Our “Lessons” on Never Giving Up!
By Audrey Welch Archie
I am excited to introduce our family to yours. I love sharing what keeps us going, and by this, hopefully uplifting other families. Jason and I recently celebrated fourteen years of marriage. We have six children. They are little doorsteps in age; our oldest was almost 8 when our twins were born. Bryson is now 11, Ethan is 8, Dylan is 7, Lydia Grace is 5, and Ava Darling and Ella Beth are 3. Our children are “country-fied” from the tops of their heads to the bottoms of their dirty little feet. They love living in the country!
Some of our interests include raising chickens, rabbits, and cows. Gardening in the summer and keeping enough firewood to heat our home through the winter keeps us all busy. The children learn science, Bible, and a great work ethic from their time tending to our little farm. They are having fun too! Let me tell you, when the mail lady brought our mail order of red worms for our worm bed, it was a pretty exciting day! In the summer the children love to go swimming in the pond. They also love it when Daddy hooks a rope to the four-wheeler and pulls them across the pond in an old wheelbarrow tub. Other times they beat the heat by laying out a huge piece of plastic and pouring bubble solution on it while spraying it with the water hose. We invite the cousins and have a large “slippy slide” that easily accommodates several sliders at once. Cut a watermelon and you have one of those days that ranks up there as “this is the best day ever!” Those are words this Mama loves to hear. In the fall and winter, we fill our evenings with campfires and bowls of homemade soup. The children are also trying to learn to play a variety of instruments and enjoy singing old hymns and bluegrass Gospel music.
With the help of family and friends, we have been building a new house for our family. Instead of taking out a large loan, we have paid for it as we go. It continues to amaze us the way God has blessed all along the way. We still have a long way to go to finish it, but the past four years have been a great experience for our whole family. We have enjoyed making memories while working on our home together.
Now, let’s talk about our study time. We have really had ups and downs since we started this journey. At times I have totally felt at a loss. I know this will not sound like the perfect homeschool mommy, but to be completely honest—good! It is my intent to be as real and transparent as I can, because homeschooling is not always the pretty picture we would like to paint it to be. I want to help someone who is walking in the same shoes that I am. Sometimes it is really hard to walk in shoes that are too big for you!
I guess you could say we are relaxed homeschoolers. While we don’t have a strict schedule, I do have to have some structure or my busy “Martha” type personality (Luke 10:38–42) will keep me from schooling at all. We, as homeschool leaders, need to find what works best for us and then actually make ourselves do it. We have found Math-U-See to be a perfect fit for our family. We take advantage of the online drill and love Mr. Steve’s instruction on the DVD that comes with each level. We are using Pathway Readers and workbooks. We also use some of our favorite games and flashcards that we have collected over the years. TATRAS (Teach America to Read and Spell) has been very beneficial to us. I use all of the knowledge I have learned from this program and incorporate it into our workbook time. I like using workbooks because it lets me mark the pages I want accomplished by the end of each day. While the children are working, I am able to go from child to child and help them where they need it. Right now, we get our science and history from real life experiences and from reading books about the past.
When planning studies, I have to be realistic and try to keep from overloading my cart. When overloaded, my cart tumbles over and I am left broken. So taking things one step at a time helps us to keep slowly moving forward, and then before I know it, I can look back and see the progress we have made.
My goal for this article is to encourage struggling families to not give up. Homeschooling cannot be something you just “try.” It has to be a commitment to the Lord and to your family. For example, our oldest son was having a hard time learning to read. We were facing criticism from people around us and were also watching our child struggle, which made it easy to get discouraged. However, because of our commitment to homeschool our children, quitting was never an option. Instead of giving up, we have learned to hit our knees and cry out to the Lord. He always answers and lifts us up. In the last year we have seen big changes in our son’s life; everything is clicking, and he is reading! If we had thrown in the towel, we would have missed this faith-strengthening opportunity for our lives. Homeschooling has truly blessed our family. We have a bond and love for each other that brings such joy! Seeing our little men and young ladies growing before our eyes makes parenting so fulfilling. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)
Copyright 2010. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, Fall 2010. Used with permission. Visit them at Schoolhouse Store, where shipping is always free!