I had a great friend over yesterday and we talked homeschooling and raising kids for hours while our kids played. We discussed the expectations of attention, curriculum, the long-term look at where our fourth graders might be in a few years.
It’s also the first week of school here in our area. I’ve seen more than a few Facebook group comments about homeschooling mamas feeling “blue” because they don’t have the first day of school pictures. That’s an easy one to overcome. We take first day of school pics every year. My kids think it’s great.
In an effort to offer some encouragement to all the homeschooling mamas out there when it seems we have stepped into lonely territory, I’m sharing five truths about homeschooling that I need to be reminded of each year. I need to go back to the “why.”
Especially when my friend and I discussed our secret, half-hearted wish to send our kids to a private school. The reason these things develop is that we have competing goals – give our children the best of ourselves and an education. When you decide to take the full responsibility for your children’s education on your own shoulders, it’s a scary thing. But it’s also rewarding and stretching and wonderful.
Before I go on, I need to address my friends who send their children to school. You are just as great a mom. Every family is different and I love you for who you are. We homeschool because it’s a calling on our family. I believe that everyone has their own path and love you where you are.
Here are my five truths to encourage the homeschooling mamas this school year.
Truth #1: Have a long haul mindset.
One of the most famous pieces of Scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans that have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”
People use this Scripture to offer comfort in times of trouble or uncertainty. And that’s what Jeremiah was doing for the exiled Israelites. But before this, the Lord told the Jews that they were going to be in captivity for 70 years. That’s pretty depressing.
However, right before that is where I’d like to focus: “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.” (Jeremiah 29:5)
Homeschooling is obviously not captivity. But it’s a way of life. And if we’re not committed to the long haul of it, we’re going to get discouraged very quickly. God doesn’t call us to something to hurt us. He calls us to refine us and grow us. And he wants us to take whatever circumstances we have and live in them.
I’m invested in this way of life. I’m living in my home with my children all day long. That’s not what society tells me is right. It’s what God tells me is right. It helps to rest in that truth.
Truth #2: Homeschooling allows you to meet your child where they are.
My friend and I spoke of how hard it was to get our older girls to focus on schoolwork. She and I are very driven and focused people (most of the time). But something that came out of that conversation is that we can be just as distractable, but we have tools in place that keep us focused. (My number one tool is to put my phone in another room.)
I could look at this challenge with my daughter as an irritation, but I can also see it as a way to meet her where she is. This is my chance to help her develop and stretch herself in this area. Helping her gives me accountability with my own life. I’m challenged to be more diligent and to be an example to someone who is more than a little like me.
Truth #3: Homeschooling allows me to focus on the covenant of parenthood.
All parents are teachers, but when you take ownership of educating the whole child, you take on a huge responsibility. You are making a covenant with your child to better yourself in every step you take with them to better themselves. So much of homeschooling is teaching our children to be people of honor and promise.
Truth #4: Homeschooling keeps me grounded and humble.
My kids absolutely amaze me with their wit and grit. And I’m kind of a chatter box about all the good I see. But I also get to see another side of my kids all the time – the frustrated, sinful side. They get to see me in my raw state when I lose my self-control (which is a lot). But we also get to see forgiveness and authenticity modeled in each other every day. I think that’s my favorite part of this journey – really knowing my children as whole people.
Truth #5: Homeschooling is a profession.
When my friend and I talked yesterday, I spoke of the fulfillment of a prayer I had for myself in my daughter. I wanted to be a blond-haired, blue-eyed popular girl growing up. I wanted to be vivacious and everyone’s friend. But that’s not who I am. I’m a brown-eyed, auburn-haired bookish intellectual introvert. And I’ve come to embrace that identity.
I had aspirations of being something great – someone making a real difference in the world. That’s what got me through serious rejection in school. And I thought that was a corporate career.
But then, the Lord gave me a blond-haired, blue-eyed bubbling brook of vivaciousness. The girl I wanted to be was to be my best friend in the whole world one day. I get to help shape her into the woman I want to befriend. But she’s shaping me. She’s making me better.
And that flashy profession I dreamed about? It doesn’t look anything like I thought it would. I’m a stay-at-home homeschooling mother. It doesn’t pay well. The hours are terrible. But the benefits are the best available.
Prayers to each of you for a wonder-filled, wonderful homeschool year.