As our family embarked on the homeschool journey, I was one who constantly asked questions of other homeschool moms. I was looking for any piece of practical and godly wisdom I could glean from those with slightly older children. I am so thankful for those women who were patient with me while answering my deluge of questions, pointing out possible curriculum and methods, and directing and inspiring me from the very beginning.
I continue to ask LOTS of questions and I am still learning, but now, more and more I am also being asked for advice by newer homeschool moms. Many of these dear women are in a very rich, yet difficult season – a season where their family consists mostly of little ones and a slightly older child just beginning to be able to help. Just trying to think about ‘how’ to homeschool can be daunting – especially on days when they can’t even seem to get a picture book read to their older one without it being pulled away by a pair of sweet, tiny, little hands. Mix in the doubts from within and the well meaning concerns from others, and you could feel like giving up before you even start. I know… because not so long ago, I was there, too.
Even with so many faithful, encouraging homeschool moms who went before me, I, somehow, still entered homeschooling completely unaware of how challenging it would be and how much growth God had in store for the kids – and for me. The following is some of what God has been teaching me during our first several years of homeschooling. Now, please don’t misunderstand. I do not presume to know everything and realize that God has so much more to teach me along this journey, but I pray that my sharing will be helpful for other moms just starting out on this awesome adventure into homeschooling.
First, the practical…
1) Get into a routine. Children need to know what to expect and have some consistent order to their day. Start by thinking through some non changing points (like meal, snack, and nap times) in the day and work around those.
2) Consider using workboxes . I’ve found that individual workboxes helps our older kids to keep progressing and moving forward with their schoolwork during the day, even when I can’t due to tending to the needs of their younger siblings.
3) Provide for the hearts and hands of your little ones, too. Here are lots of practical ideas for including little ones that we have implemented over the years!
4) Homeschooling with a newborn has its’ own set of challenges, but it is doable.
5) Amidst all the flurry of planning for ‘school’ and academics, don’t forget to persist in focusing on your kids’ heart, character, and continued first time obedience.
Now, for what I think is the most important…
Emotionally & Spiritually
1) It is great to have a plan, but also make sure you are preparing to be flexible and ready to adjust as needed, especially with little ones. This is one constant theme that God has been repeating to me with each new homeschool year –flexibility!
2) Give yourself and your kids grace. You will make mistakes. You will not always be able to fit in everything you want to do each day. You probably will not always speak to your children with a gentle tone of voice nor respond in a righteous way and need to seek forgiveness. Dinner might be late and laundry may get piled up high. Yes, you will experience days where you just –want –to -quit. But, if your call and burden is God given, then He will also give you the grace and strength to continue on.
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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (Corinthians 12:9-10)
3) Be prepared to battle the lies that you will inevitably encounter. Over time, as you peruse homeschool magazines, read homeschool blogs, and chat with your neighboring homeschooler (all of which can provide needed insight, encouragement, and great ideas) you will eventually start to think that everyone else seems to be able to ‘do it all’, that maybe it would be better to have your kids taught by someone else, that somehow you are failing your children, and doubt your ability to teach them diligently.
You see your own daily failings and compare it to others’ bright shining moments. The day to day can be hard and blind you to what is actually going well in your own homeschool and the gradual growth God is performing in you and your children.
I’ve personally thought and felt each of these emotions (The Joy Stealer).
You can choose to fix your mind on things unseen, to take captive every thought, and to focus on God’s Word and Truth in order to combat the lies. Stay connected to the vine, being in His Word.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast,because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
I love this quote by Nancy Leigh DeMoss in her book Lies Women Believe. She states,
“Frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities God does not intend for us to carry. Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God’s priorities for each season of life, and then setting out to fulfill those priorities, in the power of His Spirit, realizing the He has provided the necessary time and ability to do everything that He has called us to do.”
Seek His guidance to know what He desires for you to accomplish each day, in each of your roles, and in each season your family is in. He is faithful to provide just what we need at just the right time.
5) Remind yourself why you are homeschooling.
- What Homeschooling Isn’t
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
Remembering why you embarked on the homeschool journey will help you make wise curriculum, extracurricular/activity, and time commitment decisions – keeping you focused on what matters the most.
You can homeschool!
Prepared with practical things you can do and dressed with your emotional and spiritual armor on, you can persevere when the days are challenging!
By God’s grace, He will not only help get you started on this journey,
but He will also sustain you.
He will equip you for the task He has given you – every step of the way.