Letter 28 – Compassion

Happy 2020!  Welcome to this new year and this new decade!

Welcome to any new readers.  I am a veteran homeschool mom with more than 24 years of homeschooling.  I have 2 homeschool graduates and my youngest daughter is completing her final high school year.  I love to encourage other homeschool parents on this amazing adventure which I am currently writing as a series of letters to my younger self.  Here is the next letter to my younger self — Letter 28 ~ Compassion

I believe that compassion is the most wonderful gift you can give yourself and your children!

Compassion can be expressed as acts of kindness, caring, and support that relieve the suffering of others and ourselves.

My dearest younger self,

Do you remember those first years beginning homeschooling your young toddler together with two other moms and their children?  Everything seemed so exciting, an adventure!  But as soon as you started to homeschool all three of your young children on your own, you became uber-intense, focused, earnest and disciplined.  You became a teacher-at-home trying to meet everyone’s expectations and afraid of all the new and unknowns of homeschooling.  You lost your compassion towards yourself and this spilt over towards your young children.  The results were feelings of anxiety, fear, criticism, judgement, pride … an awful mix and mess.

Mom, have compassion for yourself!  You will learn the most important lesson in homeschooling — let your children lead you in their interests, abilities, passions, struggles and strengths.   Eventually, you will realize that you are meant to be your children’s facilitator and not their teacher.  Your homeschooling role is rather as a planner, a tutor, and a helper.  Remember that homeschooling is a journey of learning and discovery of yourself, of your interests, passions, strengths and struggles too.  Be kind to yourself in this journey.

Be compassionate towards your children when they struggle.  Their resistance and refusal and their tears and tantrums will cause you to have serious self-doubts and fears.   You may even consider giving up. 

Learn to use the word “YET” and encourage yourself and your children to say “I don’t know how to …. yet …”  and give yourselves the time and space and grace to learn and overcome.  

Allow your children to be different and unique.  They are to become themselves and not a clone of yourself.  They may shock or embarrass you and you may wish they were different, but you are the perfect parent for this incredible person with all their flaws, faults, failings, fears and fabulous uniqueness. When you find yourself in this situation, ask the Lord to show you your child through His eyes.  He will reveal the amazing person that they are!  Learn to love this wonderful individual with compassion, not fear.

Learn to never compare!  Comparing your child or yourself with anyone will always be negative because you will either become proud or feel depressed.  You will always find someone better or worse than you or your child, so this cannot be a measure or bring any security.  Be brave to accept who and what you and your children are and focus on their strengths rather than weaknesses.  This is compassion.

Most parents that are unable to accept the ugly or unattractive qualities in themselves will struggle to be loving and gracious to a child who displays similar traitsMom, have compassion for yourself so that you can love and accept your children without judgement.  When something in your character no longer serves you and your family, it is time to work on it and find another way.  Be kind to yourself as you release these issues and work towards becoming a more whole and healed person.  This will take a lifetime, so be compassionate. 

Homeschooling is simply the tool the Lord is using to bring these things to light.  Trust Him to help you work through your faults and failings.  Only then can you help your child.  Your new living way offers a new way for your children.  Invest in this personal growth as it equips you as a parent to grow your children.  This is where having an older woman or mentor can really help. 

During those days when you feel like giving up or giving in, you will cry out to the Lord for grace and wisdom and He will come through for you and your children time and time again. 

The Lord is your comfort and strength.  He will show you another way, a new beginning, a fresh hope.  He is the God of lovingkindness and compassion.  And with the same comfort that you receive from Him, you will be able to share with others.

With compassionate and tender love, Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Would you share yours in the comments below?

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

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Homeschool Beginnings Part IV

This post concludes the series of Homeschool Beginnings. (You can catch up any of the missed posts here – Part I, Part II and Part III.)

I would say that I instinctively began homeschooling when I joined with two moms from our church group to meet once a week for a play date.  We met just to let our children play together, but we were all teachers (one mom was a high school Zulu and Maths teacher, the other mom was a music and choir teacher, and I was an English, Physical Education, and  Art teacher), and so things began to take shape.   Little did we even realize that we would start homeschooling!  

It began so gradually that we didn’t even think of “schooling” but rather playing while focusing on a theme and some fun learning activities.   We creatively brainstormed ideas while our kiddies played. We decided to work through the alphabet, and our play date included a Bible story, a song, a craft and a physical activity with the letter of the alphabet.

So we started with “A” is for Angels … and Apples … and Adam and Eve … We made paper plate angels, read about Jacob’s angels on a stairway to heaven and arranged angels from biggest to smallest … We climbed the jungle gym ladders, hopped and jumped on a ladder lying on the ground.  We ate apples, made apple pie, cooked stewed apples, etc. We sang angel songs and learned the word for apple in Afrikaans, Zulu, Hebrew, etc.   (You get the idea?)

Our kiddies wanted to do the same story and song every . single . week . and so we realized that repetition is natural and necessary.  We simply flowed with our children’s natural delight and interest and only added a new concept or skill to keep things growing and moving along once the previous learning moment had passed.  In a whole year, we only got to “G”!

We also went on outings and picnics, created plays, held parties, and enjoyed family get-togethers.  These early years of homeschooling continued as our families grew and until the oldest children were ready for Grade 1.

These were precious years and our friendships were deep and lasting.

And so, that is my story of how I journeyed into homeschooling.  Although I never imagined I would homeschool my kids, it was the Lord’s design and plan for our family all along.

How did your journey into homeschooling begin?  Please share your story with us in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part III

Continuing my personal story of my unlikely journey into homeschooling.

(If you’ve missed the first two posts, you can pop over to read about our baby’s serious illness just days after her birth – Part I and the sad prognosis –Part II.)

We were referred to a Baby Therapy Centre which housed all the therapists and treatments required to treat and help babies with brain injuries, and so began three years of therapy sessions, remedial splints, and ongoing consultations and reports.

Early on we recognized weakness and spasm on our baby’s right side. The doctors and specialists referred to her diagnosis as “Right Hemi” or right-side hemiplegia, but it was only after one year before I heard them use the term “CP” and was dismayed to hear she actually had Cerebral Palsy. I don’t know why, but the label seemed so harsh, so cruel. I think we all have fear and prejudice towards the “different”. I couldn’t imagine how my baby would grow up and become independent with her disability.

Let me say that the only label or report I really needed was the Lord’s.  Every medical report and doctor’s consultation filled me with dread and fear and pushed me into anxiety and hyper-vigilance.  Instead, the Lord spoke to me in His gentle love and care, and He filled my heart with hope and peace.  He helped me focus on “one thing” at a time.  He encouraged me to live in the “now” moments with my child and not worry about the future.  I wish I could say that this was my permanent state of heart, but it was the only way I could cope as we went through many valleys, peaks, and plateaus.

Using the new orthopedic thumb splint

By now I realized that I followed an “Attached Parenting” style.  I attributed this mainly due to my breastfeeding years and the amazing mentoring and excellent parenting books I read in the La Leche League library.  I wore my baby in a sling and chose to nurture and respond to her every need with care and love.  

After three years, the Baby Therapy Center referred us to private occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and speech therapists, as our child was no longer considered a baby.  We continued regular therapy over the following nine years.

Our daughter was a bright, chatty, young toddler. She was beautiful, vivacious, intelligent, creative, fun, strong-willed, sensitive, loyal and spiritual. I loved my days with her!

My child continued to meet her milestones and, praise the Lord, showed no signs of learning or speech delays.  We attended a toddler’s play group and we enjoyed monthly play dates with our antenatal moms’ group.  Homeschooling was a very vague option, but I felt that my child would cope in mainstream schooling, so I didn’t look into that aspect at all.  Little did I know how gently the Lord would lead me into that role.

To be continued in Part IV.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part II

Continuing my story of my unlikely journey into homeschooling from Part I …

Following our newborn baby’s diagnosis of meningitis and a brain bleed, we went into deep shock. It was the only time I saw my husband actually sob.

I spent eleven days in the hospital with my baby, now in the children’s ward, where there were five other meningitis cases, caring for my tiny, sick, newborn baby and trying desperately to learn to breastfeed.

Hospital life is interrupted, clinical, medical and full of fear.  Not the nurturing, calm and private bonding post birth experience I had dreamed for and that my hormones absolutely craved!  I almost gave up breastfeeding because my drugged and sick baby couldn’t latch properly.  I had cracked nipples and a bad case of milk fever, but a La Leche League consultant came and talked me through all my difficulties and supported my decision to keep trying to feed my baby despite all the obstacles. I am so grateful for her help as we went on to breastfeed for two years.

We were referred to pediatric specialists who told us of all the possible damage the brain bleed and meningitis could cause. The news was dreadful. The pediatric neuro-specialist referred to her diagnosis as right-side hemiplegia or right-side paralysis.   There were fears of possible learning and speech problems.  I was gutted.

My hubby and I immediately found ourselves in separate camps trying to cope with this news; he was quiet, withdrawn and in denial, and I began a frantic search for options, help, therapy, support, and interventions.  I think that I was determined to help my child and nothing was going to be too difficult.  I resigned from my teaching position and so I began my new role of stay-at-home-mom-on-a-mission!

To be continued in Part III.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part 1

Many of my readers have followed me for several years, but don’t know how I started homeschooling, and some of you are fairly new to Practical Pages, and so I thought I would share my personal testimony of how I stumbled into homeschooling and the amazing journey that it took us on.  It’s a long story, but I will break it up into bite-sized pieces, so please come back each week for the next post in the series.

Homeschooling was not even on my radar.  Before I had my own children, I hardly knew anyone who homeschooled, and I probably thought those who did were strange.  I was devoted school teacher and glibly thought I would continue teaching again after taking a year’s maternity and paid leave, But the Lord had other plans.

My first daughter’s birth was a precipitous, premature, hospital delivery. She was tiny, needed to go under lights and so we stayed in the hospital for five days.  After just four days at home, she developed a very high fever and screamed all night. Early the next morning we were at a pediatric hospital.  The traumatic diagnosis following a spinal tap and brain scans was that our precious baby had meningitis and had a brain bleed.

Of course, I immediately resigned from my teacher’s position, right in those first few weeks following her illness, when I realized that I had a very important job helping my child.  And so began a very different journey of motherhood and parenting, and one that would lead me, very naturally, as it seems to me now, into homeschooling.

To be continued in Part II.

Blessings, Nadene

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