Senior Reflections (Wait, WUT)?!

It feels like just yesterday that I graduated from high school, and I can’t believe Judah has graduated. How did that even happen? People say time flies–they are right. Having the big girl graduate seems like a pretty great reason to catch you all up! It’s been a super busy year. We had a baby boy Tovah was born on December 29th, and we have been loving him every second since. I was a little worried about having a baby the same year that our oldest daughter was graduating, but to be honest- it’s been good. Stretching and changing is never easy, but it is good. Judah is growing up and I’m so proud of who she is and where her heart is. She is taking a gap year to intern with Beloved a ministry to high school girls to help them develop a personal relationship with Jesus. After that she will most likely go to college, she has several great schools to pick from. I wanted to reflect on Judah’s homeschooling just for my own notes and also for you guys who are new to homeschooling- we learned a lot along the way. Here is what sticks out:

  1. Homeschooling is not a waste of your time. There is a nagging feeling in the back of our minds, mamas I hear you, that somehow you aren’t doing enough for your kids. It’s a lie. If you are taking your responsibility of raising your child seriously, and by that I mean, teaching them everything from math to how to clean the bathroom-{everything} you do with that child is an opportunity for giving them skills and ways of behaving and those little moments are integral to their education. I’m going to brag for one tiny second: often people comment about how great my kids are and I want to take credit- but really I know that their awesomeness is actually a gift from God and I simply took it to heart to encourage them. What you are doing is important and meaningful.
  2. Prayer Time. One thing I’m proud of is having a family prayer time at breakfast…We love it when dad is home and we can sing some worship songs, but really we just read the daily readings said at mass and go around sharing our intentions. Sometimes we pray a decade of the rosary or we learn a new prayer. Right now we are attempting the long but beautiful Litany of the BVM. It’s full of gorgeous imagery. We have learned the Salve Regina, the Saint Andrew’s Novena, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and others. It’s a tradition that I hope we can stick with forever. We talk about our plan for the day and everyone gets a turn to talk. It’s good.
  3. Don’t overbook your life. This is an area I can grow in. My only regret in looking back over the last 12 years of homeschooling is that I tend to overbook. We live in an area where there are some really great opportunities for homeschoolers. My kids have done co-ops, music lessons, theatre, church groups, sports, and more. I think especially in high school I was like: GO FOR IT! And I let Judah sign up for all the things, and I wish I would have prioritized spending time with my girl over letting her experience all that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful she was able to do so much, but I actually think family time (dinner, game night, traditions) are even more important. So younger moms and note to self- don’t overbook!
  4. Less is MORE- class schedule. In the same vein as ‘don’t overbook’ comes the famous signing up for too many classes. I think it’s more important for kids to have fewer classes and get to really delve into the material and spend their time doing an excellent job on their classwork than having a thousand classes they WANT to take but can’t really be successful in. SO lesson learned. You know your kid- set those boundaries and you will both be happier.
  5. Stick with Something. This is a hard one. Modern psychology tells us to listen to our kids and let them make choices as often as possible. I agree to an extent. It is also really good to have something (an instrument, a sport) that they feel very good at. You want good self-esteem? Great: make them stick with those piano lessons or whatever it is no matter what. Judah stuck with piano and soccer and I think she’s happy she did- she has two things shes really great at. She may not play professionally, but she could coach or be a part of the soccer world in another way, it’s a bond she’ll always have with her dad, and that’s pretty sweet. I won’t even get started on the music. They say singing is praying twice= they’re right.
  6. Read the good stuff. Believe it or not, Judah didn’t always love to read. One of the main reasons I chose to homeschool in the first place was because the school she went to for kindergarten was adamant that she knew how to read- right then- in kindergarten! I thought that was crazy. I mean we were doing all the right things, sight words, phonetic spelling, and yet Judah happens to be a kinetic learner and needed more time to run and jump and climb the climbing wall and sitting in a chair and reading wasn’t her jam. At six. But by the time she was eight she was reading the WHOLE Harry Potter series in a couple months. It was wild. SO, I would recommend not freaking out if you think your kid isn’t doing all the right things, and gently support them in what their interested in, and in time they will build a relationship of trust and love with you and they will learn to read, and all the other things too. Also, intentionally read the books you want them to read, I regret not following my gut at times…for instance, I think we never made it all the way through the Little House series. Makes me tear up a little.
  7. Field Trip Fridays. I am a go out and do stuff mom, not a stay at home mom, and I think this saved my sanity many a time (it continues to)! Some eight or ten years ago we started Feild Trip Fridays and even though we haven’t really kept up with them as often and they sometimes happen on days other than Friday, I love taking my children to museums, pet stores, the library, nature walks, parks, friends houses, the beach, the grocery store, thrift stores, you name it. Learning happens wherever you go, and having the attitude- the world is our classroom- has been an inspiring way to live. We have never ever finished our curriculum in a school year, we always end up going through the summer- and I think that’s a good thing.  Nobody is bored and the children have an opportunity to practice being well-mannered humans in all types of situations.
  8. TV Screens and Phones. Generally, we have been pretty good about not watching too much television- but there are seasons. I take away phones from my older children before I go to bed, and I’m changing my feelings about smartphones. My mother in law, Rebecca recently turned in her smartphone for a flip phone- and I thought- what a fantastic idea. So that’s where I’m heading. I got my oldest daughters phones when they started babysitting/driving- seemed like a necessity- but now I wish I would have had them stick with a flip phone because having the whole entire internet in your pocket is very distracting. Not just for children, but for all of us. I really don’t need to be on my phone as much as I am, but with Facebook and Instagram, I mean… the hours just pass. I feel like it’s a bad example of how to spend your time when I could be painting, knitting, collaging, learning to play the ukelele!!!
  9. Treasure Right NOW. I know I sound like a broken record, but this is the only time in life I will have a 26,18,16,14,11,9,7,4, and six- month old! These times pass so quickly! If you feel frustrated today because you didn’t get sleep last night, the baby is teething or whatever it is: don’t worry- you’ll blink and they will be giving the most incredible SPEECH (click on the word “speech” to hear it) to their graduating class! It really does fly by. Gods grace gets us through the sleepless nights and the difficult moments, but the blessing of children is in the now. These are people God gifted us to be with now so that we could grow and learn from them. They have taught me to be a better version of myself by sandpapering me and holding up mirrors and challenging me daily. I am so blessed by my children, by homeschooling, by getting to be the mama.
  10. SO That’s all I’ve got. Pray for me for perseverance and courage to continue the race, to never lose heart, and to put Jesus first every day.jgt grad

4 Comments on “Senior Reflections (Wait, WUT)?!

  1. amen. you rock! and your girl is amazing! as all the others are too!!! Go team thomason in growing wonderful people to change the world for the better!!! ❤

  2. God bless you and your wonderful family! Thanks for all the homeschooling advice! And congratulations on the new baby!

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