Last Friday my youngest brother, Matthew, graduated from high school. It was such an honor to attend his commencement exercises along with my parents, seven of my siblings, and all four of Matt’s nieces and nephews.
The day not only marked a momentous occasion for Matthew; it was also a significant day for my mother. It marked the end of an era in her life: she watched her eighth and final student graduate from her homeschool, twenty six years after she began homeschooling her first student in 1986 (a.k.a. yours truly).
Now that I have children of my own, I feel like I’ve caught a glimmer, faint though it may be, of the immense love, sacrifice, and dedication my mom poured into our educations for the past almost three decades. Regardless of a person’s feelings about homeschooling, positive or negative, I don’t think there’s a person alive who could objectively look at what my mom has accomplished in the past 26 years and not know that it came from a heart overflowing with love for her children and a desire to give us the very best education she possibly could.
Every year at the homeschool commencement, a page is given to the parents of each student in the senior class for them to write a public letter to their graduate. Often my dad writes the letter to our graduating senior. This year, Mom wrote the letter. This is what it said:
Tonight we celebrate different milestones, you and I – for when you walk across the stage to receive your diploma, then I (Mom) will be officially out of a job. When we started homeschooling (before you were born), we had three little girls and thought we’d try it for a year or two just to see if I could actually do it! And here we are, five kids later and almost 30 years into the bargain. And what an adventure it has been!
Matt, you have made us proud and happy parents. You’ve worked hard, been a good listener and a great compaion. It has been such a joy to see you grow from a fort-building, camo-wearing, gun-toting little boy to a fine young man, with a deep and lively faith, ready to plan and prepare for a promising future. We pray God will show you the plans He has for you and that you will follow Him wherever He leads. Be a good steward of the many gifts He has given you; remember that He gives you these gifts so that you may use them for service to Christ and others in His name. Then, true happiness will be yours.
Finally, abide in Christ, so that through Word and Sacrament you may be filled with the grace of God and equipped to keep His commands and walk in His ways. And may the peace of Christ dwell in you always.
Now, after watching seven siblings graduate before you, you must be thinking “Fianlly! My turn!” So, go ahead, youngest of mine, walk across that stage…you earned it! Congratulations! And well done!
Love, Mom and Dad”
Beautiful, isn’t it? Oh to be so faithful and so selfless that I could write these words to a son one day…
In keeping with my “Friday Favorites” blog series, and with a heart of thankfulness for my mother, today I’d like to share my:
Five Favorite Things I Loved About My Homeschool Experience:
1. Tons of time to read. I love books, and I love how much free time I had to read a wide variety of subjects outside of school hours.
2. Freedom to pursue my own interests. Both inside and outside the classroom.
3. Ability to study at my own pace. My education was never dictated by a group of my peers; it was individually tailored to my needs and my level. I never felt “held back” or “rushed ahead” in my education.
4. Love for truth taught and instilled. I was encouraged to explore thoughts, ideas, ideologies and worldviews in an environment that honored Christian beliefs and ideals, but also championed discovering truth for myself. Heck, I feel really lucky that I was allowed to believe truth actually exists! When I got to college my freshman prof adamantly told her class that “absolute truth does not exist” and docked points on our exams if we disagreed with her (how ’bout that for irony!).
5. Flexibility in my own schedule. I loved the flexibility of homeschooling – particularly in how it allowed me to manage my own time. In high school I traveled quite extensively with my dad, either taking school with me or piling on extra studying before or after (sometimes both!) the trip. Most memorable trip was when Dad took me to Sydney Australia with him for almost two weeks. Best reason to homeschool high school EVER! I was also able to pursue an exciting gig in radio that started when I was 16. I produced a morning live talk show for three years as a teenager. That wouldn’t have been possible apart from my homeschooling flexibility. Little did I know at the time that those hours in the radio studio during high school would shape my career and ministry pursuits in my 20s.
Mom, there are no words to thank you for the gift you’ve given us kids over the past 26 years. But thank you just the same.
Oh and P.S: I hope you stay up to date in the latest homeschool trends and curriculum, because I’m dropping Mark and Luke off at your house everyday starting in, let’s see, 3 years and 2.5 months, approximately.
(Matthew with our nephew, Benjamin Richardson)