Someone asked me recently, "How do you simulaneously teach school to all of your children?"
She is a 1st grade teacher with 24 kiddos all learning the same thing at the same time, so she was interested in how I balance teaching the wide variance of ages and needs of the children in our home.
I have a confession to make.
I don't do it "all".
Shocker, I know. :)
You see, when we first felt called to adoption, I knew it would change our family dynamic for awhile. Little did I know then how big the change would be. (At the time, I thought we'd be bringing home one child.)
Each time the Lord said "Go", I asked Him how I could add another child, another precious responsibility and still keep up with everything I was already doing. He oh-so-gently reminded me that school isn't only found in textbooks. It is found anytime we are learning.
His grace is sufficient, His mercies are NEW every morning, and He would never ask me to do something I could not do.
For that reason, our "school" this past year hasn't been only the traditional kind. We focused on the very basics: Bible, Math, Reading/Spelling/Language Arts, and Music (this one is considered a non-negotiable "basic" for our family! :)) We honestly didn't accomplish much History, Science, Health, Art, Field Trips, etc....
Perhaps that makes me a failure in the eyes of some. After all, I took on the responsiblity of my children's education----shouldn't I be doing it all???
As I reflect back on the past year, however, I see with glaring certainty that the year of school we did accomplish was a wonderful success.
Not in grades or beautiful portfolios.....but in life skills.
This year, my biological children learned the beauty of loving the unloveable. Of sacrificing everything for the good of someone else. Of sharing---their toys, their siblings, their Daddy and Mommy's TIME, and their own thoughts, desires and plans.
Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.....
(and) Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Our "neighbors" moved into our home this year.
And they are here to stay.
The process of guiding our adopted daughters to blend into our family and our biological children to fully accept them was and continues to be a teaching process.
You know, like SCHOOL.
It means the world comes to a stop when a little one needs reassurance from Mommy.
It means the textbooks get put away when a teenager needs to cry her heart out about her past.
It means the laundry remains unfolded for a time while I take the time to hug a crying child and explain yet again that Yes, you will always be the "firstborn" from my body or No, I do not love my biological children more than I love you.
It means reading God's Word, singing His praises and teaching His love by modeling self-lessness is more important than multiplication.
It means cutting back on the non-essentials in order to focus on the eternal.
And no, it hasn't always been easy. School never is, is it?
The growth I have experienced in my own life and viewed in the lives of my children is far more precious to me than all the accolades and straight A's in the world.
I have watched a girl who had never so much as held a baby learn how to carry, dress, bathe, correct, play with AND love three of them. I have felt her growing love as she tries so very hard to learn how to function in a FAMILY. I have watched her begin to blossom from a socially awkward, insecure little girl into a responsible young lady.
I have seen my children, over and over again, learn to choose forgiveness and restoration in their relationships with Daddy and Mommy and--even more difficult!---with each other.
Our entire family has dug down deep and learned to communicate on a whole new level.
And I have gained an entirely new view and style of attachment, parenting, and godly discipline. (I hope to share more of this in the future.)
All in all, I think it's been a successful year, our schoolyear of a different sort.