Just imagine you are in the grocery store today and a young mom with a toddler in her grocery cart approaches you.
“Is it a holiday?” she asks.
“Excuse me?” You turn to her, surprised.
“Is it a holiday? Is that why your kids are here at the grocery store instead of at school?”
“We homeschool.” You offer a small smile.
“Why on earth would you do that?” The woman’s eyes are wide, then she chuckles. “That didn’t sound right. I’m not trying to be rude, I really want to know. My neighbor three houses down homeschools too, and I’ve always been curious.” She points to her toddler. “I’ve been hoping to find someone to ask. He is getting older and I wonder if it’s something I should consider.”
You take a deep breath and then begin. You talk about:
:: your faith;
:: quality time with your kids;
:: protecting your children from unhealthy influences;
:: tailoring the schoolwork to meet your child’s learning style;
:: doing life together;
:: imparting truth and morals on the future generation;
:: and 101 other reasons you feel called to this task.
The woman nods, listens, and smiles. “It sounds like the perfect life. I might talk to my husband about homeschooling.”
Homeschooling does sound really good when you explain it like that, but sometimes you may wonder if you’re really living the dream. There is an unsettled feeling in the pit of your gut. What you live isn’t the same as the ideals you spout.
Your beliefs have led you to homeschool, and you’re pretty sure that’s what God’s asking you to do. You can talk the talk, but sometimes you doubt if you’re fulfilling what you set out to do. I can relate.
As homeschooling parents, we want to train our children to know God, love Him, and serve Him, but the truth is we spend more time stressing over algebra problems and searching for missing library books. We want family members to enjoy each other, but who ever said sibling arguing, parental nagging, and family weariness was enjoyable?
For most of my homeschooling years I felt like I was missing it. I was certain everyone else was doing a better job than me. I didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I was overwhelmed with the idea of doing more. I wanted to spend time each day teaching my children about God and the Bible, but that often got pushed to the side as we ran to sporting practices or homeschooling events.
In his book Let Your Life Speak, author Parker J. Palmer says, “I lined up the loftiest ideals I could find and set out to achieve them. The results were rarely admirable, often laughable, and sometimes grotesque. But always they were unreal, a distortion of my true self—as must be the case when one lives from the outside in, not the inside out. I had simply found a ‘noble’ way to live a life that was not my own, a life spent imitating heroes instead of listening to my heart.”
I can relate. The heroes I was trying to mimic were the other homeschooling moms who seemed so creative, dedicated, and academic. Or the homeschoolers I read about in magazines and in books.
Thankfully God didn’t see my futile, frustrating years and give up on me as a homeschooling teacher. He was gentle, speaking to my heart and reminding me that I needed to stop looking around. Stop comparing.
Instead, I needed to look to Him. I needed to understand how He made me, how He made my kids, and what His perfect design was for our homeschooling life. As my kids grew in wisdom and stature (and in the ability to know the multiplication tables) I began to understand I needed to do things a different way. I needed to homeschool from the heart out.
:: Homeschooling is not about being overwhelmed by the “studies,” but rather focusing on God’s plan for my family.
:: Homeschooling is realizing God’s love for this world and seeing ourselves as part of the community of believers who will impact generations.
:: Homeschooling is about using an eternal perspective to guide when we say yes, and when we say no.
Are you thinking about homeschooling? Pray that God will bring someone into your life who can help you get started, and who can encourage you along the way.
Are you already homeschooling and feel as if you’re falling short? Turn to God and seek His truth—the Truth. Ask Him to give you His eternal perspective and depend on His strength day by day. He didn’t get you started on this journey just to abandon you along the way. He has a good plan … His perfect plan for your family.