“I don’t wanna be homeschooled and you’re NOT gonna make me!”
These were my oldest daughter’s first words to me when we began homeschooling kindergarten 10 years ago. Our first day of homeschool was complete misery, and unfortunately, things didn’t get any better the second day or the third. In fact, teaching my beloved daughter anything she didn’t want to learn for the first 6 weeks of my homeschooling career was quite a challenge.
My daughter had a very romanticized view of traditional schooling, and being very independent even then, was looking forward to marching off to school on her own each day. She was convinced that my husband and I were keeping her from something wonderful by not letting her go off to school.
I was ready to give up right away. My husband kept saying, “It’s only your first week; things will get better.” “You’ve only been doing this for a month; things will get better.” At the time my children were ages 5, 3, 1 & 1/2, and I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest. Needless to say, I was stressed out and exhausted and just didn’t know how to tackle the situation.
How God Turned Everything Around
Things didn’t change overnight, but around the 6th week, there did seem to be a big shift in our homeschooling experience. Here a few things the Lord taught me:
1.) It wasn’t enough for me to pray that God would bless our day. The Lord showed me that I needed to confess that I was incapable of doing the work on my own. I needed to lay each homeschooling day down at His feet, and ask Him to be Lord over everything that went on. I didn’t need more strength and more wisdom. I needed His strength and His wisdom. I started to begin each school day admitting my utter dependence on Him to get through the day, and the children and I began having Bible and worship time together before we started our schoolwork. (James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”)
2.) I needed support from other homeschool moms. God graciously blessed me with a handful of other moms who were also new to the homeschooling adventure. Over the years we have been able to share our struggles and frustrations, to pray for, and encourage one another. (Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one falls down, his friend can help him up, but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”)
3.) I needed to reevaluate my expectations. God showed me that some of the work I was expecting my daughter to do just wasn’t necessary. Because she was only in kindergarten, and because I had 2 other little ones to care for and one more on the way, I needed to lessen the work load, and trust that God would help her to learn all she needed to learn. (Colossians 3:21 “… do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.”)
4.) I needed to enforce consistent rewards/discipline for my child’s attitude and behavior. Because my oldest is a strong-willed child, I needed to be consistent with my expectations for her longer than a parent would with most children. Each morning I would assign a reasonable amount of work for my daughter to complete. (She could easily finish it in one hour if she wanted to.) If she finished her work before lunch, she would receive some special privileges. If she didn’t finish her work before lunch, she would face some consequences. By consistently keeping with these expectations every day, we were finally able to have regular, peaceful school mornings, and she was able to learn good study habits. (Proverbs 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”)
Homeschooling is not easy, but in all my years of teaching, the first 6 weeks were by far the hardest! I am so thankful, looking back, that I stuck with it. Our family would have missed out on so many blessings if I had given up so quickly.
May God bless you and give you His strength in you own home as you seek to follow His leading, teaching your own children this year. (1 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”)
Copyright Sept 12, 2011 by Gwen Fredette
All Scripture taken from NIV (New International Version)