I’m married to my best friend and together we are raising our tribe of ten children. People seem to think that I have some sort of super power that enables me to help guide this large tribe. But I’m not wonder woman. I have a few secrets….
I lose my temper, I second guess my ability to educate my children, and I have failed at the simple things...like taking something out of the freezer for dinner. There are moments that we barely contain the chaos. Yet, we persevere with this crazy lifestyle called homeschooling.
So how does one get up every morning, teach algebra to a less than thrilled teen, potty train a toddler while hoping that the health department doesn’t show up and shut your “school” down- due to the dog poop that apparently NO ONE in the entire house noticed? By keeping the end in mind...your harvest.
Now, grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk about a few more secrets….
1. You don’t have to do it all! Your kids will be successful if they can read, write, and do basic math. There have been school days that I have felt on top of the world...we completed cool projects, my kids were engaged, and we had fun. And then we have had those moments that I was just happy that we ended the day with all children alive and the house had not burned down. Remember, just keep your eye on the goal!
2. Just Quit! There are many good things out there...art classes, co-ops, sports, youth group, 4H, and so much more. But just because it might be a good thing, it does not mean that it will be best for your family. To homeschool successfully you will need to be home. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many activities. Spend time praying, talking with your spouse, and decide together what you can handle. For our family, this has changed over the years...it keeps life interesting.
3. Lower your expectations. This is so hard for me! I want my house to be spotless, for my kids to LOVE homeschooling, to be an amazing wife, all while being the loving Pastor’s wife, running a homeschool co-op and working a full time job. But it’s simply not possible! I have learned that some things have to give...I am not perfect. Therefore, I have to have balance. It’s something that I pray for everyday.
4. Be flexible. I am a planner by nature. I love to get my new school year planner and, with all our new books laying all around me, drink coffee and plan, plan, plan. But here is my secret...I make our school year goals and plan our monthly goals. I NEVER write out details. It’s too frustrating when things don’t go my way! I leave room for crabby kids, sick days, and just LIFE.
5. Don’t compare! Comparing your homeschool and the learning of your children to other homeschool families will zap your joy and peace. All of my children learn differently. As a mother, I cannot compare them. God has a unique plan for each of their lives. Not all of your children will be an academic genius. Some will go to college, while others may join the workforce or attend a technical school.
6. Ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. I have learned so much by gleaning from other homeschool moms, listening to Podcasts, and reading blogs and books. This lifestyle can overwhelm the new homeschool mom. Get connected with other moms. Join a co-op for support. You can do it!
7. Power of Prayer! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a daily prayer time. Spend time asking God to direct your homeschool journey, to anoint your teaching, to give your children teachable spirits, and to bless your marriage.
Looking back over the 20 plus years that I’ve traveled this homeschool road I am in awe of God’s faithfulness. When we trust the Lord through obedience to His Word we find a peace that will pass all understanding. I have failed, fell flat on my face, and yet the Lord has been gracious to pick me up again. I remember wondering if my daughter would ever learn to control her emotions or if my son would ever read. I think of the days of fussy toddlers, morning sickness that lasted all day, and financial struggle. But Walter and I kept plugging along, against great criticism from those around us and doubt in ourselves. We knew that God had spoken very clearly to us the direction for our children. And it is that belief that has given us the courage and strength to focus on our vision...and keep our eye on the harvest.