When Your Homeschool Year Starts Off Crazy

When Your Homeschool Year Starts Out Crazy

We started our homeschool year last week.  It went great.

For one day.

Then the crazies came to visit.  Interruptions.  Crisis.  Family stuff.  Business stuff.

Something inside me knew it was coming.  Every year it seems that something stops me from getting off to that great start that I’d dreamt of during those long uninterrupted periods of planning over the summer.

And then it happens – friends begin sharing their awesome back-to-homeschool photos and experiences on my beloved Facebook page.  This is when it starts to get ugly inside my head.

Why, after 20 years of homeschooling can’t I figure this out?  I encourage moms all summer long as a speaker at homeschool conventions!  Shame on me!  Guilt. Condemnation.  Discouragement.  I told you it was ugly.

One thing this long haul of homeschooling has taught me  is that my God is faithful.  I may be discouraged but I do not despair.  2 Corinthians 4:8  “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not despairing.”

I head to the bathroom – many a busy mom’s prayer closet – and pour out my heart to God.  He is the only one to go to.  Only He knows why.  There is no logical reason for my failure.  I know how to plan and organize a homeschool.  Only He has the answers for my aching heart.

As usual – I felt the Lord’s peace and presence.  There is no shame or condemnation here.

I have peace, yet there is this part of me that hurts. That is when God reminds me that the pain I’m feeling is the idol I insist on making out of my kids’ education being torn down.  God wants His best for me and my kids and that’s not going to happen if I insist on getting in the way.

Coming from a long line of highly educated people, God knew my propensity for making academics an idol.  He has blessed me with 7 kids with dyslexia to make sure that never happens.

But I still try.

I still want to teach every thing.  Teach it well.  Finish every page.  Have my kids get A’s on all the tests.

And I still want my first week of school to go well.  Is that too much to ask?

God is telling me that my homeschool is for His glory not for mine.

Honestly, looking back over my 20 years of homeschooling, I see so clearly that God has removed my signature from the lives of my kids.  Sure I’ve loved them and fed them and done my best to faithfully shepherd them alongside my husband, but their successes are nothing about me – nothing but evidence of God’s amazing grace.

Every year I try to pick up the reigns again and make homeschooling and parenting about me – about what I can give and do and create out of these kids.

But, however much I want to be in control:

It is God that knitted them together in my womb. (Psalm 149)

God who has created them with purpose – since before the foundation of the world.  (2 Timothy 1:8-9)

It is God that causes them to will and to work for His purposes. (Philippians 2:13)

Freshly humbled, I am able, once again, to let go of my grip and let my ideals, my plans and my purposes go.

It’s a little scary and exciting all at once.  Shouldn’t that be how it is when we walk with the living God?

If you are struggling with the back to school crazies, may I encourage you with the encouragement that I myself have received?

The baby is the lesson.  Most of my homeschooling days have been filled with babies and toddlers in arms and under foot.  Even though my youngest is now five and a very enjoyable, mostly rational young fellow – I have grandkids!  When the babies and toddlers are distracting you from your plans, remember that the baby is the lesson.  Relax and enjoy them and show your older kids (who could otherwise be doing Math or English) that babies are a treasure.  Show them how to love and enjoy that noisy, messy toddler.  Mercy, kindness, compassion, service – that is the lesson for the day.

God is your Headmaster.  We can plan and research all summer long but remember what the God has to say about the plans of man.  “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

It’s not about you.  I know this is uncomfortable.  Believe me.  I know!  Our homeschools are not for our glory.  Look how quickly we finished our studies.  Look at how well my kids did at the spelling bee.  Look at all the great hands on projects we’ve completed.  Although there is nothing wrong with these things, they are not why we homeschool.  We homeschool to raise kids to love and serve God and each other.  Academic pursuits must be second to spiritual tasks.

God is faithful, Mama.  If life is looking a little crazy today, step back and seek the One who has numbered your days.  There is rest in knowing that He is perfectly aware of how much English you finished today and you are right where He wants you.  And when others see your homeschool, though they don’t see a Pinterest perfect mama, they will see a family that is being perfected by what God is doing in their lives.


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Marianne Sunderland has been married to her husband, Laurence, since 1991. She is a homeschooling mother of eight lively children ages 3 to 22. Marianne is passionate about encouraging families to discover and nurture their children’s God-given gifts and talents, in and outside of the classroom. She also encourages women to joyfully love and serve their families. Her varied experiences homeschooling through difficult times and with kids who learn differently has taught her much about learning how to trust fully in God for her family and homeschool. Marianne’s blog, Abundant Life, provides weekly articles on faith, family and homeschooling that will bless and encourage you.

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8 Responses to When Your Homeschool Year Starts Off Crazy

  1. Noelle says:

    Thank you for this great post! Our year started out better than normal but quickly got crazy with my husband’s work commitments and upcoming short deployment….this post helped me with the guilt I have felt for “dropping the ball” on school. The emotions, preparations and time together before he goes are our lesson!

    And my demanding PRECIOUS little one year old – I have work to do in me about her noisy,messy little interruptions.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • Our kids are learning all the time. Even if we only teach a fraction of what we had hoped in a week, our kids are still learning and the life skills they are mastering are so incredibly valuable. Many of my older kids’ friends who are not homeschooled are sorely lacking in what we consider everyday skills for our homeschooled kids. Blessings to you!

  2. Kate Lantry says:

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear. We started our school year in early August and made it through one week. Since then our household has been filled with illness. Colds, respiratory infections, and my fibromyalgia flares have kept at least one of us down if not all four of us. I’ve been feeling like a homeschool failure and been stressed on top of sick (which makes my Fibro worse! ). Thank you for reminding me of who is truly in charge of our days and plans and schedules. God bless you and yours :-)

    • Heidi says:

      Hang in there, Kate! God will use the things that make you weak to show His strength! ((hugs))

    • I cannot even begin to count the number of our school days that have been interrupted by sickness, business needs and just everyday emergencies. I would hasten to say that there were more of those than the ‘good’ days! Focusing on relationships with each other and with God really is a powerful thing – academics will come. Thanks for commenting, Kate. God bless!

  3. Angeline says:

    We haven’t done a lot of bookwork since “school”started this September, so what have we done? An actual family holiday, visited the Royal Tyrell museum in Drumheller, Alberta, and the Creation Science Museum in Big Valley, Alberta. We learned what is the best way to debate and present our arguments and viewpoints, and what is an oppositional way to do that. We have done some bookwork and a lot of our harvest/fall chores. Today my 12 and 13 yr old boys are helping renovate our church with their grandfather, so what are they learning? So much more than a book can ever teach them. So much more! My older two are graduated and working, and my 15 yo is sitting beside me in the coffee shop writing. What is she learning? How to use her time wisely, and how to write. She also is dyslexic and math challenged but, oh so smart! Full of stories and thoughts, wisdom and love. Sigh of relief. I needed to read your post today and remember that God is in control. My kids are His first and forever.I am simply his servantof love to them.

  4. Amy says:

    L-O-V-E this. Amen! This is my year every year it seems! I cannot help but notice you said grandkids..?!?! You and Heidi need to post your anti-aging secrets at some point!

  5. Ann-Marie says:

    Thank you SO much for this, Marianne!
    I cannot begin to tell you how much this touches my heart right now. We usually have a wonderful start to our homeschool year, but, this year has been inside out and upside down to say the least. We keep plugging along though by His grace and pray alot during the day and am learning that it is His will in His time that will be done. This has been a learning experience for all of us 😉 Praying and staying close to God makes it all beautiful…even the ugly beautiful days show a little beauty at the end! Thank you :)

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