Monday, August 14, 2006

On Diets and Homeschooling

(This post is dedicated to Betsy and Spring, and others like them who have decided to take the plunge and pull their children out of public school and homeschool for the first time this year. )

A few months ago, my husband began a new diet regime. He has never been heavy but the extra few pounds gained over the last few years were starting to add up. He realized if he didn't make a change now, he would be literally living with the consequences for a long time. Thankfully, he made it through the first few weeks of "torture" as he gave up many foods he loved. Changing old eating habits wasn't easy (he loves ice cream), but the fruit of his efforts are finally starting to show. He's a slimmer, trimmer 190 lbs. Much better for his six foot frame. It was tempting to give up on the diet when the results were not as immediate as he would have liked, but the long term goal keeps him motivated to continue - even on the weeks when he had a setback and gained back a pound or two.

There are many families who have pulled their children out of the public schools and have begun homeschooling this year. Like my husband, they realized that if they didn't make a change now, they would be living with the consequences for a long time. I think the adjustments they are going through are, in many ways, similar to starting a new diet. Giving up old habits is not easy. It can be even harder on children. Unfortunately, the postivies changes you are making will not always be welcomed with squeals of delight.

Instead, your instructions are often met with blank stares and groanings of "I don't wanna do it.". There is a disconnect between your hopeful expectations and the reality that hits you in the face day after day. Your vision of joy filled days learning together, can quickly turn into, "How many more years do I have to do this?"

Just like my husband's diet, the results of a drastic change in learning habits are not always immediate and obvious. Learning has been a "chore" for so long, that regaining the joy will take time and patience. Changes are indeed happening, but for the most part, they are internal. The children are being weaned off the "junk food" and a whole new appetite is being created. Who of us likes to give up cotton candy for green beans? But over time we realized that the fresh cut salads are the healthiest and actually taste better than we thought. My husband has lost the inches, his clothes fit better, and has gained a lot more energy. He wouldn't think of going back to the old habits now.

Slow and steady, steady and slow that's the way homeschooling often goes. Don't judge yourself or your children by the first few weeks, or even months. We've all had bad days. Keep in mind what your family will become as you maintain a balanced diet of healthy learning.

"All your children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of your children. ~ Isaiah 54:13

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