Down an amazing set of stairs at Mineral Wells State Park, we found a big rock to pull out our lunch and eat together. The incredible calmness of the park was interrupted by the bickering of my children. I can't recall the details of this particular argument, but I can see it in their faces. I know that body language. Girls arguing - brother coming to make peace. One inevitable side effect of spending immense amounts of time with anyone is conflict.
- I had no idea how many opportunities I would have to train my children to resolve conflict. Sweeping issues under the rug is not an option if you spend time together all day every day. This aspect of homeschooling may have been the absolute hardest, but it was also what won my heart to homeschool through high school. This was what God had called me to do.
- Advice to self: Deal with conflict quickly and then resolve quickly. It might feel easier to ignore it, but if you do, your world will blow up one day!
As we continued our journey around the lake, we paused to look at the unique flowers that lined the trails. Since the summer was winding down, the plant life looked a bit worn out.
- I had no idea how important it would be to stay in God's word; to keep my soul watered, so that at the end of a season I would still bear fruit and not be withered and scorched.
- Advice to self: Psalm 90:14 "Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." (NIV)
let made my son lead, which also meant I had to hold my middle girlie back from taking over. Hesitatingly, he took the first few steps down the trail. It didn't take him long to find a walking stick to clear the path of spider webs, but I was proud of him for stepping up and doing hard things.
- I had no idea how many opportunities I would have to allow my boy to be a man.
- Advice to self: Recognize that raising a boy is different than raising a girl. Affirm him in his differences. Above all, realize that your words matter more than you know.
- I had no idea how important it would be to give him opportunities to lead.
- Advice to self: Give up the desire to just do something quickly so it can be done. Allow him to fail. Don't humiliate him when he does. Leading well takes practice. Let him practice on you.
As we circled the lake, we found a pier where we could see some men gearing up to fish. They reminded me of my dad. We would watch fishing shows on Sunday afternoons, and I remember how strategic fishermen had to be to catch the big fish.
- I had no idea how strategic I would need to be to entice my young learners to love learning; how I would have to cultivate my craft so that I didn't scare them away before they even had a chance to be curious.
- Advice to self: Be curious. Learn to ask good questions of things while you read. Start asking those questions out loud. Slow down. Smell a flower. Observe an inch worm. Throw away the check list if it turns your school into a conveyor belt.
We took some time to pause and throw rocks into the lake. What is so fun about watching a rock plop in the water? Incredibly, we could have done this for hours.
- I had no idea how important it would be to play with my children...to let them be kids, and join in on their fun. The moment I join their world, I gain trust in ways that I could never achieve by my own devices. The trick is not being a kid all the time!
- Advice to self: Get good rest. You won't want to play if you're exhausted all the time. Resist the temptation to stay up late after they've gone to bed to get "stuff" done. *Still working on this one!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.