Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Finding The Answers

I was a young teaching assistant standing in front of twenty college students when one raised her hand and asked the answer to an economic problem. I had recently passed my doctoral exams in economics, but I did not know the answer.

After a fleeting moment of panic, I said, “Let’s work the problem together.” Step by step, I led the class until we had a solution. More importantly, I had an epiphany.

I had not been trained to know all the answers. I had been trained to find the answers.

That was the difference between me and my students. My job was not to give them answers but to show them how to find their own answers. Along the way, I watched many students hunt and find the correct answers

Corrie ten Boom is one of my heroines. Her parents did not give her the answers for surviving the Holocaust. However, they trained her to find the answers she needed. (See In My Father’s House by ten Boom for more.)

Even today, it helps me to know my adult sons know where and how to find correct answers.

Training anyone?

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Allowing Space to Grow

I dislike gaps in my flower beds. Therefore, I never planted my marigold seedlings the recommended distance apart—eight to ten inches for French marigolds and a full twelve inches for African marigolds.  I learned the error of my ways when I passed marigolds beside a city sidewalk. One seedling had grown into a small bush. I checked. One stalk.

Room to thrive. September 2019

Disliking gaps—especially while raising children—my husband and I crowded activities into our lives the same way I jammed marigolds into the small, soil patch at the top of our driveway.

Some academic years, I added too many subjects. I assured my husband I would find a way to make everything fit. I never did.

I wish I had known how much space was realistically needed for my flowers and my family and myself.

I enjoyed a variety of little blooms, but when I desired deep roots and tall flowers, I should have given more space—more than I imagined.

How many inches do you need this academic year?

Decisions, Homeschooling

Considering Quitting? Relationships Rule

Along the way, I learned that quitting homeschooling was one of the hardest and most emotional decisions families made. Leaving a loved, traditional school in order to homeschool was also hard.

My children’s relationships with God and our family were primary, not educational choices. Our family chose homeschooling because we believed it was our best fit. However, too many times, this choice hindered my husband and me from being the dad and mom our children needed. I watched other families experience the same.

What my sons were taught didn’t matter if they weren’t listening or were too were wounded to listen.

I witnessed marriages struggling because of educational choices. I watched families hesitate to leave extracurricular activities when they needed more space in their lives. And less structure. And more family time, which could never be regained once lost.

In making decisions to quit a course—and perhaps start a new one—I wish I had known how hard it is to repair broken relationships or crushed spirits that resulted from continuing activities beyond an optimal point.

What are your criteria for quitting activities?

Decisions

A Skilled Quitter

One son excels at knowing when to hold and when to fold. He described a high-altitude hike and said, “I decided it wasn’t my day to die. The terrain was becoming treacherous, and I was running out of air.” He told his companions he was quitting. He would wait for them at that spot for the hike back. He later learned that the trail required technical climbing skills and special equipment, both of which he did not have. The leaders had not realized the hike’s difficulty.

Later, my friends were talking about quitting and I said, “My son is a good quitter.” They laughed until I explained that I meant he was skilled at knowing when to stop.

Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean failing or losing or weakness. It can mean recognizing what isn’t working and having the courage to set a new, better goal.

During his hike, my son understood he wasn’t acclimated to the altitude or skilled for the terrain and changed course for the better. He substituted staying alive for reaching a mountain peak.

Along the way, I learned that I and my friends usually didn’t quit at the optimal time.

Do you need a new, better goal?

Decisions, Money

Love It Or Send It Back

No matter the school choice, summer is a big buying season for the coming academic year. Based on reviews, I occasionally bought curriculum unseen. When it arrived, I sometimes had doubts after looking at the teacher’s guide or skimming the text.

However, I would talk myself into liking it because I thought I should. Others claimed it was their favorite. Or I had spent much time deciding. Or I had spent a lot of money. Or it was a bargain. Or several of the above.

Along the way, I learned to trust my misgivings. No matter how much I hoped that a doubtful curriculum would work, it never did.

If I didn’t like a choice from the beginning, I never would.

I should send it back and pay the postage. (See Free Shipping, No Thanks Here)

The same principle applied to store purchases, especially clothing. If I didn’t love it in the dressing room, I should leave it. Research shows an item is worth the most at the moment of purchase.  Afterwards, the value diminishes. I learned liking wasn’t enough to pull out my wallet.

What do you need to return?