannot wait to see what happens!