Persevering toward results

Our children have never attended school. Our approach to education has mostly been informal. We believe in building solid language skills (reading, writing and speaking), proficiency in math to a minimum of Grade 10/O level standard and helping them learn how to learn. These skills combined with a strong (Biblical) work ethic and respect for authority are what we consider most important.

A change in pace

This year Amie embarked on formal study for the first time in her life, at the age of 16. She needs to complete 5 subjects over 2-3 years (by age 18) in order to qualify for a senior certificate which she will require to attend university (which she has decided she wants to do). She wants to only take 2 years to do this so that she can attend a year of Bible College before starting her degree. She is required to take English and another language (she chose Afrikaans) and has further taken history, maths and music. She desires to do an arts degree so a science isn’t necessary.

This is the first time she has needed to submit assignments to an outside authority and follow a structured curriculum. Besides maths and music, she has not formally studied the other subjects before (by means of a structured curriculum). There is very little input from me – she follows the curriculum, “attends” the weekly online tutoring sessions and submits her assignments under her own steam. She manages her own time with only seldom check-ins from me to find out what she is doing and, if it isn’t school work, to take a quick check that she is, in fact, on schedule.

Has it worked?

To date, her assignments have been returned with only positive feedback and good marks. Today her English tutor paid glowing compliments about her standard of work, diligence and ability. She even asked if Amie was considering tertiary study in English. Amie didn’t have the heart to reply that she really has little passion for the subject and is only taking it because she is required to!

We went into this year knowing it would be a test of what we have believed regarding education and would evaluate our approach in harsh, real terms. We have spent the past 15 years doing what we believed would equip our daughter with a good education. This year was the first step in setting her free to stretch her wings (and stretch our faith!) and, so far, we are glad with what we are seeing.

Of course, exams loom at the end of the year, and more next year and then ultimately she will face an acceptance to or be declined university entrance. We know there is still a long way to go.

But today when we were talking about her English tutors comments she said to me: “I bet it is because of all of those letters you made me write mom. Over and over until they were perfect; only then could I send them. And every email you checked. It’s also because I read so much.”

We fought over those letters she mentioned! And we fought about the books she chose that were thin on literary value. And we fought about the classics I encouraged her to try (which she now scours 2nd hand bookshops for). And we fought whenever she read something but couldn’t answer my probing questions on character, plot, lessons learnt from the story.

But today she credited all that with her ability to do well. She recognizes now why I pushed so hard. Not just in English either. The tears over the hours of music practice are another example. In fact, examples abound in almost every area of her life. I push her hard to be the best person she could possibly be. That’s my job.

Don’t Give Up!

Moms, don’t give up. Pressing our children in the right direction will reap results if we persevere. There are times I wonder if I’m making any real progress. Often times I worry that the days are passing by quickly, turning into weeks, months and years and I wonder if I’m doing enough.

Take heart, fellow mother. Keep up the hard work. Keep guiding your children, instilling the qualities you know to be right and true and necessary, gently but with determination. God honours and blesses our efforts. And in time, so will our children.


Amie writing while on a recent camping trip in the mountains

Amie writing while on a recent camping trip in the mountains