Do you ever wish you could sit with someone who has been homeschooling for awhile and get a little advice from a wiser, older woman? And I’m not necessarily talking about wisdom regarding curriculum, although that is very helpful as well. But sometimes the more important issues have to do with the heart. Recently I talked with Shirley, a woman whom I have had the privilege of being discipled by for many years. In fact, she was very influential in my decision to homeschool in the first place. Towards the end of our conversation, I asked Shirley what advice she would share with other homeschooling moms. She imparted three things that she believes are of utmost importance for life, not only for homeschooling parents. I believe they are three tips to becoming a better homeschooling mom.
Tip #1 Keep Life Relational, Not Just Academic
Homeschooling (and parenting in general) is so much more than correcting our kids’ outward behavior or checking kids’ work. Our primary role as parents is shepherding their hearts, wisely dealing with heart issues and attitudes as we disciple them daily.
Sometimes working on heart issues can seem like such a distraction and deterrent to their education and your teaching. We spend time creating lesson plans. And we want to get through them. It feels good to check them off the list.
However, we need to remember that one of the reasons we homeschool is the privilege of sharing all of life with our children, which often requires “a recalculating” of priorities while dealing with heart attitudes, both theirs and ours.
Keep pointing your kids to Christ. Keep shepherding their little hearts. You are raising up the next generation (Psalm 78:5-7) and want their hearts ready to face life with confidence in the Lord.
If it takes re-doing your lesson plans for the week, it’s worth it. It is not so easy, though, I know. I like to get everything done. I don’t want my plans interrupted. But that is part of the beauty and freedom of homeschooling. We can stop to take the time to address heart issues. And guess what…your lesson plans will eventually get done. Just not on your time frame. That’s when you have to truly surrender your plans to the Lord and let Him guide your days. When you can maintain an eternal perspective, it helps those days feel not so unproductive.
Take time to enjoy your kids too. Your time with them will go by so quickly. They will remember the heart to heart relationship they share with you. And that alone can help prepare them for the world ahead of them.
Tip #2 Be Intentional
Make room for things that are truly important. It helps to ask yourself, “what is my purpose in homeschooling?” and, “how will I achieve that?” Take time to ponder your answers. And maybe go back to those questions throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to “recalculate” and make changes as needed to readdress your goals and refocus your energies. I know I need to do this. If I’m not careful, I can let the curriculum dominate and structure my days. And while that can be helpful to a certain extent, I don’t want it to run our lives.
What I have found helpful is prayerfully setting yearly goals for myself and each of my kids. Then, throughout the year I will review those goals to see what needs to be adjusted and how we are doing. These goals can be academic, social, spiritual, life skills, physical, etc. They can help keep you on track throughout the year.
For example, if one of your purposes in homeschooling is that your kids will know God and love Him, then you need to let Him be known. Talk about Him in each subject you teach. Make Him real as you respond to challenges and untimely inconveniences. Your kids need to see Him in you. Repentance is a big one. As moms, none of us gets it right all the time. Let’s face it, we are sinners raising and teaching sinners! But, when our kids see our hearts truly repentant, they get to see God at work in our hearts. We model for them what to do when they sin.
Also, be intentional about your time with the Lord. Make it a priority in your day. It is easy to get up and start running with your day. But when you take even a few moments to reflect on the Word and spend time with God, your day will go that much smoother (for at least a few moments!). While circumstances won’t change, your heart attitude about them can.
Finally, be intentional with your days. Have a plan for each school day. And like I mentioned above, it might not go exactly as planned, but you need a plan or you will end up wasting precious time. I heard a pastor once say, “Plan in pencil,” referring to James 4:13-15. I will always remember that. While it is good to have a plan, realize that God may completely rearrange and change your plans. When that happens it can be frustrating. But we can trust the sovereignty and goodness of the Lord in the midst of it. Yet without a plan, your day can escape you. Being intentional with your days can help your purposes be fulfilled.
Tip #3 Remember Your Life is Not Your Own
Christ’s example of humility is laid out for us so clearly in Philippians 2:3-8,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This was a verse that spoke to me when I was considering homeschooling. While I don’t believe homeschooling is the only “right” way to educate your children, I knew God was calling our family to it. And yet, for selfish reasons, I was reluctant. My friend and mentor shared her mantra with me then and again now, “my life is not my own.” Christ gave His life for us and set the example for us to follow.
So, for example, you are excited about attending a field trip and yet your kids are acting out and not responding to your correction and discipline that morning. You know it’s in their best interest to stay home and learn to live with each other or to just get needed rest. But you were really looking forward to spending some time with the other moms at the field trip, and so were your kids. We have to make that choice that we know is the right one, regardless of how we feel about it.
The Application is Not Easy
Dying to oneself does NOT come easy. But when we remember our life is not our own and the example Christ set for us, it can motivate us and hopefully will become a little easier.
I hope these little tips to becoming a better homeschooling mom will help you this year. I know none of these is easy. Let’s encourage one another on our journeys.
Here are some additional posts that you might find helpful:
- Six secrets to maintaining your sanity while homeschooling
- When homeschooling gets tough: 6 important reminders
- Four great homeschooling resources you won’t want to miss
Have a tip to add? I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below and let me know what has been helpful to you in your homeschooling.