Bone Weary: When Homeschooling Isn’t Fun
Behind the plastic smiles, the almost sparkling minivan, the perfectly behaved children, my little world was marked by anxiety, discontent, and confusion. I have been bone weary, dog-tired, and joyless. I readily admit that at times in my homeschool journey I did not feel that I could continue to homeschool my children. I felt this way for a number of reasons depending upon the issue of the day. These feelings of hopelessness were triggered by the economic realities of being a single-income family and the anxiety that accompanies it. Other days it was the drain of being responsible for the entire education of my children. And at other times it was the simple day-in-day-out grind of dealing with the character issues that all fallen people (including children and parents) exhibit.
Frankly, all my issues reflected a lack of trust and faith in that what the Lord had called me to do, He would accomplish (Heb. 13:21). And what the Lord purposes, He completes (Phil 1:6). And that all things work together for good for those called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). And that we need not worry about what we shall eat or wear, as the Lord knows we need these things and provides for them (Matt. 6: 25-27).
Upon further reflection, I had to confess that the Lord Jesus has ALWAYS proven faithful and trustworthy. Not one of His promises has failed (Joshua 21:45). Cataloging what God has accomplished in, through, and around me showed me a staggering list of the mightiness and faithfulness of the Lord.
And yet, at times over the course of an almost twenty-year homeschooling career, I have felt overwhelmed and burdened. Perhaps an example might be helpful. One such day as I was reflecting on our plans for the coming year, I recalled the passage from the Gospel of Matthew quoted above. I felt that Jesus was beckoning me and calling me to put down my burden. Homeschooling should not be a heavy burden. Jesus says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Why did I feel so overwrought?
Over the course of that day I realized that while I was vocalizing that the Lord was in charge of our family’s homeschool, in reality I was in charge of it. And not only that, I had allowed those books and lists of requirements and suggestions of others to creep in and take a place of precedence that they should not have held.
To serve as an illustration: I had allowed the classical methodology, as so eloquently described in numerous popular books and articles, to become my checklist and my guide. Those booklists and methods and reports of glorious academic outcomes were very seductive to me. Who wouldn’t want those outcomes and a nice list of things to do? Yet, when I pondered what was making me feel so burdened and what was really burning out my children, I uncovered this gnawing sense of incompletion and frustration because I was:
- trying to stick to a historic four year rotation combining history and literature
- making my children read books they didn’t like (and I didn’t like them too much either!)
- accomplishing a lot of Latin and math at a pace that could in truth be slowed down
- cramming in a lot of projects and facts
- ignoring my children’s learning styles and our family’s “way of being”
Now I would like to say that there is NOTHING wrong with a classical education. What I am trying to say is that I had made the method take the place of seeking the Lord and His guidance on how best to educate these precious children. Jesus isn’t limited by methodologies. He can educate my children in any number of ways and produce marvelous outcomes for His own glory. He alone knows best the preparation they need for the work He has prepared for them. And sometimes He wants us to walk with Him day by day and to reveal His plan little by little. I wanted a scope and sequence for the entire 12 years. At least for me and my family, He is not ready to reveal it to me in that way — yet.
After that epiphany, I no longer worry so much about checklists. I have a general idea of what needs to happen, but I do not feel oppressed by it. I have learned to flex, flow, and let the Lord guide.
How is your homeschool burden? Are you grievously worn and downtrodden? Or, do you feel rested and light? If you feel the former, then perhaps you can ask God to show you what changes you can make to fall in line with His perfect will for your homeschool. Below is a list of verses I’ve used to provide peace to my soul when I’m weary and the work feels anything but easy.
Excelsior Classes can help you with your homeschool burdens.
Check out our About Us page to better understand why we do what we do.
Jodi Guerra is an Instructor and Coordinator with Excelsior Classes, a consortium of online teachers dedicated to excellence in online instruction. She has been involved in the education of children and adults serving in public schools, private schools, and corporate America. For the last twenty years, Jodi has worked with homeschool students in private classes, tutoring situations, and in the virtual world of online education. She seeks to make every learning situation fun yet productive. Besides teaching, Jodi loves to read and finds both cooking and sewing to be creative expressions.