the big match by helen

I was asked what my family would be doing to celebrate Family Day.

Ha ha. Just like homework for home educated kids, our family is always doing things together. Turns out Family Day is my daughter’s eleventh birthday so we do have special, out of routine things planned. We celebrate Family Day every day.

What better way to celebrate British Columbia’s Family Day then to learn about a homeschooling family who extends their days, and their home, beyond their family to include other people’s children, kiddos that find themselves in the foster care system.

from Helen:

Sound track from Far and Away plays in the background…

Fostering children and homeschooling, like the instrumental song, starts out light and cheery. You are full of hope, expectations, excitement and adventure. Things get busy, emotions start to rise, then you wonder if there is hope and the sky darkens…

Ok, so maybe that is a little dramatic, but if you listen to the song as you read this, you might understand a little better what fostering and homeschooling are like matched together.

A little history…I will be the first to admit I have an abundance to learn in both areas in my life about homeschooling (especially math) and fostering.

I love kids and they have become a huge passion in my life. I always wanted a big family and to be a stay at home mom. After our fourth child was born, I was eight children short of my goal!!

We both felt very blessed and content. We had some adventure traveling, which turned into the best thing to draw our family closer together without the distractions of friends or family, at least for our family.

Once we settled down again, I mentioned to my dear husband:

Let’s look into becoming foster parents”.

He surprised me when he said, “Ok, let’s look into it“.

So after all the paperwork and lost paperwork, was the training. Amazingly, we got our license over a year ago.

I’m sure some of our family was amazed thinking they gave us a license! Hahaha…Maybe a few comments of “So they just give them out now to anyone, nowadays!” LOL

Now, how do I foster and homeschool? … the BIG question. Now the theme of Jaws plays in the background…

Hmm, maybe too many movie theme songs swimming in my head.

It’s hard to write how I make it work as it is different with each set of siblings we have cared for.

When our first sibling group of two arrived it was a Monday night. Our house was full of excitement and anticipation with our new adventure of fostering. We took the week off formal school as we worked together to create a calm home with routine, stories and lots of outdoor play (our kids are an amazing part of this process).

I recently read an article explaining how foster kids go through the same emotions as a child who is kidnapped. I can say from observing and talking with other foster moms that this is mostly true.

You can see the fear and confusion (a two year old screaming for the first three hours when I picked her up in Red Deer would be a good example! LOL) on their little faces when they come, but not all. We had one sweet boy who made himself at home right from the minute he was dropped off. That sadly was a bad case of attachment disorder.

After the kids begin to fit in, we start up school again.

I soon was aware how much the four year old wanted to learn and I was more than happy to get him involved with our school time and prepare him his own schoolwork.

With each set of foster kids, the process is different.

I love the preschool years with so many hands-on learning activities and such eager learners. Our current sibling group of sisters 3 years and ten years old came to us in August. We didn’t need to take any time off school for the adjustment period. The now three year old loves our story time each morning as she will snuggle up on my lap as I read to all the kids, then she will colour or play as we do our formal work.

The ten year old leaves to get on the bus at 7:30, so that makes that easy. I have been asked a number of times if I could homeschool her. Her answer was yes. But with our goal to get the family back together, and try to keep things as routine as we can for her, she continued on in school. It also gives me the time I need with my kids.

Only on snow days did I have to change my plan.

We don’t take snow days, as most homeschoolers, but after trying once to do school with our kid and her comments…well, to say it was frustrating may be an understatement. On the first two snow days we did no school and I was starting to get a little annoyed with not being able to stick with my school plan, so when we got to snow day number five and I could no longer stand not getting our work done, I did make her do school with the other kids and just had to give her a few reminders. And it was interesting to see how she would blend in and work with us. We have had a total of twelve snow days so far and we are not taking anymore off, as it worked.

This all makes my day a little more challenging, but such is life.

I’ve been told it’s not fair to my kids to have less attention and energy from me. I’ve been asked “How can you do your best at teaching them with so many pulling at me?” Or I hear, “You have to make your family a priority!”

Those are loaded questions, and statements, and I can’t even think of a theme song for you to listen to as I give you my reply to it. Wait…I will think of something. After all music sets the mood!

Ok, Autobots from Transformers plays in the background.

I knew there would be a good track to set the mood. it has a purpose, a mission, just like each follower of God. He has called us each to a different job for him. Giving each of us a gift to use and be accountable for.

Fostering is not for everyone, but each of us are to do something with what God has entrusted to us, a gift.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

This is our mission, where God has called us to care for the children who need a temporary place to feel safe, loved and to learn about His truths.

Don’t be fooled, I get tired, impatient and just plain grumpy, but with God’s strength I can get through the hard days and start a new day each morning.