Last year, John and Jennifer Robinson attended the Lifeschooling Conference as brand new homeschoolers, about to embark on this wonderful adventure! I remember their excitement well, so I was so encouraged and happy when they came to me recently and said, “We just have to share our story of what God has done in our family through lifeschooling! How can we get this message out to other families?” Here is their story in their own words:
God has richly blessed us since we relocated from Nashville, TN to Charlotte, NC six years ago. We feel that our Christ-led path to home schooling could provide encouragement to families just getting started or who are on the fence about taking the leap into home schooling. We accepted the call to home school a year ago and I (Jennifer) left my corporate job in May 2016 when our children were finishing up 1st and 3rd grades in a private Christian school. We have personally seen how God equips us to perform the work He calls us to do.
We are coming to the end of our first year where we have chosen a Life schooling style rather than a rigid curriculum and schedule. God has richly blessed our first year and worked out so many details for us along the way, such as providing the perfect book or field trip opportunity to suit our need at the right moment. We follow a curriculum but we haven’t allowed that curriculum to dictate our schedule. By being flexible and staying Christ-centered, we have been able to take advantage of the God-moments when they show up and there have been many of them! We use these moments as valuable life lessons, not just for our children but we as parents have learned so much from the experience too.
We use living books and recommended book lists from Sonlight and My Father’s World. We have incorporated a focus on learning world geography so that our children could visualize where the stories and history were taking place. We sponsor two children through missions and they have an understanding of the countries where these children live and what life is like in these countries (Ethiopia and Ecuador). They recognize by contrast how blessed we are here in America. We volunteer at a nursing home monthly and they are developing a comfort level working with the elderly. We take 2-3 field trips per month and have traveled to so many new places this year. We experienced historic Philadelphia, Washington DC, the Ozarks, St. Louis, the creation museum and Ark Encounter in KY. We’ve attended plays, a ballet, museums, aquariums, NASCAR events, musical performances and historic sites. The children learned how to snow ski, ice skate, ride horses and sculpt art this year.
Life also threw us some curve balls that derailed our plans from time to time, but that was okay! They turned into some valuable lessons. We had to cancel a trip to FL due to illness. Mom (Jennifer) had the flu and Dad (John) had to step in for a few days. The children also had to pitch in extra help, and we all learned the importance of our individual contributions to the family. Sometimes a book or a lesson wouldn’t connect with us, so we would toss it aside and God would provide a better solution. We would get behind schedule because of life circumstances or because we wanted to spend extra time on a particular subject. And that’s okay! We didn’t let it get us upset. God’s schedule and plans always turn out better anyway! We witnessed other people experience home loss due to fire and flood. We were able to talk about those losses and teach important lessons like: Stuff can be replaced but people can’t be replaced. We are thankful it was just ‘stuff’ that was lost. We helped collect items for the NC flood victims, Gatlinburg TN fire victims, and we toured the Samaritan’s Purse shoe box distribution center.
By contrast, I know of other home schooling families who are so tied to their curriculum and schedule that they don’t have room in their day to stop and help when God presents a need. I didn’t want to over commit our calendar to co-ops, lessons, and extra-curricular activities to the point that we have no room for God. Our children have developed closer family connection and stronger communication skills with the adults they encounter. They aren’t intimidated to ask the librarian for help finding a book, or speak to the receptionist at a doctor’s office. My daughter wanted to donate her entire piggy bank to help adopt a group of siblings she heard was looking for a home. She said “Don’t you want them to have a mom and dad? Don’t you want them to be home schooled and love Jesus?” I have seen them blossom into compassionate, mature students who love learning, love reading, love helping others, and love trying new things. They have grown in confidence, compassion and most importantly, as Christians.