When our daughter was still an infant, my husband and I determined to homeschool our children. Over two decades later, we breathed a contented sigh as our third and youngest child graduated from high school, and I officially retired. As I consider those full, busy days that demanded all the strength of my younger years, I see four keys to the completion of such a daunting task. If you are considering homeschooling as a course of life for your family, think about the following keys.
Hold Onto the Conviction
Malachi 2:15 captures our ultimate conviction in homeschooling our children. Speaking of the covenant of marriage, the prophet spoke, “And did not He make one? And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed.” We desired to bring up born-again, Bible-believing children—“a godly seed” for the Lord Jesus Christ. We wanted to build into their souls both Christian character and intellectual growth in a non-hostile, love-saturated atmosphere. While homeschooling cannot guarantee success, our children were not exposed daily to the humanism, secularism, evolution, peer pressure, sex education, and other influences often seen elsewhere.
Homeschooling has been compared to raising tender plants in a greenhouse; we nurture and grow small sprouts and seedlings for a limited season until they are mature to withstand the howling blast outside. Likewise, we teach and encourage our young ones while they are still with us.
God desires earnest Christian parents raising their children for Him. Look at these Scriptures; mull them over to see how they apply to your home: Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:6-9, and 11:18-21; Psalm 78:2-7; Proverbs 22:6; and Ephesians 6:4. Ours is a sobering responsibility!
Do It Right
We find the second key in the challenge of Colossians 3:23. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” The details of “doing it right” will vary in each family. But underlying each family’s method of accomplishing their goals should be the values of dedication, thoroughness, intelligence, sacrifice, and love. A thorough and complete job will withstand any challenge by inquiring authorities and, even better, produce lively, inquisitive, and successful kids.
Establish Proper Priorities
Establishing proper priorities is a vital key. Homeschooling your children is your regular job now, Mom. Unnecessary distractions rob you and your children of precious minutes, which add up to squandered hours.
Use an answering machine to screen phone calls. Sally might think she needs to talk to you right now, but in most cases, she can wait until you finish school for the day. Her message can tell you if it is an emergency, but identify idle phone chatter. Explain to family and friends that you are not available during certain hours. They will see that you take your duty seriously, and most people will understand.
Phone calls are not the only pitfall. Too much time away from home running errands or household chores not worked into your schedule properly take away from valuable learning time. Children do better on a math lesson at home rather than juggling around in the back seat of your vehicle! If you must go out, leave your child to work under proper supervision.
If we protect our school time from unnecessary interruptions, our children will see our dedication to giving them a good education. A homeschool in which any little thing causes a disruption is a homeschool that will be less than effective and more vulnerable to complaints by outsiders.
Find Strength for Diligence
My husband chuckles as he remembers the routine panic that swamped my soul at the beginning of each school year. When I took out the books to get an overview of the curriculum and begin my planning, I was completely overwhelmed. “I can’t do this any more!” I wailed in despair, to which my patient husband always replied, “Now, Linda, you know the Lord always helps you every year.”
Long-term, effective homeschooling requires daily grace from the Lord. If we daily lean on Him, He will pour into our sagging souls the resources that enable us to persevere. “For without me ye can do nothing,” Jesus stated in John 15:5. But “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Finding joy and wisdom in Christ is the only way to plod down the long, sometimes muddy road of educating children at home.The rewards are eternal, the goal is a sacred one, and the wherewithal to continue and succeed comes only from Him.
So what have my husband and I found at the end of our adventure? Our two daughters, both writers, have graduated with honors from an academically challenging Christian university. To date, my older girl has her first book published, as well as several magazine articles. My younger daughter has poems and an essay published in notable magazines, in addition to writing for the university newspaper. My son, a freshman, is majoring in criminal justice and doing well. All three have thanked me for giving them a good education that developed their minds and abilities.
Was it worth it? You betcha! I would not trade the closeness in our family for all the money and accolades of a successful professional career.Yes, in spite of the difficulties, I would do it all again, making changes that the wisdom of hindsight teaches. But I must confess that I am enjoying my retirement.
By Linda DeVoid Wrigh