Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Small steps ~ The courage to do something different...

     When I began this blog, I did so rather tentatively, and I didn't even have the courage to tell you the real reason WHY I started it. (Deep Breath.) A lot of what I have written about is what is close to my faith, and my family. Because they are so intimately connected, it is often hard to separate the two, or to even put into eloquent words exactly what is on my heart and mind. So now, thanks to Elizabeth's gentle prompting about courage this month, I feel that it is time to finally come clean....
      Joe, my oldest, has had a very difficult third grade year...and after much deliberation, heartache, tears...I believe that as a family, we have come to the decision to home school next year. Now for some, that may not be a big deal, or even anything to think twice about. But for me, a teacher by trade who comes from a long line of educators, this is just epic. For goodness sake, I went to public school, my dad was my principal in middle school, and I have taught in both public and private institutions.  I recognize the shortfalls and wonders of every place of education, and truly honor all of the wonderful educators that have crossed my path.

      However, I am the parent of a child that is having a very difficult time navigating the current system. Joe is that kid who is extremely sensitive to lights and to sounds, and being in a classroom with 29 (!) children, even one that is efficiently run, is just not where he is excelling. When he asks me if he can stay home for the day, my heart aches, for I know that I am sending him to a place that is making him anxious. He is so endearing, however, and his teacher adores him, and is helping him through it all, within reason.... We work closely together to ensure that he is not getting mixed messages. I have always been the parent that pushes him to work through whatever feelings, problems, or trials come his way. This time, however, I feel that we have reached a crossroads, and something else needs to happen. My child needs to be nourished spiritually, not just academically.... (But then my own demons start to talk...Who am I to teach my child? Why not just send him to a school with smaller class sizes? What makes me think that I could possibly do this? Am I crazy?) Then I came across this little gem:

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength. ~ August Wilson

     Wait a minute? Who am I NOT to teach my child? Regardless of the fact that I am a certified teacher, I also know what is in his heart, and know what he needs in a learning environment. I am blessed to be able to be at home with his little brother, so why not also guide and encourage my sweet, sensitive, intelligent child? Why not allow him to grow in faith, while also teaching his little brother? This is what I enjoy about being a mother....watching moments like this that happen naturally:

     I am sure that there are those friends and family members who are cringing as they read this. (There goes that crazy girl yet again, making a decision without thinking it through.) On the contrary, it is one of the most talked about, prayed about decisions that Tom and I have ever made. Every year, in fact, we have discussed Joe's educational track, and feel that for the most part, we have made the best decision at that time. Now, however, homeschooling is indeed what is calling us. To allow Joe to become, once again, the confident, peaceful child that he once was.
     I know that the big question has been (and will be) about socialization. SIGH. Well, to be quite honest, it's the social piece that is causing him the heartache. Believe me, if it was academics, we would have had an IEP in progress, and I would have been on the school about accommodations... I know my limitations with teaching, and look to professionals for certain things. But this is about my child's heart. His sense of self. His soul.
     As we go through this next year, and as I look forward to exploring classic literature, and taking in depth nature walks, it is my hope that I can share with you (if I have the courage) our successes and trials. I have a hard time believing in myself and my abilities, and I suppose that that is why I ask people a thousand questions. I am in awe of those wonderful women who have already had the courage to home school. Women who don't even realize their strengths...
   My latest prayer regarding courage has been, and will continue to be this:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
 ~ Isaiah 41:10
      This next year holds many promises, many challenges, many gifts. Please come along with me as I attempt to sow the seeds of faith, love, and character, and help my child to recognize the great gift of his life. If I only have the courage....  So thank you, Elizabeth, for helping me to take a step forward....

 Come along and see what others have to say about


  1. Mary Jo,

    Reading your post was like reading my mind a year ago. Could you e-mail me at I have lots of words of encouragement to you and some wisdom I've learned in the process, but this space is too small and probably not the right one.
    I will pray for courage for you today. In prayer you will make the best decision for your child even if there are some who may not understand.
    Hugs, sister-friend.

  2. I don't know your son Mary Jo, but this seems like such a wise, courageous, strong decision.
    The wounds of childhood are hard to erase...and there's a time, especially when he's so young, for protecting his heart.
    We wrestled with education options for our oldest and I also the idea of homeschool was a struggle for me.
    We only homeschool part-time, but it has been such a huge blessing for her and also for our family. Praying you'll have courage to do whatever God leads you to....because that really is the question that carries weight:
    What is God telling us is best for our family, for our little guy?

  3. Clarkie is very sensitive to light and sounds as well. We had him diagnosed with sensory integration disorder. We are seeing the most amazing OT ever!!! If you are interested in her info, let me know. I can't tell you what a blessing she has been. Both kids are seeing her, actually.

  4. MJ & Tom, I trust you to make the right decision regarding Joe's schooling. You are both well educated and experienced and clearly have Joe's welfare in mind all the time. You are great, caring parents. You will make a great home-schooling teacher (you already have been, for years!) I support you fully. Let us know how it progresses and what we can do to re-inforce what you are doing.
    Lots of love to all four of you! --Dad Q.

  5. When we were getting ready to homeschool Elise for second grade, I read "The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home" by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Fabulous book. Loved it. Highly recommend it as you explore what's next. Love you!

  6. MaryJo,
    Praying for peace for you as you journey along this road with your son.{} Parenting is one of the hardest but most rewarding roles we ever undertake. And homeschooling has many of its own rewards. Sending you lots of encouragement:)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...