Homeschooling Life-Lessons (So far):
The quality of homeschooling is very much affected by the quality of my relationships in the home – with the Lord, with my husband, Edric. When Edric and I have tension in our marriage or our emotional tanks aren’t full, I don’t feel like homeschooling. If I am spiritually off because I’ve been disobedient to the Lord, I am not effective at teaching my kids. If I am shackled down by hurt, bitterness, anger, then I am not free to love my kids. And how can I be a good teacher if I cannot love? 1 Corinthians 13 says, “If I am a gifted speaker, but do not have love, I am just an ugly sound. If I have supreme knowledge and understanding, and I am so full of faith I can move mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing. The best teachers aren’t those who know everything but those who love God and with his love, are able to love others. Love compels me to be patient and understanding when teaching my kids.
Homeschooling is a life of faith. It is easy to get tornadoed by circumstances, on lookers, the opinions of others, my own failings and insecurities and my children’s areas of weakness. But the Bible says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) The fears I have about homeschooling may be natural and founded. I go through moments of doubt, especially self-doubt. But when I am reminded that this is God’s call and respond in faith no matter what my fears may are, I experience God’s enablement. “For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)
Homeschooling is the most costly education in the world.
The Cost of Modeling: My children are watching and listening to me. When my eldest was about 3 years old, he was sitting in the back seat of the car listening to Edric and I have a conversation that became heated. We weren’t shouting at each other but we were clearly agitated. We had forgotten that Elijah was in the back seat and he poked his head in between the two front seats and said, “Dad you should use a happy voice with mommy. And mommy you should listen to daddy.” Edric and I laughed out loud because he was absolutely correct. He had been watching and listening to our dialogue the whole time and God used him to remind us that we need to be careful of our example.
Our Children COPY us either positively or negatively! Sometimes it is the negative behaviors that they copy more than the positive ones. When Edric and I noticed that one of our sons was becoming a moody person, we had to check our own examples. Edric realized that he was probably copying him, so he apologized to the family for being grumpy. He even apologized to the househelp!
Since we are with our kids so often, we must be able to say, “Do what I say and do,” not, “Do what I say not what I do.” One time I caught my kids being mean to one another and shouting, so I asked them, “Do you see mommy or daddy doing that to you? We don’t do that because it is hurtful and it isn’t pleasing to God. If you love God and you love each other, you won’t do things to hurt one another.” I couldn’t have done this if I shouted and lost my temper at home. As parents, Edric and I have to continually model loving God, loving others, humility, integrity, forgiveness, submission to authority, and the fruit of the spirit. It isn’t easy!
The Cost of Time: You give your time, energy, effort, your life. If I continue homeschooling my kids through high school, I will be teaching for over 20 years! I can’t even imagine how long that will be! But until God says stop, our family doesn’t plan to. For better or for worse, I’m going to homeschool. What’s the cost to me? My youth (what’s left of it). My liberties. My personal ambitions and desires. My comfort. My space. My contribution to family income and the list goes on…But I have no regrets so far. This is a long term investment with the promise of eternal dividends.
Homeschooling takes all day because homeschooling is discipleship. When parents ask me, “How long do you homeschool?” I usually say, the kids do their work in the morning. But the more accurate answer is that it really takes all day. So much of what happens in between the actual work, throughout the many interactions I have with my kids, is the actual homeschooling. It’s not about the number of subjects that I teach or how much time that part takes. It’s about discipleship. Discipleship makes the academic instruction easier.
When the acquisition of knowledge is the priority, then I can start to get angry, irritated and impatient when my academic goals for the kids are blocked. If they aren’t cooperative or motivated, I can feel annoyed. And I may want to push, push, push. What am I pushing towards? I may get them to comply externally and complete 10 pages of their math book in one sitting but their heart is far way from me, for away from the Lord. I don’t want to settle for that kind of education in our home. I want my kids to grow deeper in love with Jesus; their hearts to remain teachable and receptive to instruction; and I want them to internalize godly values and character. That is homeschooling. And that takes all day, every day.
Homeschooling takes commitment to a vision – a beautiful hope. I look forward to the day when Edric and I can present our kids before the Lord – grown men and women, who are 100% in love with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…men and women who are fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives and making a positive difference in the world, for the glory of God. When I fixate on this vision, it keeps me going. There is a proverb that says, Without vision the people perish. Similarly, if I get caught up in the small stuff, the day to day stresses of homeschooling, I can lose sight of the grander vision and feel like giving up. So I have to stay focused on the more important goal – the reason why I am homeschooling.
Homeschooling is not the answer to the world’s problems. If I am not careful, I can become a fanatic for home education – a legalist who believes that parents who don’t homeschool are somehow “less enlightened, less loving, less pleasing to God.” Well, that is a totally incorrect perspective. It is outright cultish! At the end of the day, the command is “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…and teach this diligently to your children as often as you can, whenever you can, for as long as you can.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 paraphrased) The reality is you can be homeschooling and not be teaching your children to love the Lord at all. Homeschooling is not the antidote to the problem of the world. It doesn’t save a family from the consequences of sin or guarantee that children will be protected from worldly evil or influence. It doesn’t solve relationship problems within the family or cure the character flaws of parents and kids. The only real hope and answer to the world’s problems is Jesus. He is the one who changes families and changes the world through families.
So whether a family should choose to homeschool over a conventional school or keep homeschooling, bear in mind that whether we homeschool or not, we need to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and raise our children to do the same. That’s what all parents will be held accountable for. Edric and I just so happen to believe that homeschooling gives us the best conditions to do this.
Homeschool is successful only by God’s grace. Who am I? Who am I to have the circumstances that I do, the resources available to me, the husband, and the children that bring me so much joy? They are God’s gifts to me. I don’t deserve them or any of his blessings. It is grace. God’s grace. If anyone should look upon my children and affirm their abilities or talents, the credit does not go to me, Edric, our kids, or even to homeschooling. Everything is by God’s grace alone.
Homeschooling is an invitation to experience God’s grace. I believe in doing my part. But the results are always a testament, not to my ability to teach or train my children, or the magic of the homeschooling experience, but to the grace of God. It isn’t the easiest season of a mother’s life but it is a season of grace, and a season of grace is a season of joy. After 10 years of being a homeschool mom (I started homeschooling when my first child was born!), I still think it is the best education in the world and I still enjoy it with all my heart!
Read the prequel if you haven’t yet…What I like About Homeschooling