Thursday, May 27, 2010

Unschooling & Sheparding.

Since becoming a parent, I have been questioned about everything.
Not immunizing our children, how many children we will or will not have, how we discipline them and why we are choosing to home school them are common topics among critics. Although I have direct responses to every single question, having done my research, and spending much time in prayer, I often choose not to address such issues here.

Today I want to share with you, though, a little bit about our choice to keep our children at home for their education.
I have been asked alot recently what kind of curriculum we will use when we begin "schooling" the children. Well, it's simple. There will be a mixture of curriculum's used. I have looked over several and like parts of some and parts of others. The kids are still very little, however, so for the first couple of years we will be involved mainly in Unschooling. Which, in a way, we are all involved in anyway. I will begin a more structured way of teaching them in a couple of years.
Unschooling is, in it's simplest definition, allowing the kids to learn and think on their own apart from a school setting or a direct format. It's teaching them how to make change and deal with money by buying stamps at the post office (remember the story about my brother, Jake?) It is about letting them be in the midst of the most beautiful garden, planting onion seeds only to watch them grow into a beautiful vegetable weeks later. Unschooling is about allowing the people who are already in our lives to teach them lessons that only they can teach. Their grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, elders, etc.
Thankfully, we have alot of wonderful people that surround us who have already begun their teaching.
Take, 'Uncle Mike' for example. He is dedicated to making sure these children learn the value of nutrition and healthy eating so their bodies can give them the best possible life.

And they are learning...
Granted, I still get the occasional person who will make the comment to our children, "...well when you go to school you'll learn____" or something along those lines. Some even come from members of our family. I used to correct them. I don't anymore. I'm not sure if it's hard for them to accept that the kids will be staying home, if they are worried I am not capable of teaching them, if they believe children need 'structure,' 'interaction,' and 'discipline,' in a school setting, or if they are just plain uncomfortable with our choice. Either way, Nora is now able to answer for herself,
"Mommy is my teacher."
And as her mommy, I am confident in my ability to provide all she needs in a learning environment.
Learning, interacting, developing, disciplining --but most of all...
Shepherding, by definition, means to "tend to, feed, and guard sheep, especially in flocks. Also refers to a person who gives religious guidance."

A few months ago Braden stopped going to the nursery at church. He didn't want to be away from me and cried so hard when I would leave him. So I stopped leaving him.
For 3 weeks or more, Nora hasn't wanted me to leave the house without her. So since then, she has gone with me. I could leave them. I could choose to let them cry it out.
Instead, I am choosing to enter a different frame of mind, one that requires much more patience and discipline on my part, and Shepard them at every opportunity. I am trying desperately to embrace every chance I can to have them with me and teach them along the way.

I am about to have 3 children.
And someday, I may have more. This means that no matter what I do, from this point on, I will always have a child with me all of the time. I realize that I need to come to this understanding now, adjust to it, and reflect on my role as a mother and a Shepard to the flock the Lord has given me. I am in the midst of child-rearing. The "baby-raising years," as I like to call them, and for now this is my most important role.
Everything else comes second to my mothering until I know that I have equipped them well enough to embark on a different journey.
For now, I am accountable to God for this journey.

Some mothers choose to work. And that is ok. Some mothers have to work, and I understand. I am blessed beyond measure and I don't take it for granted. I get to see these children grow and learn every single day and I get to be a part of it. I plan to do everything I can to make sure that they are satisfied, and thriving.

I assure you, though, that our children may learn more scripture than math problems. They may learn how to make homemade salsa more quickly than they learn how to write a rhyming poem. Or they may not. But I will do my best to see that they are given the opportunity to spend time interacting with the older generation, asking questions and listening to them. I will give them the chance to spend time sitting in church rather than in the nursery...and if they are a distraction to you, well I apologize. But they are learning. And that is my priority. I will see to it that they get to be outside learning about bees & flowers (as they help me plant them) rather than in a classroom doing worksheets about them. I will make sure we spend time outside of our home going on "field trips" even if they are just to Nanny's farm. Because, oh the things they can learn there!

Nora may grow up and choose to be just a stay-at-home mom or housewife, &
Braden may grow up and choose to just work hard with his hands to provide for his family rather than either of them choosing to go to college.
And in our world, crazy as it may be, those things are ok with us. In fact, we will encourage them in whatever journey they feel God is leading them on. Homemaking & physically working hard may be looked down upon in this generation, but at the heart of Jesus, I believe there is a deep appreciation for the lost art of it all.

Some of my main goals in unschooling the children and eventually homeschooling them are:
* To teach them about Jesus and to make sure everything we do is Christ-centered.

* To make sure they remain individuals and have each of their own needs met while learning.

* To allow them to touch, smell, breathe and feel as they are learning.

* To teach respect, obedience, perseverance and diligence.

* Not to shelter them, rather Shepard them.

* To make sure that their dad can be as involved as I am in their learning.

* To allow them time with the people in their lives who will, with no doubt, teach them the most important lessons they could ever learn.

* To guide them morally, rather than allow a system to influence their minds.
Example: I will teach them both about creation and evolution. In a public school system, they will only hear one side. They deserve to hear both and ask questions, thus allowing them to make their own decisions based on that teaching.
...and honestly, our list of reasons as to why we want to keep our children at home for their learning goes on and on.

The Lord is quickening me lately,
"Shepard them." "Tend to them." "Nourish them."
and I am.
and I will.
I am devoted to this calling & this journey.
It excites me!

Why do you home school your children?
In what ways do you see them unschooling already?
Do you have questions?
Email me at or leave a comment!
Enjoy your flock today, friends.


Sarah said...

I loved todays post. You are so inspirational!!

I love your feelings on 'unschooling' and agree with you in so many ways.

I was never 100% sure that homeschooling was right for me until I heard you talk about it. Now we are SURE that it's in our future...and I am very excited about that.

brandy said...

I love this post, love you heart for shepardinyou your children! I also feel very similar as you do! It excites me to the core to teach my babies and it's a passion of mine also! I love how you said "I am accountable to God for this journey!" Very true! Couldn't agree with you more on this subject! :-) We also get lots of comments for the way we "chose" to live and raise as many blessings as the Lord gives us! I look forward to hearing all of your other views on things.. such as vaccinations! :-) Maybe that could be your next topic!

Anonymous said...

I try very hard to not judge another parent on how they raise their kids. I used to and then I realized how wrong and stupid it was of me. Now, I just do what I do to raise my daughter and let everyone do the same with their kids. There is no right or wrong. Every choice is a tough one to make and in the end everyone has to do what is right for them.

I am very respectful of your choice to homeschool. I wish I could homeschool Miranda but Adam won't let me. He thinks it's too weird. We've decided to compromise and she will still attend public school as well as have some supplemental learning with me especially during the summer break and vacations.

Be proud of your decisions that you make and shout them loud! :)

Kristi said...

Love the pics of Nora planting her crops - what a sweetie!

We all parent differently & have to do what we feel is right for our family. I applaud you for standing up for what you believe is right! We moved off our farm to get our kids into a great school district. We took alot of flack for it (not many farmers move off their farm...also, moving out of a free home - you get the picture!).

Sparkling Adventures said...

Now that our oldest is school-age, I am starting to field many questions... And I'm never sure how to respond.

I know that home-education is right for us. I know that unschooling is the best method. I feel confident that our kids will learn, but still...

Oh, may I look back at our journey and see how God has held us in the palm of his hand -- including with the kids' education!

Tiffany said...

Absolutely beautiful post! I agree with so much that you have written here!! I love how you are embracing this phase of your life - your childrens childhood. Thank you for sharing so openly!!

PS Can we be friends on facebook? I think I could keep up with you better! Ha!

Firecracker said...

I believe in what you have to say 100%.

Amanda said...

Hi Ramee!
Long time reader, first time "commenter". ha! There is no question, however it is done, that it is our God given responsibility (and blessing) to Shepherd our children. The way I see it, is as long as there are differences in how parents choose to raise their child/children (and we ALL know there are) it then becomes...well, untraditional. So, technically, all parents can say they raise their children untraditionally. :o) I'm so glad to hear that you're sticking to your way, regardless of how "untraditional" it may be to some. Great Post!