We are incredibly thankful for these dear women who have given of their precious time to answer homeschooling questions! Their responses are filled with encouragement, grace, and honesty. We've already been deeply encouraged by them and trust you will be as well.
While these ladies would never claim to have perfect families, we wish you could meet them in person. It's very evident that these women (along with their husbands) have been extremely intentional in the training up of their children. Whether you homeschool or not, there is a host of wisdom packed in their responses.
There were common themes in many of the questions that were submitted, so we narrowed them down to four. Because every family and homeschooling experience is unique, we thought it would be most beneficial to have a variety of responses to all four questions.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be featuring multiple responses (to all four questions) from these ladies. Today, we will hear from April.
Question #1: Looking back on your homeschool journey, what are you glad you did, and what would you have done differently?
"I am really glad I didn't give up when I was discouraged and lacking in confidence. All of us are insecure in our parenting. We love our children so much and want the very best for them. So much so that sometimes we feel like someone else (as in a "professional") could do a better job, especially when we are facing family challenges such as a move to a new home, a pregnancy, an illness, money issues etc... We feel torn with all these things clamoring for our attention and our energy quickly being used up. Then is when we are most vulnerable to the siren song of society, "Hello, this is the professional educational system calling, and we are here to help."
Bottom line is when we feel overwhelmed and "lost in the tall weeds" of expectations (whether they be personal expectations or the expectations of others) we have got to get back to the "main road." We need to stay simple and keep the "main thing" the main thing to keep our sanity! Which brings us to the question of what is the "main thing" in raising and educating our children? Is it the proper lesson plans, the right scope and sequence? Is there a magic methodology that causes our children to excel with as little work as possible? What is it exactly that I should be doing to make this all work?
While there are practical home school ideas that can be very helpful, when it comes to overcoming that feeling of discouragement the answer does not lie in "doing" more. Chances are it is the "doing" mind-set that has led us to discouragement in the first place. The freedom and joy we seek is not going to come from a better methodology...it is not a matter of "doing," it is a matter of "being." It is easy to get caught up in the "Performance Mama" syndrome..."How much can I juggle, keeping us all doing as much good stuff as we possibly can." Or, it is just as easy to be the "Marathon Mama"..."I am gritting my teeth and finishing this if it kills me." The only light heartedness she feels is when she is commiserating with other women who feel like they are failing as well. After all, confessing our failures is sort of cool now, it looks like humility...but it's not. (However that's a different topic. ;-)) But you see Parenting/Homeschooling is not "all about us" and our capabilities whether good or bad. It is all about following the Lord and His commands concerning how we are to train our children.
The "main thing" is found in these familiar verses. Deut. 6:4-9
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
First and foremost the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. To love, nurture, and care for the heart and soul of our children is to show them the character of God through the pages of Scripture and through our lives that they might come to know Him and to love Him. That is really the bottom line. This is the unique job the Lord has given to US as parents. No school, public or private, has that responsibility or could do it any better! When you feel inadequate, actually the truth is you are...we all are, but you can trust the Lord will equip you as a parent to carry out His commands. Lean on Him for wisdom, direction, and energy to accomplish what He has asked, He is more than adequate! There is nothing as rewarding as seeing your child as a new believer begin to manifest the "fruits of the Spirit" (Gal. 5.) There is also no "discipline methodology" that will be as effective in dealing with the sin nature of your child as the work of the Holy Spirit in his or her little life!
So, RELAX and ENJOY "walking along the way" with your children. Help them to simply "love learning" and most importantly learning about our amazing Heavenly Father! If the love for learning becomes a part of who they are then education becomes a natural way of life even after they leave home. And lastly, three important things: pray for them, stay in the Word yourself, and let your children see the character of the Lord through your walk...and keep on walking this walk even unto the next generations!"