This weekend my extended family celebrated my youngest sister’s graduation from high school.
My parents began homeschooling way back in the fall of 1988. I was starting 8th grade and I had 4 younger siblings starting in their respective grades. As the oldest of 9 kids, we had attended a private christian school up to this point but for a variety of reasons homeschooling was the way my parents decided to go at that time. It didn’t take too long before they realized this was a wonderful decision and in my opinion probably one of the best parenting decisions they ever made. I was homeschooled from 8th grade thru high school graduation. My sister that is #5 in birth order was the first to homeschool all the way from Kindergarten through high school.
So, over the past 24 years, my parents have homeschooled. It’s become a way of life. You know, where school and home life interchange till you aren’t really sure which is which ;-) And trips anywhere become a field trip. And field trips become family vacations. Life in a home where the dining room is the school room and any spare wall is filled with either a bookshelf or a map. And now, this year, they are graduating their last child. The little girl who was born the year after I graduated from high school. That makes me feel old, thank you very much.
So, as part of my sister’s graduation, we snuck in a little surprise for my parents and put together a “slide show” highlighting the 24 years of schooling. It was fun to go back through the gazillions of photos we have. And picking out just a few was a challenge. Actually, we ended up with about 10 minutes worth of pictures at about 5 seconds a picture!….. and I think we might have a little gap in the years between the actual film photos that are sorted and put away and the beginning of the digital age of photos…… but hopefully it wasn’t too noticeable ;-)
When the “middle child” – #5 – graduated back in 2001, we gave Mom a little train car figurine. It was symbolic of the “little engine that could” reaching the top of the mountain and the fact that with 5 kids graduated and just 4 kids to go, it was the “it’s all downhill” from here idea. So, earlier this year, my youngest sister started looking for a similar figurine to give mom at her graduation, but this time, a train pulling into the station. The end of the train had arrived. She found the perfect one on Ebay ;-)
My thoughts as I began this post was to acknowledge and share a little bit of my own homeschool background and to share the celebration of the completion of a homeschool journey. But really, the journey isn’t over for my parents. The road is just taking a noticeable turn and change. They may not have any more children they are schooling and raising at home, but they have 15 grandkids, with 2 on the way (and 4 siblings haven’t even gotten started yet!), there is another whole generation coming up. A generation, each in their own families, but with a shared history of this family, their homeschool experience and values that have been passed down. A generation that has grandparents that are thrilled to hear the details of a school child’s day, that can be so impressed at the sharing of the mummification process or the recitation of a poem memorized. Or, as my oldest said once in reply to my “I don’t know the answer to that”, “well, we can just call grammie then, she would know”.
As I think about homeschooling for the next (at least) 18 years with my soon-to-be 6 children, it seems like a long road. A long time. A lot of information and learning I want to pass on to my children. But it is a journey. I don’t have to do it all this year. Or even next year. Training up a child is a long process and it takes time. It takes many years of building little by little till at the end of the journey, Lord willing, a Godly, competent, well-rounded man or lady is beginning their “adult life”. I want to build into my children, not only a good and well-rounded education, but more importantly, a person of character, one who loves God and shows wisdom in their life. I keep coming back to this verse as I think about these things.…
“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7b-8
And I am reminded of the sign that hangs in our dining room/school room ;-)……
“The highest goal of learning is to know God”
And knowing myself and my siblings the way I do, I would say my parents were successful, we may not all remember the presidents in order or be able to recite back the list of prepositions perfectly, but we do all know God and continue to increase in His wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Well done, mom and dad, thank you for many years of sacrificial giving and teaching.
I loved this quote and wanted to share, the blog post that went with it was excellent as well and you can read it here!