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
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.