The Truth About Homeschooling

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.

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4 thoughts on “The Truth About Homeschooling

  1. Tricia,
    I can totally hear your heart through this post, and because so many of my friends and family members do homeschool, I know that they’ve often felt the way you described in the grocery store or around town. I think the only thing I would add, as a passionate, intentional mom to 3 public school kids, is that families who don’t (or can’t) homeschool also want to do the last three things you listed in this post. We also work toward those same goals, by God’s grace and with his help.

    A challenge for me recently has been feeling some pressure from the Christian community that “if you really want to raise kids for Christ”… or “if you really …” And though I’m not hearing that from you (thank you), I’d like to add a sentiment of caution to the homeschool conversation. I want our family to impact generations, too! …and I think we can do that despite our school choices.

    I recently appeared on Midday Connection’s “Millrose Club” to discuss this very issue and how it can be divisive in the Christian community. I wonder if you’ve heard other moms expressing these thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

    http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=92117

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    • Jane, thank you so much for your input! I really appreciate it. You’re absolutely right, ANY family can follow those three things I mentioned at the end of my blog. I know God calls some people to homeschool, some to private school, and some to public school. I love that He has a unique plan for each of us. It’s so easy for us to think that God’s call for us is His call for everyone. If we had a 1, 2, 3 plan of how to raise kids and get it right then we wouldn’t need God, would we. Thank you for sharing!!

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  2. Thank you for these encouraging words. We are just starting our homeschool journey with our 5 year old daughter. We are excited, we know that it will not be easy… and I am praying I can keep my focus on God’s heart for our family, for our precious little girl. I want to have a right balance on the scholastic aspect of her education, knowing it’s importance… but I don’t want it to overshadow her spiritual growth, the gifts God has given her, the plan God has for her. Your words gave vocabulary to thoughts in my heart… and encouraged me so much!!

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