I held my breath as the irrepressible urge to heave the books across the room overcame me. I hadn’t seen this coming. Drowning in lesson plans, dishes, laundry, and writing deadlines, I convinced myself that I should quit homeschooling. I wasn’t qualified to instruct my children on the Ancient Greeks, Latin, or Algebraic formulas. Nevermind touching Shakespeare or Plutarch. After all, I never had a classical education myself, so how I could possibly give them one?
As the desire to give up began to evolve into reality, angry eyes met water-filled eyes across the cluttered table and I froze. Guilt flooded my heart, mind, and soul. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. That moment when you realize you’ve deeply wounded a little heart is almost unbearable.
Confession time. No parent on earth is doing it perfectly. If we’re honest, we’d say that we’ll never parent perfectly. However, there are some truths we can claim to equip us in the call to teach and train our children.
Reclaiming the Call
In Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The Lord had called me to homeschool my children and He promised to equip me with everything I needed; even if I was not classically educated. I was their mother; that was enough.
As parents, the Lord calls us to teach our children for His honor and glory. Part of teaching is admitting our shortcomings and using the tools we’re given for the task as we help them do the same.
In Deuteronomy, God instructs the Israelites to teach their children from the time they rise until they go to bed (Deuteronomy 11). This command goes far beyond academic instruction. As parents, we’re called to teach and display the character of God to our children. That is a daunting task! However, He has equipped us with this precious Word and His strength that enables us to do so. What has He called you to do?
Revisit the Why
The day I almost quit homeschooling was a good day. We are not a perfect people. We are going to FAIL. Our children need to see that. When that happens, they can witness the beautiful redemption of grace that accompanies the failure.
Our failures are not a surprise to God. I teach and train my children because God has called me to do so. As parents, we guide our children to truth in all areas of life. Why? Because God has called us to. That is why we keep going. We are called.
Retrain Your Mind
Whether I’m homeschooling or not, my children are watching me all day long. I’m always teaching them. Learning never stops. I know that I need to be equipped to train them and I cannot accomplish that on my own. In her book, The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise-Bauer puts “uneducated” fears to rest as she squashes the myth I held. Like myself, Bauer did not receive a classical education in her early years.
As I read these words from a highly respected woman, I realized that God gave me the ability to learn. By hiding behind what I “don’t have”, I’m not utilizing the tools that are already before me. In short, I’m refusing to give God my brain, heart, and imperfections.
Again, we are not a perfect people. It’s good to let our children see that. On the other side, we should seek after wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) so we can instruct our children in the way of the Lord. That means teaching them the ways of Ancient Greece, Geometry, Poetry, and yes, Latin.
Remember the Priorities
Isn’t it tough to prioritize? This is often a difficult task for me. Dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, and laundry often find their way to the top of the “To-Do” list. When this happens, I find that my temperament is short with my children and I’m unfocused.
While taking care of the home is a Gospel-oriented task, the souls of children are as well. I believe they are even more so. So what happens when we homeschool, work from home, and have all the housework to accomplish?
- Get into God’s Word. I know I find life “foggy” when I’m not reading the Word. We can’t present God to our children if we aren’t dwelling on Him ourselves.
- Take a step back and re-orient. Make a mental (or written) list of priorities and highlight the most important one.
- We will have rough days. When this happens, keep lessons short and sweet and do what you can.
- Pick up some books and read to your children. There is something unifying when you gather your children around you for a good story.
- Go outside and play! Learning happens outside of books too!
The way we prioritize looks different in every home. Do what God leads you to do.
Stop Doing It All
Sometimes we feel that as parents, we have to do it all in order to “do it right.” This is an interesting thought. When did it become all about doing the things? Doing more doesn’t make us better parents or teachers for our children. In fact, the more we do, the less impact we have because it’s impossible to do it all.
Choose the most important ways to train and educate your children and let God use that purpose and intention to draw you and your children to Him.