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Encouragement for the Homeschooling Journey
A 15-year-homeschooling veteran shares the insights she gleaned while homeschooling her nine children!

In the early 1990’s, when our oldest child was three, my husband’s sister encouraged us to consider homeschooling. Our first reaction was “No.” How could we teach our children and do a good job of it? We struggled for two years with the ideas of homeschooling or sending our children to a public school.

The idea of Christian schooling was out of the question as there were no buses in our area for the Christian school and we did not have the finances for it. We began to realize that public schooling was not an option either. My youngest sister was in grade eight in the public school system and would give us occasional reports.

We became concerned. How could we send our children into the world to let others teach them for more of their waking hours than we would have them?

As we warmed up to the idea of homeschooling, our next concern was “How can we separate Mother from Teacher? We have since learned that a mother cannot be separated from being a teacher. She is always teaching whether it is biblical truths, housekeeping, or godly character.

When our oldest was five, we had four children with the fifth due during the school year. Our first year of homeschooling was satisfying and rewarding.

We were encouraged to take one year at a time and not to commit to eight or 12 years all at once. We decided to try a second year. We had two in school. Again we found it to be a very enriching experience. Our sixth child was born at the end of that school year. We have just completed our 15th year of homeschooling grades K-12. It has been challenging but very fulfilling and rewarding. We now have nine children.

Our oldest two have graduated from grade 12 and have entered the workforce. One attended a private college and graduated with honours and is now an assistant manager in her workplace.

It takes a great deal of commitment and dedication to homeschool. Not everyday will be a good day. Not every year overall will be a good year. We endured trials and troubles, sickness and three miscarriages, but through it all, the Lord sustained us and gave us the strength to continue. We learned from 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.

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I was recently asked what advice and encouragement I could give a family just beginning the homeschool journey. Here is my list.

1. Pray daily for your school day. Begin the day with family devotions and pray specifically for yourself as teacher, for your children as students, and for your studies. Psalm 63:1 says, ”Early will I seek thee.” Whether early in the day or early in their life, your children need to know that they are loved and that you are praying for them.

2. Plan your school year. During the summer months, peruse all your books and set up a schedule. Determine how much you wish to cover each day and as much as possible follow your plan. Try to have your daily lesson plans scheduled for at least one month in advance. This allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable school day.

3. Take time for yourself. You have taken on a great responsibility in educating your children. You are with them all day, every day. Make sure that you take time out regularly for you. That is, NOT grocery shopping or taking the children to the dentist or to field trips, or other homeschool events. It can be going for a walk, visiting some friends, going out for supper (or just coffee) with your husband, reading a book in the middle of the day, etc. Homeschooling is a full time job added onto what you were doing before.

Taking time for yourself is not being selfish! Also do not feel guilty for taking time out. You will feel refreshed and energized and your husband and your children will appreciate you more.

4. Take care of yourself physically (health wise) and spiritually. Make sure you get enough quiet time with the Lord, and also enough sleep. Things go much better when Mom is well rested! You will feel more energized and better equipped for your school day. (The laundry will still be there tomorrow!) “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).

5. Make sure your children know that your husband comes before them. You are with your children all day, every day, but you were with your husband long before the children came along. Your children will eventually grow up and move out of the house, but you have your husband till death do you part. Keep the communication lines open and the love strong. Let the children know that after God, Dad is number one in the family. (I try to emphasize that my husband is number one by meeting him at the door when he comes home, or if that is not possible, calling a greeting to him.)

6. Tidy up the house an hour before Dad is scheduled to come home. You may have had a rough and trying day, but he may have had a bad day as well. He does not need to come home to toys strewn on the floor, breakfast dishes still in the sink, etc. My husband knows and understands how busy our house is with nine children coming and going all day long, but if he comes home day after day to a mess, it becomes frustrating and depressing.

7. Don’t do everything in one year. By that I mean, do not attempt to incorporate every new idea into your school year. You come home from a homeschooling conference all energized and excited for the new school year. Do not start all these ideas during the first week of school. Think through carefully which ideas will work for your family and spread the starting dates over a few months or even years. Do a good job with a few ideas rather than a half job with a lot of ideas. If you attempt too much all at once, your children will become frustrated and disinterested, and you will burn out. Colossians 3:17, 23, and 24 commands us to “do all things heartily and to the honour and glory of God.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” Remember, “All that you do, do with your might, Things done by halves, are never done right” (Anonymous).

8. Learn to say no for yourself, your children, and your family. But…before you say “No, I cannot possibly do that,” carefully and prayerfully consider each request that someone makes of your time and talents. Most importantly, get your husband’s blessing on each project you pursue. He will know best (after you) if you are able to handle another task or if you will need to give up one task to take on a new one.

9. Recognize that each child has a different learning method, different learning needs, and different learning abilities. The more children you have, the more differences you will see. The beauty of homeschooling is that it is one-on-one. You can redo a lesson as needed or skim over a lesson that the child has quickly and easily comprehended.

10. Teach your children at a young age to help with the housework. Try not to have any extra housework scheduled on the days your husband is home from work so that you can enjoy family time. We have divided our house into five “sections” so that each day we thoroughly clean the area. This way we do not have to clean the whole house in one day and it also allows for quick pick up when unexpected company arrives.

11. Many household chores are mundane and thankless jobs. If your children sense a spirit of grumbling or grumpiness from you, they will be quickly turned off with the boring but necessary tasks. Motivating your children to help with the housework can be as easy as a smile and a cheerful attitude. Some chores are more enjoyable if you make it into a game, for example, sorting laundry with a three-year-old.

With the older children, we would play Bible ABC names and places especially while preparing beans, strawberries, etc. for canning. These games would increase their Bible knowledge and promote family time. (A is for Abraham, B is for Bartholomew, C is for Caleb, etc.)

12. Remember to praise your children when they accomplish a task whether large or small. Children will need admonition and discipline, but they also need to know that you are proud of them and of what they have achieved.

The author is a 15-year homeschooling veteran, an active member in her local support group and a vital part of the OCHEC volunteer staff.

Originally published in the OCHEC Newsletter, Summer 2008.




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