I was inspired as as I sat with my family this evening watching Barbie Nutcracker. It reminded me of a high school senior in our homeschool cooperative that was selected last year to participate in the Governor’s Scholar Program for the Performing Arts. Elizabeth is one of the sweetest and most personable girls I know, while also being an amazing ballerina. I envisioned her dancing the part of Clara in the Nutcracker Ballet. How does the fact that Elizabeth is homeschooled contribute to her talent? A lot would be my guess.
One of the most magical aspects of homeschooling is the ability to see your child(ren) the way that God naturally knit them together and to be able to tailor their education to work in symmetry with His unique design. I found that when our children were still in public school the pressure was to spend any extra time converting C’s to B’s and B’s to A’s in the ever constant pursuit of developing all straight A students. When we took the kids out of school and began really asking what we wanted to accomplish, it became evident that we felt that our charge as parents was to help our children develop as fully as possible into who God wanted them to be. We believe that He has a unique purpose and plan for each of our lives. It is our job to be open to His leading in fulfilling that role. As parents, we strive to help our children grasp a hold on this vision and encourage them to believe that God does in fact have a special plan for each of them.
Our oldest child is taken with the art of film. Her dad and I see so many incredible talents in her and the magnificent way that her mind works. Her art of persuasion and public speaking could very easily lead her into a career in law. Her artistic prowess that she has gained from her maternal grandmother’s family amazes us as we watch her make original maps of Middle Earth from Tolkien’s books. Those that come into contact with some of her writings are enthralled with her storylines, character development, and creativity that keep them engrossed in her work. In the midst of all this, small children are taken with her as she exhibits incredible patience in teaching them to do many of the things she enjoys herself. However, if you were to chat with her, she would very enthusiastically share with you her love for everything film.
Honestly, her dad and I have been reluctant to wrap our arms around this love affair. We consider the odds of our daughter being the next Steven Spielberg, which she will tell you is one of her personal goals. We fear the impact that the culture of Hollywood would have on her if she were to relocate there to pursue her dream. We want to protect her from the what ifs??? Her passion has challenged us to really ask if we trust God with her future, if we trust it enough to allow her to steer her coursework in high school to develop her passions and talents in this area. If we were blatantly honest, we would admit that none of this would be a problem if she wanted to pursue something more mainstream, something more “conservative”, something more stable.
So where do we go? We began with asking her that very question. It has allowed the conversations to take place to help us see her goal of bringing a Christian film to the big screen. We have talked about the personal challenges to her value system if she were to become entrenched in the total Hollywood experience. We have jointly explored Christian film companies and have even found a Christian University in our area that has a really strong major of study in film production and media communications. How does this all translate into our day in – day out experience of homeschooling?
If we truly believe that this is God’s call on her life at this time, we must ask if AP-Calculas is really necessary. Is there a physics class that will focus on the fundamentals of light and sound as they apply to filmmaking? Could we construct such a course as a fourth year of her science requirements. We have already begun directing her elective credits toward this area of study. She has completed a Film Genres class with a paper culminating in a critical analysis of films in each major genre. We are using a variety of materials in conjunction with an Intro to Film Production class at our homeschool co-op to complete the basic requirements for a Film Production Elective. Another area of challenge we have put before her was in writing a personal letter to Steven Spielberg as well as making contacts with some Christian film production companies. She is also preparing to enter some high school level film competitions to gain the experience of having those outside her social circle view and critique her work.
Is our daughter amazing? Unequivocally, yes!! But so are our other three children. And guess what? So is each and every child created by our Heavenly Father. Unfortunately, when children are fed through the mainstream education system where they are provided with a cookie cutter mentality, their individual gifts and talents are many times underdeveloped. It would be incredibly challenging to find the time to develop these gifts and talents when a child leaves for school at 6:30 in the morning and does not return home until just before dinner. After dinner, they are usually faced with several hours of homework. Just when would you find both the quantity and quality of time necessary for really developing their talents. For this reason, it is not even expected of most teens. This very issue of the under expectations of teens is highlighted very dramatically in the Harris Brothers’ book, Do Hard Things. A great read for anyone that really wants to challenge their teen or a teen that wishes to challenge him or herself.
So does homeschooling really have anything to do with developing the future great leaders in every industry of our country. Yes, it allows students to identify their passions and develop them much more fully. If you really do a search of great child actors, musicians, dancers, and even more academically geared prodigies, you will find that the active pursuit of their dreams has eventually brought them to homeschooling, because of the ability to provide them with a strong academic training while also pursuing their passions. The glory in homeschooling first is that we get to walk this wonderful journey with our children as their passions emerge and can invest in their character along the way. Proverbs 22:6 states that we are to train up our children in the way they are to go and in the end they will not turn from it. This definitely can apply to their spiritual development, but have you ever considered the application to nurturing the natural way that God has wired your child and the profound way he or she may impact the world if the pursuit of those passions is encouraged and developed with confidence from childhood.
In closing I would like to share with you one of our daughter’s first films. Who knows, you may just find yourself saying one day, “I remember several years ago watching one of her original films on her mom’s blog. Who would have thought she would have hit it this big!”
This is an original short film that was produced for a film competition through our local homeschool cooperative on the theme of Random Acts of Kindness. Rucia received first place in this competition.