Stirring Up The Nest
By Diane Kummer
Have you ever watched a mother bird stir up her nest at the end of the season when it is time for the baby birds to fly away? Although both of my children have finished high school at home—my daughter has already graduated from college, and my son is a college sophomore—I can clearly remember the stirring up of our homeschool nest, the time of transition as each child moved through the four years of high school and into college. I recall the ups and downs, the good times and bad times, and with that backward glance comes a sense of wonder at the lessons I continue to learn from those experiences.
The last years of high school were full—baseball and basketball games, drama productions, prospective college visits, heart-to-heart talks, conflicts, SAT preparation, branching out and taking outside classes, and, of course, praying for survival on wild and wonderful rides in the unfamiliar passenger seat during driver’s education.
|CONTINUATION OF LEARNING: The Kummers (Jeremy, Diane, Melinda, and Tom) celebrate Melinda’s May 2005 cume laude graduation from Bucknell University with a BA in English. Jeremy is now a communications major at Salisbury University.
Concerned that my children have a solid academic foundation, I asked others who had gone before me for advice on courses, curriculum, and planning out a high school program. My husband, Tom, shouldered the responsibility of leading our family through these decisions as we encountered many of the same interruptions and disruptions that probably face your family. I attended many homeschool conferences taught by wonderfully gifted homeschool moms and dads who encouraged me to keep homeschooling my teens. Always their main message was, “You can do it with the Lord’s help.” Every year, this key truth kept me going—for at least one more year.
And then, suddenly—my children’s senior years in high school drew to a close.
Each of my children took part in a graduation ceremony organized by our homeschool umbrella program. The graduates were requested to write a brief note to their parents reflecting on their high school years at home, and these notes were included in their graduation keepsake booklets. I held my breath in anticipation of what memories my children would choose to recall, knowing that one of them had not particularly wanted to be homeschooled (and that’s putting it delicately, I might add).
Some of you may need a bit of encouragement today as you are in the midst of homeschooling, so cry along with me as I reread excerpts from my children’s graduation notes:
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for not just teaching me how to read and write, but showing me how to become a man. Thank you for all the memories and unforgettable experiences I received by being homeschooled. Thank you for being my parents. Thank you for not giving up on me when it would have been so easy to do so . . . I can finally see now that you weren’t trying to make my life horrible or bad, but rather you had my future well-being, happiness, and holiness in mind . . . Now that I am graduating and leaving home, I can truly see the faithfulness of God through you.
I was tempted to say how random the chance was that our family would homeschool, but no—it was God’s sovereign plan and it has been one of the sharpest tools He has used to conform us to the likeness of His Son. Granted, there were many schooldays that I did not appreciate the skillfulness of God’s hand using this tool, but looking back now I can see His expertise. I am so grateful for the incredible amount of time that we were able to spend together—the hugs, the kisses, the tears, and the colds that we all shared are irreplaceable . . .
I cannot repay you for the amount of time, energy, and love that you have invested in me. God is a great stockbroker though, and the returns on your investment are guaranteed to be high because of your careful allocation of resources distributed over the long run. (See, Daddy! I did learn something in our crash course on investing!) I praise God for the amazing goodness He has shown us in the season of my school years, and I wait with great anticipation for what He has for us in the next season.
And so it goes, one season following another. Like high school, my children’s early college years were times of continuing to trust the Lord for new choices they had to make (“Are you sure you can sort out which college classes to register for without me?”), new friendships they would form (“Honey, did you just say your roommate doesn’t believe in showering or using deodorant?”), and new responsibilities they would shoulder (“I'm so sorry, Jeremy, but those Bonus Buck cafeteria dollars were supposed to last you all semester. What do you mean you've already used them all up in the first two weeks of classes?”).
I’ve had many new opportunities to spend the night in prayer (I had previously thought these nights of prayer would be over once my children graduated from our homeschool), asking the Lord to guide my children’s paths as they sorted through dilemmas like: “Should I try out for the college play even though the content of the play ridicules my beliefs?” “Do I write that paper just to get an easy A—knowing what my professor wants to read—or do I put forth the effort to refute his theories?” “I know I should go to church and I’m working on it, but you don’t understand how busy I am.” Yes, the Lord still makes sure that there are many opportunities for me to stay dependent on Him, and to know that my children’s lives are way too big of a burden for me, but not for Him.
My children’s college experiences have just been a continuation of the learning that began way back in the school that met in our home. Moms and dads, never underestimate the fruit that will be harvested from the time that you are investing in your children, today and in the coming weeks. Someday you will marvel at the work of grace behind the scenes. Yes, do all you can to prepare your children academically for their high school years and beyond, but rest in the peace of knowing that the Lord can be trusted with your investment. Remember, He’s a great stockbroker!
By Becky Cooke
Waking up one morning, I suddenly realized that this was my son’s senior year—and his last year in my homeschool—before he would embark on the new adventure of college. Thoughts whirled in my head and emotions welled up in my heart as I pondered my questions: Would our family unit change when my son left home? How would we—his dad, mom, and siblings—adjust to his being away? Would we be as close to each other? Would he be capable of college work? Would he remember all we taught him about faith and life?
Thankfully, you don’t have to face this time of transition all by yourselves—the Lord lays out the path and will provide for all your needs, even as He did for my family. Based on my experience, here’s a bit of what you can expect, but remember that there will always be surprises!
|CELEBRATING A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION: The Cookes (Ryan, Jim, Emily, Becky, and Alex) gather for Emily’s May 2006 graduation from the University of Virginia with a BS in nursing.
Sometimes, just filling out college applications (designed for students attending brick-and-mortar schools), requires creativity. For example, what should you put down as the name of your school? For two of my children, we used the name “Cooke Academy,” but my other child didn’t think that sounded “sophisticated” enough so he chose “Academy for Higher Learning.” If you use a satellite school or correspondence program, you can simply use the name of the program.
Then there’s that section on many applications entitled “Guidance Counselor.” Guess what, Mom and Dad—you are the guidance counselors! Or, if you belong to an umbrella school, you can check to see whether the school has a designated person to complete the section for you.
Next is class rank. Unless you have twins or triplets, your child will be number one! However, many high schools are doing away with class rank, so it’s not incorrect to put n/a (“not applicable”) in that blank. Some scholarships still use class rank in evaluating applications, so it’s a good idea to check with your child’s prospective colleges on how they prefer you to answer this question.
When the applications are finally submitted and acceptances received, you can turn your attention to preparing in earnest for your child to move into a dorm room. How in the world is your child going to get all that stuff crammed into just one side of the room—refrigerator, microwave, stereo system, TV, computer? He thinks those are the essentials, while you think that clothes, schoolbooks, personal items, laundry supplies, and cleaning equipment are the necessities! If your daughter had her own room at home, sharing one in college will provide an opportunity for her to demonstrate grace and friendship and to receive the same. A roommate from another culture can make dorm life a mini-education in itself. For my children, sharing a room included learning about the customs of Latvia, Pakistan, and Bahrain!
Soon the actual moving day arrives, and the car is packed to the hilt. Upon arriving at the campus, you join the hundreds of other families jockeying for parking places close enough to the dorm so they don’t have to lug all their stuff too far.
Thankfully, the college staff has many meetings and activities scheduled to keep you and your child busy for the day, so emotions are held at bay. But the time finally comes when you must say good-bye, giving that final hug surreptitiously so as not to embarrass your child, and holding back the tears as you wave goodbye one last time. You'll probably think (just like I did!), “It’s never going to be the same again.” And this is true. But would you have it any other way? You have successfully launched your child on the road to independence and adulthood. (Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t wait anxiously by the phone for a call or want to make a call, but don't call 20 times a day.)
These years of college will speed by (more quickly than the high school years did) as you follow your child’s progress, welcome him home during school breaks, and meet and entertain your child’s new friends and possibly even future spouse. Before you know it, you will be proudly applauding your child on graduation day.
Congratulations, Mom and Dad! Enjoy this adventure, and rejoice in God’s provisions which make it possible.
|About the authors
While homeschooling through high school, Diane Kummer and her husband Tom used a variety of teaching options, including co-ops, community college and online courses, and part-time private school attendance. Both children then attended college. Diane coordinates homeschool events at her church and teaches high school math to homeschoolers. She has a heart to inspire and encourage homeschool moms.
Becky Cooke and her husband Jim homeschooled their children through high school, augmenting their education with community college courses and group classes. All three children went on to attend college. Now that she’s “retired” from homeschooling, Becky loves to use these experiences in ministering to homeschooling parents.