I’ve got a secret to tell you.
It doesn’t matter if you knew ahead of time that you were going to home school this year.
It doesn’t even matter if you spent 3 months, 3 days, 3 hours, or 3 minutes preparing for your first day.
One thing you’ll have to learn the hard way is – this year will be more about you than them. There isn’t a special trick to avoid it.
Before you listen to your initial reactions – but this noble cause is for their good! Or that sounds selfish to say that this year is about me, not them!
Hear me, because what I have to say is time tested truth – you will learn so much more about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses through this year of home schooling than you ever could without it.
So I recommend that if you want to make your first year a real success (and by real, I mean one that produces the godly fruit and character you desire from yourself and your child – not the success that is only measured by the number of resources completed or boxes checked) then lean into the burden you feel right now.
Home schooling is wild.
It isn’t tame, it doesn’t stay the same from one day to the next, it isn’t fully predictable, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all box out there that can contain you, them, or all the wonderful things you want to learn.
Let it be this way.
Instead of pushing, striving, fretting, and controlling – pray. The Lord loves to lead through our weaknesses.
Don’t put on false strength – He will resist you. When I have done this (it’s a daily battle to remember to embrace my weaknesses) I have suffered from feeling so alone.
With my children, in the noise and busyness, but crushingly alone.
Home schooling isn’t meant to be school at home.
If you don’t know what I mean, then check out the educational theories series and you’ll discover that most of us try to produce a traditional model of education in the home because that’s our default. Most of the home school moms I know weren’t home educated, and so we are learning to educate our children on our own and it’s out of our comfort-zone.
Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when trying something new.
– Brian Tracey
Home schooling is for everyone in the home.
Don’t neglect your further education for the sake of passing information down to your child. They will grow at exponential rates when they see you modeling for them what it looks like to engage in personal growth.
Home schooling changes.
There will be seasons of sowing and seasons of reaping.
Be careful in each to stay stable and steady in your efforts to maintain balance and rhythm in your activities. Just because one season is hard and tiring doesn’t mean that the next season owes you a break. Stretch yourself. Build endurance. Keep working when it feels fruitless. Don’t grow wearing in doing good.
Home schooling allows for re-do’s.
Scheduling, planning, multitasking, cooking, cleaning, reading, writing, lecturing, etc. all need to be smashed into everyday. You will get it wrong. Don’t give up when you get it wrong. Learn from yourself. Lean into who you were created to be.
It took me a long time to figure this one out because of my crippling fear of failure. When things didn’t go as I planned, or children didn’t cooperate as I’d hoped, I took that as a sign that I was too broken to accomplish anything. My too-broken-self would then resent our routine. I would grow apathetic to doing things in order. I didn’t have the strength to boss myself around so why try to be the authority my children needed?
I learned to start keeping track of my time. I scheduled backwards – I recorded what we did, not what I wanted to do. I analyzed what points in our day filled us with joy and what points drained us – I didn’t separate myself out from my kids, but I studied us as a unit – as a home. I watched how we were all like dominos – cause and effect.
Home schooling is work.
Yes, I gave into the fantasy that my children would rise to eat a healthy breakfast, dutifully accomplish their morning chores, and politely seat themselves at their appointed spots (don’t get me started about desks) signaling to me that they were ready to receive their instructions.
It doesn’t work this way for us; we are getting there, but it has required a lot of work on my part to set up a good routine.
If motherhood has taught me anything it is that I can do more work than I thought I could. Boy, was I a lazy bum before kids.
Maybe you don’t struggle against the weakness of laziness, and that’s great! But maybe your struggle is knowing when to stop all the other good works available to you inside and outside the home. These good things compete with the work of sitting next to a child without distraction, just waiting, being available, and ready to help.
Sometimes the work of laundry, dishes, and other duties must wait.
Trust me, you can get better at balancing your work, but first you may have to accept the mess. Accept that the work is hard.
Home schooling is best when shared.
Just like the fantasy world of home education caused me to be jaded for a season, so has hiding our reality from the world. I don’t believe we should parade our failures and make light of them, but hiding them will only lead to a scary place of false pretenses.
Find another home schooling mother who is a few years ahead of you in the journey and listen to her. Join a community of educators to learn, grow, and support.
Home schooling is cooperative.
You and your child will have to learn to work together. I can tell you, this mama can’t do it all. I would have, however, died trying if someone hadn’t intervened and taught me to delegate.
Respect and obedience, self-control and submission all must be given clear leadership by living this way. Your child will thrive when trusted, discipled, and guided to learn along side you.
Home schooling is a gift.
Both to you and to your child. You have a limited amount of time to make a deep and lasting impact on their heart. Hold it carefully and closely. Whether you keep them home for 1-year or all the way through high school, the time you have together is a great gift of love – don’t let the fears lessen the blessing of enjoying this gift together.
Remember what the secret was? This year will be more for you than them.
The greatest gifts don’t always come in pretty packages, rather the greatest rewards are earned by those who do the hardest work. Work on yourself and you will reap greater rewards.
Finally, know you aren’t alone in this good work.
Here are some great resources for encouragement:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling :: Patrick Farenga :: Guide to meeting state requirements, setting up a schedule, defining teaching styles, etc. It is small, helpful, and written in conversational language.
- The Year of Learning Dangerously – Adventures in Homeschooling :: Quinn Cummings :: This is her humorous story of choosing to homeschool her daughter after 5 years in public and private schools.
- Educating the WholeHearted Child :: Clay and Sally Clarkson :: The gold standard for encouragement to not only keep your child home for their education, but also to disciple their heart, mind, and soul. This is a large resource, best used as a reference guide.
- Why be crazy enough to homeschool? :: Ann Voskamp :: Her delightful and long answer to this question will help anyone wanting to see the long view of what we are doing this for. Although it is impossible to copy and paste another family’s routine, philosophy, and interests – there is so much to learn from their example.
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