Uncertainty makes it really hard to buckle down and concentrate and focus. It’s really hard to make plans when everything is in a state of limbo. It’s hard to even think straight when you don’t know what you will eat that day or where you will sleep that night. That’s the condition we found ourselves in about 14 years ago.
We had lost our house after my husband lost his job because of 9/11. We felt like the Lord was telling us to move to Arizona. So we left Ohio with just a few possessions. We had 8 children, including 14 month old twins whom I was still nursing! We only took duffel bags with 5 changes of clothes for each of us. We had a few of their favorite toys. Our 7 passenger van was stuffed to the gills! I had to sit in the back to protect our 4 year old, Morgan, from his brothers and sisters who would have killed him along the journey because he was at that obnoxious stage. I couldn’t see out the windows because of all of the bags stacked up on all sides and all the way up the back windows.
We were on the road for 4 months, looking for some place to call home. We were trying to find the place that God wanted us to settle. So doing any kind of school work was tricky, to say the least.
I had brought some books with us. It was the heaviest bag we brought! The kids did some school work in hotel rooms. But it was hard to concentrate and they didn’t have much time once we got into the room.
They did map work and geography by finding out where we were going next. Our oldest son, Shawn, who was 14 years old, learned how to navigate. He was in the passenger seat. Prior to that, he hadn’t done much with maps. But he had to tell Gary where to drive, so he learned really fast how maps work.
I had bought the kids disposable cameras, so they took pictures and did some scrapbooking. Through that, they did some art and writing and got to use their creativity.
We visited libraries in each place. I was able to check out books in some places even though we weren’t residents. I read aloud to the kids in the van.
We really didn’t have money to do anything extra. So we did some free things. We went to Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs several times! We really liked it there!
We learned about the states and regions and cities we passed through. We stopped at the Welcome Centers for the different states and read about the history and interesting facts about the state. We picked up brochures for attractions in the area.
We prayed together every day just to find out what to do daily. We learned to trust God and saw Him provide. The kids learned to take care of each other.
We worked on character and faith issues and taught the children to be givers even when they didn’t have much themselves.
I tried to keep things as consistent and stable as I could. I tried to use every place and situation as a learning experience. I did my best to identify and point out God’s help and provision every time I saw it.
We weren’t able to use workbooks much because they would have gotten destroyed in the press of all of the little bodies. Honestly, when I think back to it, I don’t know how we squeezed everybody into that van!
But we talked, and we sang. We learned how to give grace even when we were hungry and tired. We endured tight quarters, and learned to forgive quickly and not make a big fuss about accidental offenses.
The kids were very creative in their play since they didn’t have many toys or even common household objects to play with. They mostly had their minds and thoughts to occupy them. This was during the days before portable DVD players and such. At least before we had anything like that. There were no smart phones or anything. We only had one cell phone – my husband’s.
The kids did have paper and a variety of writing instruments.
They talked and made up stories.
Every day was a new adventure. It wasn’t exactly fun, because my husband and I were anxious and uncertain. But we knew that we were obeying God and He was taking care of us. Sometimes it felt like we had been forgotten, but God always came through in the nick of time with enough money for another night at a hotel. Or with some direction about where we were supposed to go next.
I prayed about the education of the children and always felt reassured that God was taking care of that, too.
He calmed my fears and set my mind at ease that the things they were learning were preparing them for their future and their callings. They would need this foundation of faith and trust to carry out His plans for their lives.
In the intervening years, my husband has been contracting, and we have moved to 4 different states. For a while we moved every time he got another contract, but it became impossible for us to do that, because his jobs were far away from where we had just moved to. We settled for 3 years in Kansas City. Then he got a job in Illinois. We all moved there. He worked there for 2 years, then got a job in Pennsylvania. He only worked in Pennsylvania for about 6 months before he got a different job in South Carolina. He worked there while the kids and I stayed in Pennsylvania. Then we all moved to Texas and thought things would settle down.
But we were wrong. We are still living in uncertainty. And we feel like we are in limbo. We live in a neighborhood outside of Houston. We want to live in the country in a less populated region.
So I am still homeschooling in the midst of the unknown. My husband’s contracts have averaged 6 months to a year during the 6 years we have lived in Texas. He has had long periods of unemployment in between jobs.
I continue to make the best of our situation. We go to the park often. I use the library like crazy! We don’t spend a lot of money on curriculum. I buy lots of art supplies and paper and writing tools.
We haven’t even unpacked all of our boxes because we have been expecting to move at any time. It has been six years now!
I have lots of school books and supplies that I can’t get to because they are packed away in boxes that are buried in the huge pile in the garage.
So I re-buy some things that I know I already have, and I make do with what I have in the house.
I haven’t been able to homeschool the way I used to. This isn’t what I had pictured our lives would turn out like.
But with God’s help and with my best creative efforts in spite of my desires for something different, we have been able to carry on. The kids have become very independent and resilient and inventive.
Homeschooling can be done under the harshest of conditions. The most turbulent and disturbing things that can happen to a family don’t have to stop you from homeschooling. You may have to adjust the way you do things. You may have to take a break from formal learning for a very long time. But trust the learning process. People learn from life. They learn as they process previous knowledge and add new information and observations to it. So discuss topics with your kids. Light the fire of curiosity and help them find out more about topics they are interested in. Take advantage of teachable moments. Take advantage of free educational opportunities. Take advantage of the library! Make sure you provide resources, manipulatives, books, videos, etc. to facilitate their learning and set an atmosphere that encourages learning.
And trust God to cover for the things that you feel like you’re not able to do because of the way things are. He will make sure your children get the knowledge and skills that they need for the future that He has planned for them.