First Guest Post ~
I met Rifke many years ago, when she was very young and her family arrived to stay with us for a week. Six children and a crate of chickens emerged from their parent’s combi and so our family friendship began.
We renewed and deepened our friendship when we moved to the Western Cape to farm in the Klein Karoo just over 5 years ago. This wonderful family lives an hour and a half from us and we are blessed to visit them.
We are like-valued in so many ways; Christians with strong family values, farmers (they are fully self-sufficient whereas we tend to be more commercial), and homeschoolers. In many ways they confirmed and inspired our choices. A true gift from the Lord.
Our children are best, best friends with their children. We have watched them play, enjoy extended holidays together, smile as they mature and start businesses together, and as time has flown past, attended their weddings.
So, may I introduce Rifke, the eldest daughter of 7 children. A beautiful and talented young married lady, who has always had a passion for writing, who cooks and bakes the most exquisite cakes, is musical and sings like a lark, and has a deep and sincere desire to please the Lord.
She approached me to write guest post about homeschooling from a homeschool-graduate perspective, and we soon both realized that she has lots to share, so we will run a series. I know you’ll be blessed to meet her and hear her heart. You can read more from her on her blog ~Through the Window.
“I guess that anyone meeting me for the first time would pick up something a little odd about me. Not a bad kind of odd, I hope. They would probably just notice that I dress differently – “creatively”, as I like to call it – and use some old-fashioned words.
A little way through our conversation they may discover that I was homeschooled, and that would reveal a lot to them. After that, they may or may not be surprised to learn that where I come from, we have solar electricity and no hot water. No reliably hot water, at least. We also grow vegetables and meat to supply ourselves, grind wheat from great big sacks bought at co-op stores to make our bread, and grow “mielies”, or corn, to grind and make into porridge for our breakfast.
My parents were among the first couples to start homeschooling in South Africa. I never went to school, except for two days a week in kindergarten. My older brother started with homeschooling after completing a year of pre-school, and none of my five younger siblings have ever set foot in a school (except for maybe once or twice in their lives, when they accompanied an adult on an errand).
When I was eight years old, my family left the city of Cape Town, where I was born, and re-settled in the remote valley of the Langkloof. There God provided my parents with a small holding, which they live on today.
I began studying for my schooling finals, my matric, when I was sixteen, and wrote it (alongside my older brother) when I was seventeen. These were the first exams we had ever written. We studied for them through a long-distance college, whose service wasn’t great, and wrote in an echoing, paint-chipped hall in a government school. To our delight, we both passed with exemption.
A year and a half later I joined a small media studio which had been set up recently by a friend, and there I started a friendship with a handsome young man named Scott. We became engaged, and then married, in record time.
Whenever I come across mothers who are homeschooling, but were educated themselves in “normal” schools, I stand in their shoes without actually having ever been there, and, I guess, my heart goes out to them. It’s a generalisation, but homeschooling mothers do not appear to understand how brave they are. Their failures seem to hover – lucid and self-accusatory – before them daily. They seem to try so hard, without necessarily recognizing, and therefore enjoying, the full reward of their effort.
Three of my mother’s children are now finished with school. We are all under twenty-four, so we haven’t made what some would call a “success of our lives” yet. But what, really, is “a life”? What is your child’s life to you? Is it something that is still going to happen, or is it already happening? Is it a series of actions they will make, a series of successes or failures… or is it how they experience their years, moment by moment?
By choosing to homeschool, you have already shown that you not only put your child’s happiness and well-being above your own comfort, but also that you have the wisdom to perceive that not all is right with the mindsets, and ways of running things, that world presently finds itself in. You should be proud of yourself. It’s hard to swim upstream.
As someone who was homeschooled, I want to thank mothers like you. You have provided me with all my best friends, and my almost-too-good-to-be-true husband. You are giving the world first-class employees and colleagues. You are creating a generation that will set examples through their ability to learn, and change with the times; to be creative, and make things of beauty; to go against the flow. Mostly, you are creating people who will inspire others to be happy, through their own understanding of where the important things in life lie.
In my next guest post I will write a bit about how my parents schooled us, how I experienced the difference between homeschooled kids and those that go to “normal” schools, and what skills and academics have really mattered so far.”
Thank you, Rifke, for your rich and encouraging post! We all look forward to your next post!