And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:4 KJV
As I write this, it is June and my kids are full swing into summer break. Although, we are a homeschooling family and summers look a little different for us. It won’t be long before we start school-like activities and lessons again. While my kids are enjoying time vegging out and bugging me with their boredom, I am neck deep in brainstorming sessions and end of the year wrap-up—lesson plans, activity ideas, evaluations, and portfolios!
I’ve been a homeschooling mom for two years now. It always seems so funny to me when someone asks for my opinion or advice when it comes to home education. There is still so much I have yet to learn! While I don’t consider myself the go-to person on the subject, I would love to share with you some of the experiences I have had and the lessons I have learned in the past couple years.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Year One: An Adventure One of the most common questions I get asked is “Why did we start homeschooling?” What is my motivation? Some days the answer is plain and simple: because I’m crazy! There were actually many factors that went into the decision making process (moving to a new city, past school experience, a teaching degree, the cost of private education), but I believe it boils down to just two things. I’m crazy about my kids, and I’m crazy about my God. My greatest passion in life is to influence others for Christ, and I have no greater mission field than my home. When my two younger boys attended a Christian preschool, I loved the fact that they were being taught a worldview and Biblical truth that reinforced what they were learning at home and at church. Homeschooling seemed to be the best option for us to continue that crucial learning process. One of the greatest blessings (and my biggest joys) of being my kids’ teacher is that I get to share with them the gospel in every aspect of our day and lessons. To name a few things, we’ve learned more about creation, missionaries, famous people in history who were Christians, and how “all truth is God’s truth.”
Still, my first year was full of MANY mistakes. I had really no idea what I was doing (I’m still not sure I do)! If not for the Lord and our local homeschooling group, I wouldn’t have made it through the year! I can vividly remember my husband coming home from work one day and finding me on the basement steps in tears. There were definitely days where I felt like quitting. I’m so glad that I didn’t! It is a privilege to teach my kids and a joy to watch them light up when they finally “get it” or find something they enjoy learning! We found many things that didn’t work for us (like waking up early to do school in the mornings) and many other things that did work (like exploring our library and countless selections of books and audio books). Our first year certainly was an adventure!
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
2 Peter 3:18
Year Two: A Creative Experience We started the second year last summer with a staycation (exploring our new city) and a challenge to visit as many playgrounds as possible. What fun! Going into homeschooling the second time around, I wanted to try things a little differently—and to be more organized!! So, I realized that lessons could be on the lawn in our backyard staring up at the stars and reading could be a shared experience (not a painful time-out). My goal was to take the things that didn’t work the previous year and improve, change or discard them. In that process, we got our hands dirty (like making a volcano in the bathtub) and learned to be more creative.
When I recently read a book about dreaming and purpose, I had to question again my motives in homeschooling. Was this truly God’s purpose for our lives? Did He have something better in mind? Was I truly continuing for the right reason? I have been afraid that I continued only because I wanted to avoid being labeled a “failure,” but I have come to learn there is more to it than that. There are truly so many benefits for us of homeschooling. For example, we have a flexible schedule that allows us to visit family and participate more in ministry and I am able to help create the right environment for my son who struggles to focus. However, I have come to realize my love for homeschooling stems from this . . . experiencing life with my kids. We are learning and growing together. While I know you don’t have to homeschool to accomplish this, it certainly helps me to be more intentional about it! My prayer is that I am building memories and a foundation to last lifetime!
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
I really struggled with including that verse. It is so misunderstood, misquoted and misused. I’d love to get in a discussion with you sometime about it, pick your brain a little. For now, let me just say this—I want to provide for my kids the best foundation for a life of godliness. I want to give them ample opportunities to grow in truth and grace. For me, and for the time being, that that includes homeschooling. Maybe after a decade or more of experience has passed, I will have more to say on the subject. Can’t help but wonder what my testimony will be when I oldest son is graduating (if the Lord tarries). I’ve imagined the words that I will use to describe our third year of homeschooling—flexible, successful, classical, or even challenging (but I hope not)! Regardless of our ups and downs, Lord, help me not to forget the value and importance of teaching my kids and raising them in Your truth!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
3 John 4