But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
One of my favorite comments from moms who do not homeschool is, “Oh, I could never homeschool my kids. I just don’t have the patience.”
Invariably, I answer, “Me either!”
The bare fact is that God never called me to homeschool because I was especially patient. Nor was I especially qualified. In fact, I never had a desire to teach before having children of my own, and thanks to some truly horrendous choices, never even finished college. At the time, I was not even a mature Christian!
In my wildest speculations, the only reason I can conceive of that my God would call me to homeschool my little brood is that my very weakness and ineptitude made a stunning backdrop for a display of His power. It certainly wasn’t my
Also, in my years of homeschooling, He has changed me. I am no longer as impatient as I once was. I’m less of a yeller. Truth be told, I am absolutely positive that I have learned far more than my kiddos through this experience.
Now that the number of pupils in my little academy has dwindled to one (at least for now), I have a little breathing room and can look back over the last decade and see some of the lessons I have learned. Here are a few of them:
- If God calls you to homeschool, you can do it. You don’t have to be a certified teacher, nor patient, nor gifted in the arts of education, nor anything, really. If you are called, you are called. The only question is whether or not to obey. Remember that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, so be on your knees frequently and ask for the wisdom and strength you need. Then trust Him to bring it to pass.
- If you are called, this does not mean it will be easy. Being both parent and teacher is never easy, no matter how much or how little training you have. I think sometimes we tend towards a crazy notion that when God calls us to do something, He is obligated to line everything up so that we can float through our days without so much as a breeze to ruffle our hair. The reality is that when He calls us to do something, our ruffles are more often buffets from gale-force winds, but this is only so we will learn to rely more on Him and less on our silly selves. Just because it is hard does not mean it isn’t worth it.
- Have fun when the kids are small. Now naturally, school cannot be all fun and games and I am definitely not an advocate of unschooling, but there’s no good in stressing over-much when they are little. The early elementary years are the times to get hands on and develop a desire to learn about this wonderful world God made. It can be a time to really enjoy these sweet little people God has planted in your life. While co-ops and tutorials can be very good things, I tend to think they are best from middle school on. My one major regret is that I farmed out the fun stuff and compromised my vision for our school during the kids’ elementary years with a tutorial. While this was great fun for them and was still a good experience, they also did all the fun experiments and projects with their friends while I was left with the drier and duller subjects such as math and grammar. Needless to say, I was not the favorite teacher in those years. 😉
- Hold the older kids accountable. Scheduling is not always a popular topic among homeschoolers. Many let their kids sleep in and enjoy other freedoms that homeschooling offers, sometimes to a fault if we are honest. As our kids approach adolescence, it is crucial that we do not skip such critical life lessons as punctuality and meeting deadlines. If the goal is to train responsible, functional, Godly adults. That means they need to learn responsibility, how to function under authority, and sacrifice. At this age, it’s time to focus on a work ethic and doing our work heartily as to the Lord.
- Hold yourself accountable. Homeschooling may not pay a salary, but it is a real, full-time job. For me, sometimes this meant resisting the temptation to check email or fool around on faceboook during school hours, even if I was not needed at that moment. When the kids were older, it sometimes meant saying “no” to meeting friends or to babysitting because my kids needed the time to focus on their school work without distraction. Imagine if your child went to school and the teacher frequently cut corners and left early to play or even to do things for others but at the class’s expense. Once I thought of myself that way, it gave me a new perspective. Guess who gets to set the example of doing our work heartily as to the Lord? 😉
Of course, that’s just the nickel version. I have learned so much more, most of it not even related to homeschooling. However, that is quite enough words for tonight, I’d say!