Homeschooling My Six

A GP, “You have six children!? Well congratulations! And you’re homeschooling them!” It’s amazing what people can do. Are they all yours?”

When it comes to home education, my problem isn’t the number of children I have, more than it’s how disparate their educational needs and abilities are. If I had six children all between age 16 and 10 and with no extra challenges, it would be so much easier. And if none had special needs, I’d be less stressed too. It takes time finding a curriculum for neurotypical children. Add significant and varied special needs, and it becomes complicated. What do you do for the one who loves to read but has visual processing disorder? What about the one who is six years old but whose developmental stage is mostly that of a three year old, but already knows the info you’d teach a three year old? What about the fact that they don’t know the meanings of the words they so confidently use and you as teacher don’t realise it till it’s used in the wrong context?

Honestly, homeschooling is difficult. I think also for me, the reason I chose it was to give a spiritual foundation that hopefully would be unshakable. I can only hope that the future will reveal that my prayers are answered. It’s difficult in that there are not enough hours in the day when you have so many children. They don’t each need planning for their own specific lesson, but they need teaching and correcting. They need mom time that has nothing to do with being educated, but more with just being with “mommy-the cuddler and comforter when we fall.” It’s difficult not because there is so much work to do, but because it tears at the heart and mind. “Am I reaching their hearts and souls? With how busy I am, do they know I love them and would rather be cuddling in bed reading to them, or giving them hugs, rather than hiding in my room blogging making up Maths tests to administer?”

It’s dishes when back pain cripples you. It’s cooking when you can’t finish the entire meal without needing to go lie down. It’s fitting in time for exercise and knowing that that time took away from cutting up activities for a child. It’s hanging washing when there are three more loads to go-just on that day. And more during the week. It’s wondering why both your teens inherited your Maths brain-I’m NOT great at Maths.

It’s coaxing children who have no heart for learning. It’s downloading videos on the Periodic Table only for a teen to ask a simple question that reveals that they didn’t watch the entire video at all..a video you gave them to watch while you rested your back and prepared school lessons for the other children. It’s trying to figure out how to motivate extrinsically when both of us parents had motivation intrinsically. We loved to learn. We loved to read and gain knowledge. As soon as I got my textbooks, I was reading them and writing notes. Even before the school year began and I knew that we’d study that particular chapter. How do you implant that love of learning in disinterested offspring? You can teach, but if their minds are elsewhere…

Homeschooling is about the mind and soul. It’s about teaching them to be godly today and tomorrow. It’s encouraging them to be missionaries. It’s praying that they will be converted and love God and His principles. It’s about academics. Choosing subjects. Teaching subjects I never studied-like Economics or Business Studies. It’s about special needs-finding practice sheets for visual processing disorder and trying to discourage a child from attempting what you know is beyond their reach and will just distress them, while encouraging their minds to keep progressing. It’s about you as the teacher studying all the various disorders and challenges they have so you know how tailor your teaching. And what not to bother trying to teach (yet.)

It’s about prayer. Praying that you’re really doing all you can for them. It’s praying that they mature into people who loves others enough to serve them. Either as full time missionaries or as missionaries in their secular workplaces. It’s about praying that when Jesus comes to distribute crowns, He will count you as a “good and faithful” servant. It’s about obeying what His word says and hoping that your pupils will ever use that same Word as their guidebook when they go out into the world and away from home-those who do have the capacity to live independently. Prayer. Day and night.

This is what homeschooling is for ME. Mrs Thandi Refilwe-Rose Nkomo.

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