Category Archives: Homeschooling

5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Homeschooling

With changes rapidly happening in our public school system, more parents than ever are considering the very viable option of homeschooling. If you’re one of those, read on.I’ll never forget our first year of homeschooling.I sort of “fell” into homeschooling, and so, admittedly, I was not as well prepared as some of you dear readers will be. In fact, I was about as green as green could get—but I was trying—right down to the flag salute and scheduled recess time. Like many new homeschool moms, I was trying to imitate what I remembered about school. And the school that I attended as a child had a flag salute. So we did, too.As you are probably guessing, our first year was tricky. The neighbors thought we were crazy, my parents wondered out loud about my “ability” to teach our children, and I had no idea how to get dinner on the table and still teach math, reading, and science. Or, maybe I didn’t need to be teaching science to our second grader? The opinions on teaching science to second graders were mixed, after all.Can you relate? Oh, the things I worried about!

I needed a class for homeschool rookies, but unfortunately, there were no such classes around.

Homeschooling is the best decision we have ever made with regard to how we would educate our children. But I won’t lie to you—those first few years were especially challenging. If I could start again, I would do a few things differently.

But even so, God has a way of working all things together for good as we trust him. Here are just a few of the many things he’s taught me over the past fifteen years:

Education is Discipleship

“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” (Luke 6:40)Education is discipleship.  This simple sentence has become the mission statement of our homeschool. The Lord has taught us the simple truth about education through homeschooling. And the truth is that ALL education can be summed up in one word: discipleship.Because the Bible tells us that students become like their teachers, we know that our children are modeling us in every area of life. Luke 6:40 bears special meaning for homeschooling parents. It reminds us that no matter who is teaching our children, they are being discipled; and it compels us to examine our own lives, because our children are very likely going to be just like we are.

The culture we live in has made academics the “main thing,” but I beg to differ. Academics pale in comparison to teaching our children what it means to be men and women who are sold out for Jesus Christ, ready to give an answer for the Hope that lies within them. Education is simply the opportunity to shape the hearts and minds of our children. There can be no greater goal than to teach our children to follow hard after Christ.

Manner is More Important Than Method

As a new homeschooler, I was bombarded with academic opportunities. Dozens of programs and curricula overwhelmed me at the homeschool conference. I studied my options, poring through homeschool catalogs and investigating different companies. Our coffee table overflowed with flyers and curriculum samples.

If I could start over (which I can, each year, by the way!), I would have spent more time praying and preparing for the manner in which I would be known for teaching our children, rather the method I chose. At the end of the day, my kids remember much more about how I taught them, rather that what I taught them.

As you begin homeschooling, take some time to think about how you want your kids to remember their homeschool years. I have learned that the relationships I foster with my children are much more important than the books I choose.

Fruit Grows Over Time

No one ever plants a fruit tree and expects mature fruit to appear overnight. Yet, for some reason, homeschool parents often feel pressure to “out-perform” in almost every area of parenting, even when children are very young!

Your kids don’t need to be seen as geniuses. If your neighbors ask your fourth grader what the capital of Texas is and he answers “Oregon,” don’t panic! Remind yourself that good fruit takes time to grow. The results of good homeschooling take time to see.

We can place undue pressure on ourselves and our children when we saddle ourselves with expectations that do not come from the Lord. See his expectations and live up to those. The rest either don’t matter, or will come in time. There will never be a teacher more devoted to the success of your child than you are.

Child Training Trumps the A-B-Cs

Is your child disobedient? Whining? Ungrateful? Rebellious? If so, then “real” school has begun.

Training your child to be obedient is more important than teaching addition. Don’t be afraid to stop formal schooling to teach the greater lessons of life: obedience, respect, truthfulness, graciousness, and love. I have met many parents over the years who miss the true opportunity of homeschooling by focusing solely on academics. Their children suffer for it. The parents suffer too, but it’s usually later down the road.

Consider Eli, who served as a priest in Israel. His unwillingness to discipline his sons brought dishonor to his family, and ultimately, grave punishment to his sons and himself.

You will not have done your child any favors if he or she is fluent in three languages, but cannot speak a single one in a loving and respectful way. When we honor God’s ways first, the rest will follow.

Learning Style Matters

Take the time to discover both your primary learning style and the learning styles of your children. Moms who know their learning style have an easier time choosing curriculum and a far greater success rate in teaching their children the best way.

Your preferred learning style will guide the way you learn, and it will greatly influence the way you teach!

For example, I know that I am a visual learner. If I had taken the time to discover this earlier in my homeschooling, I would have avoided many of the curricula that I chose, because I would have known that I would probably not enjoy teaching it.

Generally, you will find that you and your children fall into one of these learning styles:

• Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

• Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

• Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands, and sense of touch.

• Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.

• Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

• Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

There are many books and websites dedicated to learning styles. Check them out! You’ll be glad you did.

It’s been many years since I took my first steps as a new homeschool mom. Last month, we graduated our son, who never went to “regular” school. Like his two sisters before him, Skylar is ready. He graduated in June from our homeschool, and as he did, he was likely to catch a glimpse of two wide-eyed parents staring at him in a cap and gown … not because they couldn’t believe he graduated, but because they couldn’t believe it went by so fast.

With four more children coming up, we are learning just how fast it goes—and how worth it the journey is.

The New Face of “Hate”—and the Message of Grace

The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Ruler::it cannot redefine what God has already defined: marriage is between one mane and one woman.

My heart hurts a little today. Not gonna lie. Turns out that God’s word is unpopular. I have gay friends. I love them. I’ve never said an unkind word to them. I’ve never been rude, disrespectful or the least bit “hateful.”

However, apparently my stance that God created marriage and that His word is authoritative and inerrant on all matters pertaining to life and death has made me hateful.  As such, I have become the target for some truly hateful comments. People have said they wished I would die, called me a bigot, said that their god is “disgusted” with me. Several posters questioned whether or not I should be allowed to keep my “indoctrinating” my own children.  “I hate you!” one woman yelled in a Facebook post, “You should not be allowed to live in this country!” Shortly after that, another woman said I was the “most ignorant, hateful person she had ever encountered.”

Really? Does she not get out much? If I’m the meanest person she has ever encountered she should meet some of my social media “followers.”

 

In a breath-taking departure from the rule of law, the Supreme Court has mandated a new moral code for you. So how do we…

Posted by The Busy Mom on Monday, 29 June 2015

 

A few days ago, when our president colored the White House with God’s rainbow in celebration of what God calls sin, my heart broke. Like many of you reading this, I felt I could barely breathe.  It was an affront to the millions of people in this nation whose very souls ached at the sight—but more importantly, it was an affront to God.

As I was being publicly mocked for “sheltering” my kids via homeschooling them, the US Department of Education changed their Facebook profile to celebrate what God calls sin. As I have said before, education is never, ever neutral. In Luke 6:40, the Bible teaches us that when a “student is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.” And now, if you dare to disagree with the state teaching your children their version of morality—get ready—you’ll be called hateful.  I can almost guarantee it.  This is the new “tolerance.”

US Dept of Education makes their position on homosexuality clear

 

Listen. Can I just say again that I stand on the word of God? Shoot the messenger if you must, but one day, I’ll stand before the Lord and give an account of my life. I’m clinging to the only thing in this life that is true: the gospel. I have my own sin. I myself am in need of a savior; of His grace. It is ungrace to deny His power and saving grace in my own life. For me to not love other people would be an affront to the One who gave His life for me.  Lord! Help me to love like Jesus loves!

In my grief, I wonder: could it be that these attacks toward anyone who dares to hold to the authority of Scripture betray a deep longing for grace? I believe many who post such things live just beneath a thinly veiled search for grace, a desperate longing to be truly loved. We were created by God and for God … and love is here. Love won at the cross.

Because of the cross, grace is here. The message of the cross is grace; and in the same way I have felt personally wounded, it occurs to me that grace is just that—deeply personal. God’s grace abounds, even now. He rejoices when even one of his lost ones comes home.

Grace baffles those who have never experienced it. The world us the opposite of grace. The world, and unfortunately, the church is known for it’s lack of grace, not for grace. In this context, I understand why one man said I was “just like the Taliban.” He’s never experienced grace.  It’s hard to comprehend why or even how God could extend outstretched arms to us even in our sin. And yet, that’s what He does. He freely offers grace, mercy and forgiveness. He says, “I love you—and you’re wrong.” This is a dichotomy that is almost impossible to comprehend in our world.  Grace, God’s grace, is only free because God has paid the cost.

We cannot stop saying that grace is for everyone anymore than we can stop speaking the truth about sin.

This is the message of the cross: the hope and change this nation is looking for will never be found apart from faith in Jesus. This is where I stand, battle weary and bruised, wearing humbly the criticism that really is aimed at the cross of Jesus Christ. He gave His very life for me. I can do no less than proclaim His love and mercy until He brings me Home.

What I’ve Learned as a Rookie Homeschooler

15 math lessons. 13 reading lessons.  I can hardly believe it.  We’re almost done!  If we go with the sports language, I have almost completed my rookie season of homeschooling.  Rookie year is a wild ride folks.  At least it has been for me.  In September of last year, I sat down one Monday morning with my little people at our awesome little desks in the corner of our living room, with some pretty awesome plans for our year.  I was gonna rock this.  We did some preschool, and I mean, all my sisters homeschool, so it’s not like I haven’t seen it done.  Piece of cake, right?  Ha!  Just like almost every other area of being a momma, this new role of mine has brought me to my knees an awful lot this year.

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I wouldn’t change it for the world, but I’m looking forward to next year even more and the chance to put to use a few of the things I’ve learned along the way this year.

  1. Have a plan. ~ We have had good school weeks, and we have had rough school weeks.  I would say 80% of our rough school weeks start out as my fault.  You know the ones. The weeks when it’s Tuesday afternoon and those books you needed to pick up from the library so you could do science this week are still sitting on their hold shelf, and tomorrow is a full day already, so it’s not looking hopeful! (Or maybe you don’t, in which case you should be the one writing this post!)  The weeks when I am ill prepared to teach these little people of mine are fertile ground for feelings of condemnation and failure, frustration with myself, and poor behavior from my children as I’m trying last minute to print worksheets or find that game I told them we would play.  It’s also the prime time for my printer to decide it hates me, which only escalates my frustration. (Just ask my husband.)  Having papers printed, supplies purchased, and at least a loose plan for the week written down is, for me, most certainly the wise way to approach our school.
  2. Be willing to flex from the plan. ~ Then there is the other side of the coin.  A plan is just that, a plan.  It’s been easy for me to write off the school day when somebody wakes up with a tummy bug for the 5th time, or when the baby has pneumonia for the 3rd time, or when Mommy was at the hospital until 3am with a friend having surgery. (Yes, all these and more have happened in our house this year – craziness.) But what about when you’re halfway through math, and the tensions are rising, or when somebody is misbehaving and being disrespectful during reading?  These situations don’t feel quite as “easy” to put down the school books and really address the heart problems.  Theirs and MINE.  Oh, mine, sweet goodness.  At the end of the day, will He be more glorified if I have allowed disobedience or have trampled on my 6 year old’s heart for the sake of completing a math lesson on time?  I firmly believe that answer is a NO.  This is one of the primary reasons I am homeschooling. To be available and present to address all these heart issues when they happen.  Sometimes that means that lessons are completed later, after heart issues are worked out. Sometimes it means that schoolbooks are shelved until the next day, and we go to the park together to play and love our way back to each other.
  3. Learn about THEM. ~ One evening a few months ago, my daughter was “quizzing” her older brother on some math questions.  At one point, there was a question he didn’t get right away.  I looked over as he covered his eyes with his hands for a bit, then his eyes popped open and with no doubt at all, he yelled the right answer to her.  When I asked him what he was doing with his eyes covered, he told me “Well when I close my eyes I can see my number line, so then I do it just like I do in my book.” Well ok then!  Apparently I have a visual learner on my hands.  This has been helpful as our year has continued, and I can help him use this to his advantage.  I’m so grateful I caught that happening, and have been able to adjust my teaching to this part of my little man.
  4. It’s OK, and GOOD to say NO! ~ This one is fairly simple!  I am not good at saying no. There have been a number of playdates, appointments, requests for help from friends, and other things that have at times interfered with our school days.  Sometimes, this is just fine!  This is an advantage of homeschooling after all.  We’re allowed to have a playdate at 10am when we want to!  It’s awesome.  But there have been other times when I know I should be saying no, but it just doesn’t feel like doing school is a “good enough” reason to do so!  This is just not true.  “We have to do school at that time” is a perfectly good reason to not be available!  I have a responsibility to my children to teach them, and that is one of my primary roles right now.  I am doing them a disservice if I frequently make the needs of others higher than the needs of my children. Thankfully there is no right or wrong for these scenarios, just the need to have wisdom and to walk confidently in what I know is best for our family.
  5. I can’t do this. ~ Wait, what?  You read correctly.  I can’t.  There is no way this momma can homeschool well, cook well, clean, parent the toddler and preschooler, be a friend, go to work, and do all the other things required of me.  Not in my own strength.  There is nothing in ME that is good enough to do all these things.  Thankfully, I don’t have to be good enough!  Because God has given me all that I need in Himself to be the mom, teacher, wife, employee and friend that He has called me to be.  Thank goodness for this.  On our hardest days, this is what I cling to.  Because when I think I am enough, it goes downhill fairly quickly.  Being well aware of my weaknesses is what allows me to be well aware of HIS strength.

What about you?  Are you a new homeschooler?  What are a few things you’ve learned along the way?

Don’t Let Your Youth Pastor Raise Your Kids

There is no substitute for a good parent.

Sweet mom—do you know how important your job is? The questions this generation is asking are big.

They’re soul-altering big.

They’re too big to ignore. I believe the questions this generation is asking will define our culture.

Several years ago, I found this soul-nugget in the book of Luke:

“When a child is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40

Little children who are playing blocks on the kitchen floor will soon be standing on the Senate floor—sent there by another generation of children who are, at this moment, sitting on the laps of their mothers.

Sweet mom, you are in the soul-training business. It's a holy calling. Stay in there. You are doing an eternal work in the lives of your children.

Many years ago, I sat and listened as a tearful mom from a small Illinois town told me a cautionary tale about her daughter. Christian home. Good parents. Church-going. All-the-right-stuff … and her daughter was gone. Anne’s daughter, heavily influenced by a school counselor and deeply entrenched in a community of kids who did not share her family’s faith, had decided to walk away from God, and from everything their family held dear. She moved out shortly before graduating from high school.

… when a student is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.

Anne felt blind-sided.  “We sent her to youth group every Wednesday! She was at every youth event they had! Our youth pastor knew my daughter better than I did! Why didn’t he say something?”

Devastated, Anne struggled with voices that echoed in her soul. She felt the familiar sting of guilt, a favorite tool of the enemy, as it spoke condemnation into her life, carried along by  a cruel consequence of poor choices: regret. Anne regretted not being more involved in her daughter’s spiritual life—but even more than that, she regretting believing that her pastor could take her place in the life of her daughter.

She was telling me a story I had heard many times in my seventeen years as a pastor’s wife—and I share it with you, because I want to speak for your pastor: He wants you to know that he doesn’t want to raise your kids. In fact, he can’t.

Parents, there’s no substitute for being in the Word of God. Your pastor’s job is to rally the troops—to teach, to admonish, to encourage you to do what only you can do: walk with God daily on your own. A youth pastor’s job is to encourage your children toward right thinking and right relationship with God—but he’s no substitute for you. 

I have heard it said that we have “lost” this generation of kids, but I don’t believe it. You don’t just “lose” kids. You lose their parents first. Parents are lost to discouragement, disillusionment and fear—but we must not give in to fear. We can’t simply drop our kids off at school or church and leave the parenting up to others. It is our responsibility alone.  Now is the time. My generation of parents is fully up to bat. We must not fail in teaching our children what it means to live our lives for Christ. We do that by modeling.

Words are not enough.

Our kids need to see us taking God at His Word by being IN His Word. I love my pastor but I don’t want to take his word for God’s Word … I want to read it for myself—and that’s what any pastor worth his salt would want me to do.

Today’s parents need to be in the Word of God. We need to know it. To live it. To teach it to our kids.

The questions that are being asked right now need an answer. Sit down with your kids and take them to God’s Word for the answers.

Sweet tired mom—you are not alone. It’s tiring work, this business of shepherding the next generation. God will give you strength.

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”
Psalm 138:3

This generation of children and young adults need God’s truth in them now more than ever —to be dug down deep, planted in the rich soil of God’s Word. Stay in there. The work is too important to pass off to someone else, even if that someone else is your pastor.

Your work carries eternal significance with it. It carries the weight of glory—the hope of things to come. Your work carries Jesus to the next generation.

 

 

 

 

FREE Spring Printable Pack

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In the pack you will find the following fun activities:

  • Memory Game
  • Handwriting Practice
  • Number Practice (1-20)
  • Letter Practice (Upper-case and Lower-case)
  • Do-A-Dot Fun
  • Size Sorting
  • Coloring Sheets

What you will need to have on hand:

  • Crayons or Markers
  • Do-A-Dot Markers
  • Cardstock (if you prefer to print for durability)
  • A Printer
  • Paper

This is a freebie for subscribers!  Subscribe here and you’ll find the link after confirmation and on each email you receive.

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Enjoy!!

Waiting Until Your Child Is Ready?

Waiting Until Your Child Is Ready

We face a lot of pressure as moms. From the moment our wee one is born we are presented with a variety of options for this tiny bundle that we are now completely responsible for. Will we co-sleep? How about baby wearing? They grow and there are more choices – what will we feed them, how will we dress them, what will we let them watch on tv  (if we let them watch tv at all?!)…

In fact, I don’t think the choices and decisions have slowed down at all. In nearly fifteen years of mothering, the decisions to be made haven’t lessened, they have only changed. Last week it was choosing to “parent teach” driver’s ed and choosing which curriculum to use! The fact remains that we are still, consistently, one hundred percent responsible for these little humans who are ever-growing into little adults.

Often we don’t see the results and benefits of the choices that we make. Sometimes…we do. And it can be so, so sweet. 

As homeschool moms we add a new set of choices and pressures to our already full plate. We feel the pressure for our children to succeed and do well. We have to fight the voices (and possibly the state regulations) that tell us what our children need to know and when they need to know it. Sometimes we know that this child is different or that child isn’t ready and we fight the fear that someone might think less of us, or our child, if they can’t read or write or do math at the right age.

Truly, one of the hardest and best things we can do for a child that isn’t ready for something.. is to simply wait until they are.

I will say it again: Waiting for our children to be mentally, emotionally and physically ready to learn something is better than pushing them too soon. It’s hard, . . . but it’s worth it.

When I taught my oldest daughter to read–well, it was a piece of cake really. She wanted to do it, she was eager, she learned easily. She was reading Dick & Jane and The Cat in the Hat by five years old. She progressed quickly and sped through 2nd and 3rd grade “I can read” books like nobody’s business. In 4th grade she was easily at a 6th grade (or higher) reading level.

{I’m not going to lie; I thought I was pretty good at this. Look at how well my daughter is reading. I’m so proud of her. I did a good job teaching her. Homeschooling for the win!}

You know where this is going don’t you?

That’s right; my second daughter came along and she was completely different. She is wired differently, she learns differently, she has different strengths. Reading wasn’t one of them. It was harder for her and the same approach that I used with my oldest wasn’t working. At all. Every time I pushed, she resisted and backed off.

So we regrouped and tried a different, more hands on approach. We slowed down a little and took things at her pace. Once she saw that she could do it, everything clicked. I saw the light bulb come on and she began reading, too, at age 6. Now, she may not have ever really “fallen behind” but I learned an important lesson at this point. Step 1: Ignore the social pressure. Step 2: What my child needs is a gentle, steady, patient teacher. 

That would be a very important lesson I would need to know, and remind myself of frequently, when my third child came along.

My son, as boys are in many ways, was very different from my two girls. At first he seemed to thrive with letters and numbers and I was t-h-r-i-l-l-e-d when he could identify, name, and write all of his letters by age two. (Thank you very much to Barney and Blues Clues.) I have the cutest video of him sounding out some simple three letter words at age 3 or 4, while eating a popsicle and just looking hands-down-adorable.

And then everything changed.

Reading came to a complete, total, grinding, screeching halt. 

For whatever reason, my son was not mentally and emotionally ready to move on. He could do it, I knew he could. But he wouldn’t. And I was afraid to push too hard for fear of making him hate reading. I reminded myself of what I knew inside-that I could be patient and it would be okay. But he was four then,. . . and there was plenty of time.

And then he was five.
He turned six.
And then seven.
He didn’t. Want. To. Read.

How long is too long? How long are we patient? How long do we wait??

By age seven I was getting questions and comments. I would rebuff them gently and positively. “He will get there,” I’d say, “There’s no hurry.” I would come across articles that would assure me that I was doing the right thing. I had friends who had been there before to encourage me. It’s hard to tell that Mom Worry to keep her voice quiet, though. You still wonder if you are doing the right thing.

As time passed, I just kept to my gentle and steady approach. Lessons were very short and simple. The first sign of frustration signaled the end of the reading lesson. Many days there were no lessons at all. We looked for opportunities to sound out words elsewhere – in the free Lego magazine, on the Sonic menu board, in the Netflix episode list. Any opportunity to read that didn’t ‘look’ like a reading lesson was seized. In the mean time, I was patient. Eventually, like a heavy locomotive slowly coming to motion, the wheels began to turn again. 

At the beginning of one school year, a few months before turning eight, my son stopped arguing as much over his reading lesson. He began to show a little more interest. And the most amazing thing happened. He began to learn and grow again. 

It was beautiful. He had still learned and grown during his years of waiting, because I never backed off entirely, and he could read a lot more than he had allowed himself to realize. But until he was ready to embrace the idea of reading with willingness, he was never able to flourish.

That’s what we were waiting for, that’s what he needed. Once he was ready to move forward with reading he was able to do so with great speed, making up for all the “lost time.” In two years’ time he went from a beginning-of-first-grade reading level to an end-of-third-grade reading level.

Even better: since turning nine my son has shown an increasing desire to read for pleasure.

He takes books with him, he has asked for bigger books to read. I won’t forget the day, only a couple of months ago, when he took a book to church “to read while you practice for worship.” Did he read it? Yes he did. Since then I’ve been finding him with other books and magazines. Only last week he asked me to install the Kindle app on the tablet he worked and saved for, “so I can read books on here, too.” He’s in the middle of Stephen Altrogge’s “The Last Superhero.” My momma heart swells with joy beyond words. My boy reads! He reads well. And he likes it.

So is it worth it to wait until your child is ready? Should we shuck tradition, state standards, and cookie cutter models? Do we ignore the naysayers and the genuinely concerned and press on down a path that looks an awful lot like “doing nothing?” 

Listen, I can’t speak for every child. And I can’t speak into every situation. There may be legitimate learning issues such as dyslexia that is hindering your child that would *need* to be addressed and helped. But I believe whether the child is struggling, or simply not ready, that pushing hinders more than it helps. I believe the best course is to always set sail in the general direction that you want to go, at the speed that your child needs for that time, and let the rest of it go–give it to God. Be gentle, steady, and patient. Slow and steady really does win the race sometimes.

I pray that whatever worries you have for your child, that you able to find peace in the middle of the hard decisions. I pray that while you wait for your child to embrace learning you find strength and hope. I pray that you are renewed and encouraged to not give up but press on. Waiting for our children to be ready to learn is one of the hardest and best things we can do for them.

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(Background Image Credit: Public Domain, George Hodan)

Dear “Anonymous,” I Was That Mom

I wish there was a giant coffee shop where we could all meet once a week. Because if we could meet once a week, I think we would discover that our struggles are very similar. Even though we live in different circumstances and have unique families, our struggles are common struggles.

I received an email from “Anonymous” tonight. She writes:

“I am not sure I want to be a parent some days, much less homeschool. I am very confused…after talking to one mom I want to homeschool, then after talking to one mom I want to do public school again. I am trying to teach my kids using Abeka, but I got very far behind and now am overwhelmed at how much they have missed. I think they are too far behind to be put into public school. I feel horrible that my 5 year old is missing kindergarten and making regular friends. We belong to a church group that meets on Thursdays. It isn’t the same as everyday friends. I am at the end of my rope. Confused, not knowing the right thing to do. I have been praying but don’t see an answer.”

You know, sometimes, I wish there was a giant coffee shop where we could all meet once a week. Because if we could meet once a week, I think we would discover that our struggles are very similar. Even though we live in different circumstances and have unique families, our struggles are common struggles.

Motherhood is challenging. Homeschooling adds a new level to that challenge. I’d love to tell you that there are “5 Easy Steps” to homeschooling or “5 Ways to KNOW” you’ve made the right decision, but there aren’t. However, I can tell you a few things that the Lord has been patiently teaching me over 22 years of parenting. Here are a few of them:

—My family does NOT have to look like ANYONE ELSE’S family. Period. Not in curriculum. Not in parenting. Not in style of dress. Not in the way we eat. We were a unique family. This realization has brought me much freedom—and it is a constant reminder to me of the need I have to be on my knees before the Lord in prayer.

It’s a daily surrender. Sometimes, I must wait for an answer. It rarely comes quickly.

—Whenever I feel “horrible” about a social situation (for example, I might wonder about my children missing out on ‘regular’ school or missing out on a movie that another of their peers was allowed to watch), then it is a sure sign that I am being motivated by guilt rather than being led by the Spirit.

Yes, we need to change our minds sometimes.  But more often than not, this “mommy guilt” is simply unnecessary emotional tyranny. Whenever I am not nourishing my spirit, I open myself up it. Busy mom, give yourself time to think and pray when you feel this tug. Often, a conversation with your husband and time with the Lord will give you the peace you are seeking.

—Curriculum can be a terrible task-master. By this, I mean that if our curriculum is pushing us so hard that we can’t enjoy the learning process, it’s probably time to find another curriculum, or seek to modify the one we are using.  Some moms flourish under curricula like the one you mention. Others have found that a different approach suits them better. Be open to a new approach.

Remember, you’re never as “far behind” as you think you are.  Breathe. Your worst day of teaching  at home is likely better than you judge it to be.  Your investment will go farther than you think it will. It will have an impact for eternity.  So slow down. Build relationships with your children, especially while they are young. It is foundational to who they are going to become.

—Homeschooling should not make you an island.  Find a homeschool co-op or support group. If your church does not have a support system for you, consider finding one that does. We NEED each other. Period. Find your people.

—The growing years are short. Five-year-olds need their mom more than they need a social network. I’m not suggesting that they don’t need friends; far from it! Rather, I’m suggesting that YOU need friends, too. Find moms who have children of similar ages. Plan play dates and go to the library and zoo together.  This will give you and your child a social outlet.

Finally, plant with the harvest in mind.  What do you want to see in your adult children? I know it’s hard to imagine at this stage, but in just a few short years, if you persevere, you will be encouraging a mom who is where you are right now.

I know. I was that mom.

The best homeschooling advice I ever received from another mom had very little to do with an action. It was about an attitude.  She encouraged me to be confident in who God has called me to be.  

So let me encourage you: Be real. Love your kids. Teach them. Be flexible. Be honest. Find support. Trust that the results of the investment you are making will be worth the sacrifice.  And then, commit yourself to becoming the wife and mother you were created to be.

Be encouraged! You can do it. You’ve already been equipped.

In Psalm 16, verse 8, David writes, “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

This is the key. If you know that God has called you to homeschool your children, then He has already equipped you for the job. Don’t be shaken. Keep trusting. You’re His, and He’ll never let you go.

Heidi St John Guide to Daylight