This week I am going to spend a little time talking about homeschooling.
As a veteran homeschool mom and over 13 years of experience, I thought I would share with you some tips I have learned along the way. As a family, we have chosen to homeschool to provide a Christian education and worldview to our children as we shepherd and disciple them. I know many of you are planning and preparing for the next school year or will be starting soon so I wanted to give a few words of encouragement as reminders, so let's begin:
1. Jesus Christ must be center. We need to know that the purpose of educating is not to gain accolades from the world or gaining riches or honors to impress but instead the most important thing--educating our children as godly seed that will one day bring glory to Him. He is the center of why we learn and all education stems out from there. He also is the head of our school and we bring all our needs and desires to His feet.
2. Pray, pray, pray. What curriculum should we use? How do we schedule their day? What outside activities will we participate in? Prayer covers all this and with this we can receive true answers that are best for our own family.
3. Be flexible. We all love to plan and buy curriculum but we must remember to stay flexible. When I first started out I thought I had to complete workbooks from beginning to end while doing every problem--that was a rigid one-way track to burn out (and all the homeschool mothers said--amen!). Now I know better and will design a lesson around what we need to know, not what the book curriculum designers dictate that I do with my children. Also, if a book is not working for you, don't ever be afraid to toss it and replace it--you'll be glad you did!
4. Stop comparing. It is so easy to look around at other homeschooling families and compare (everything from homeschool methods, to instruments children play, or even what the children wear!) Try not to compare! I have seen moms get discouraged feeling as though they couldn't handle homeschooling and then eventually throwing in the towel for this very reason. The comparison game will only get you feeling down and putting more stress and pressure on your homeschool that God did not intend or perhaps feeling smug that you have it more together than another mom.
5. Plan and yet be willing to throw your plans out the window. I always recommend planning---and while I used be a fierce list planner as a young mom, I have since learned to plan loosely and allow God to direct our days. If a days schedule gets thrown out the window because of life--then as moms we need to truly be okay with that. Remember, there is always tomorrow. Homeschool moms need not to be so hard on themselves.
6. Laugh, cherish and have fun. I cannot emphasize this enough. Sometimes we get so serious about homeschooling that we can forget about experiencing the joy that comes with it (wouldn't Satan just love to rob us of this?). Your children need to know they have a happy mom who is willing to have fun and laugh with her children (and sometimes at herself!). I know we will not always be joyous all the time, but we do need to remember that a smile will bless our children and encourage them. We also need to view the broader spectrum of homeschooling and enjoy the blessing of each day and each lesson.
7. Take a break. Sometimes we need to step back and evaluate. Are we doing too much? Too little? Do we need to get back our focus and perspective? Add some fun into our school? Wise mamas need to know it is okay to take a break sometimes. It is perfectly okay to take a step back and refocus if the end result is moving several steps forward.
8. Choose the best. Don't outdo yourself by joining every sport, club, homeschool group event, etc. Slow down! If we are always on the go, we cannot effectively homeschool or shepherd our children. Be wise were you invest your best energies or your homeschool will suffer. Our family places a special emphasis on family time at home so we can strengthen and build the relationships there. We know that with more things pulling at our schedule will mean less time for the things that really matter to us.