Interview with Esther Gaines

esther-gaines

Age: 32
Ages/Grades of Children: 6 (1st grade), 4 (pre-k), 23 months
Location: North Carolina

Why and when did you decide to homeschool your children? 

In 2014, being due with our second child and praying ALOT, my husband and I decided to walk by faith – I would quit teaching for the public school system and stay home with the boys. Childcare for two kids would’ve been equivalent to my monthly check, so why not “pay” myself? 🙂 Although I worked with the boys at home with fundamental teachings, I did not actually keep them completely home and out of childcare/preschool to do homeschool fulltime until August 2015. Having mentored a young lady who came out of the public school system and started homeschool Spring 2015 and then hearing and meeting mothers who were putting their children into Christian coops, the idea started to turn in my head. Although familiar with the concept, it was never what I considered “my calling.” However, through (again) much prayer and conversation with my husband about our sons, God’s call on their life and the reality that we are responsible for aiming these “arrows” towards Christ (Psalm 127:4), my heart had finally turned as it became very clear to us that homeschooling was our way to go.

What’s the best homeschooling advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever received has been about not being uptight about the lessons. Honestly, I could sum it up in one book by Sarah Mackenzie – Teaching from Rest. She so wisely showed me that in order to remove the anxiousness and fear of failing my children in educating them, I have to find rest in knowing God has asked me to simply be faithful to teach them every day and He will grow them in their education. I am not the all-knowing teacher responsible for every minute detail of their “educational success”; I am not sovereign nor am I omnipotent. I am simply to be a trusting servant that He’s given children to raise according to His word and standards. So if the lesson plan was not completed but my child mastered a hard concept while growing in Biblical character, I am aiming to find peace & rest in knowing THAT is the real goal to have been accomplished.

How has homeschooling changed you?

It has brought me closer to Christ. My flaws are so obvious (at least to me and probably my children lol), and when I hit one of those frustrating moments when my child is not understanding the concept or is being lazy or is just not what or where I want him to be, God shows me control issues, selfishness and pride. My lack of patience and empathy. I’m then convicted and have to lean greatly on God’s Spirit because I realize whatever I say or however I respond is not just a reflection of me as mommy-teacher but of HOW I am living as a believer in front of my children. Knowing that draws me to ask God to HELP THIS CRAZY MAMA be more like Jesus so my kids can see that HE is working in, on and through me as I’m willing to rest and adjust in Him. Apologizing to your child for your ungodly attitude and response is one of THE most ugly-beautiful & humbly things I’ve experienced so far.

What was your biggest misconception about homeschooling prior to becoming a home educator?

The biggest misconception I had was that I had to know how to do everything overwhelmingly well. I had to have mastered the ideas and concepts of all academic areas and do so alone. Thankfully, this fear has diminished with knowledge of other homeschool veterans, which is why I’m so grateful for resources such as Homeschoolstrong.

How do you balance homeschooling and finding time for yourself?

This is definitely something I’m still working on, but my husband and I have declared one night of the week “my night off.” This means I am free from ALL wife and mommy duties when he gets off of work. No cooking dinner. No cleaning. No referee-ing the boys. I am not to do anything related to my titles. It’s been refreshing as I’ve treated myself to dinner, done art in the office, visited my parents, wasted time online, met friends and even taken a nap (because who can go to bed that early when lessons need to be done the next day??) Although I don’t always go out, my husband has been amazing at making sure I have this time.

How has your homeschooling approach changed since you began?

My first year, I had all 3 of my children, including an up-and-coming mobile baby. Due to that, I did an accredited streaming curriculum with some parent-led lessons; I felt this helped in between the diapers and “mom, he’s crawling on the…” It was difficult many times, especially since I was primarily focused on (and thought I could only afford) to teach our oldest. Plus, with it being accredited, the timeline was stressful in my first year when I didn’t pre-schedule in family trips, doctor appointments, etc. I had no knowledge of the life WITH homeschool, so I was winging it for sure.

This year, I only have 2 at home while the other is in a 4-day program. I am doing a completely parent-led homeschool program which has given me this amazing excitement to find creative ways to teach school concepts. Having two children at home versus all three has made it less stressful as I teach in the afternoons during our toddler’s naptime. I can now give all of my attention to our daily sessions as well as use our mornings for either extra-curricular things, field trips, even errands that often turn into learning moments.

How can we connect with you?

Website: www.2aiming3arrows.com

Instagram: @2aiming3arrows

Twitter: @2aiming3arrows

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