Hey Mama, You Have What it Takes to Teach Your Own
Writing this post has been in my mind and heart for the last several years. The only think I have lacked in actually getting it done is time! But as I awoke early this morning, I thought “I’m just going to do it!”
When people find out that I homeschool, I often get a similar response: “Oh, I could never do that! I don’t have enough patience!” or “My kids fight too much!” or “I would go nuts being around my kids that much!” While homeschooling may not be a possibility for everyone due to their personal circumstances, my purpose in writing this is to say “Hey Mama, you have what it takes to homeschool your own! You are better equipped than you think you are!” I want to give a hug of support and encouragement to any mother out there who has considered it but then has had a wave of fear run over her for one reason or another.
No one, NO ONE is better equipped to teach your own children than YOU! I want to repeat this: no one is better equipped to teach your children than you! No one can adequately take your place. God gave you your children for a reason, and he trusts you with them! No teacher out there is as vested in your children as you. Homeschooling really is just an extension of parenting and allows parents the opportunity to know their children on a whole new level: how do they learn? What kind of character are they building? Where is there heart? What are their strengths? In what areas are they weak? What are their dreams? Homeschooling is one of the most meaningful ways parents can invest in their children. It communicates love through making the investment of time it requires!
Homeschooling requires a paradigm shift. We have been trained to think we have children, they are at home until they are five or so, then it’s time to send them off and spread their wings! To be truthful, this thought process makes me cringe! At five years old, a child’s character and heart is just beginning to take shape, and the normal thing is to send them off at such a tender point in their development?! To be lumped in with 25 peers who will teach them how to look, think, and feel about themselves and the world? Yikes!! I know there are many wonderful teachers out there in school systems. I personally know many! But I also think there are a lot of mediocre ones, and even the best, the most loving teachers out there have got to admit there are some serious limits to their capacity to spend adequate one-on-one time with a group of over 20 six-year-olds. We have been taught to think that only those who have been professionally trained to teach should teach. Not so! You have what it takes: a love for your child and a desire to take part in what I consider to be the greatest work out there!
We are trained to think that we raise our children until they are school aged, then we send them off. And then we are free! This also makes me cringe. I understand that everyone is in different circumstances with their financial ability to stay home with their children (I will address my thoughts on that later in this post), but if you are able and have a desire to do it, I encourage you to jump in and bring your children home! Age 5 or 6 is really just a starting point—not an ending point— for a parent’s opportunity to nurture and help shape children in so many ways.
I don’t have the patience to homeschool my children! Let me begin by saying I am no saint when it comes to always having patience or whatever other Heavenly virtue! But homeschooling has definitely given me an increased capacity to roll with the punches of the day, to be creative in how we do things, and to just truly savor the simple, sweet experiences we have together! I have been known to take my own time out! Every once in a while, I’ve had it, so I close my bedroom door, go lay down on my bed, or even go eat some chocolate by myself! I’m telling you, it works. I come back refreshed and ready, and so do my children!
And as for complaining and whining (which I detest wholeheartedly) we still have that. One of my sons in particular is going through a whining phase right now. I have him drop down and do push-ups or jumping jacks whenever he starts the whining/complaining cycle, and you know what? It does wonders! Totally breaks the thing and we move forward with today (not to mention getting some good exercise in the process)!
One of the beauties of homeschooling is that it helps us work through problems and differences immediately—rather then letting them fester. My children know if their feelings are hurt, they come talk to me, and we work through it—rather than letting things build up and me not know about it until it reaches explosión point. Working through feelings and interpersonal conflict is a natural and healthy part of life, and it is a natural part of homeschooling. I love that we get to talk about these things with each other openly rather than find out years later about problems that were masked or swallowed back at school and deal with repercussions that sometimes don’t manifest themselves until it’s morphed into complex emotional issues that are sometimes difficult to unravel and heal. Sending children away does not eliminate interpersonal problems and conflicts—it just hides them.
Curriculum matters. I am not neutral on curriculum content at all! A secular education (especially during the formative years) can no where near replace or even compare to a faith-based curriculum. Shaping young minds and hearts (which really is what an education is for children) is such an important stewardship. I feel like one of the best things we can do as parent educators is to talk about God often. Share about Him when we talk about science, art, math, everything! Doing so brings an unmatched light and Spirit into learning. Doing so brings a depth no secular education can even begin to approach. And doing so helps each child form his or her own relationship with Father in Heaven—a relationship that is imperative in order to confront the challenges of life that surely come to everyone.
If you think homeschooling looks neat but have no idea about which curriculums are good, please email me. I won’t discuss them here but am happy to offer suggestions to anyone who would like them. There are so many amazing choices available that make homeschooling such a beautiful and relatively preparation-free experience! And many of them are relatively inexpensive. My personal opinion is that parents could give their children a world-class education very little resources as long as those resources are high quality and as long as those resources include scripture (more on the importance of getting children into scripture at a later time).
Elizabeth, I would love to homeschool my children, but financially, I can’t! Or I’d love to homeschool, but my spouse is not on board. What can I do? I know there are many in these situation. Growing up I wasn’t homeschooled, but I had wonderful parents who taught us tremendous lessons about being entrepreneurs and working hard! My mom was home with my older brothers and I until I was about 6. Then she needed to return to work. But she wanted to spend more time with us, so she started her own business in retail sales and she began teaching lessons in our home. Growing up my little sister and I spent a lot of time in her store and joined in on her lessons most of the time. What an experience that was! She didn’t homeschool me, but she (and my dad) gave me all they had in terms of rich experiences. I remember being young and going on Tuesday Tour Day with my dad where he would walk through new home listings as well. To this day, I love real estate and enjoy dabbling in buying and selling whenever we can! I remember being with my mom as fabric salesmen would come with large trunks of beautiful fabric and pulling through them and discussing fabric content and design and selecting which ones to buy. I remember my mom pulling out her Franklin planner and sketching her own clothing designs. I remember helping her set up displays and different marketing campaigns as well as calculating profits. My parents gave us what they had and sought to include us everywhere possible, and I am so grateful to them! What an amazing experience!
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you see eye-to-eye on everything! And maybe you’d love to homeschool, but your spouse opposes the idea. This is another tough circumstance. I feel like finding a good balance in your marriage is important, so I don’t think homeschooling is worth a war in a marriage. Not by a long shot! However, God always hears the prayer of the heart—especially when it is a mother or father’s prayer for their children. So don’t give up! You can find creative and wonderful opportunities to create homeschool moments even if it’s not a full time thing.
My point in sharing all of this is that is that parents can find creative ways to homeschool even if they don’t stay home with their children all day everyday. And I firmly believe that if you have a sincere desire to homeschool but are frustrated by circumstances that don’t allow you to at the moment, you can pray for creative inspiration on how to do it! The longer I live, the more familiar I become with the Lord’s creative approach to problem solving/solution finding. And prayer and faith open the door to it all!
I hope what I’ve shared here is inspiring to you in your family’s homeschool pursuits.