Press On! Simple Homeschooling Advice and Encouragement
In our family, we have two older boys, and then an eight-year gap between our younger son and our daughter. While spending time with my daughter’s friends and their moms, as the “veteran” homeschool mom, I sometimes get questions about homeschooling. While I am definitely still learning as I go and certainly do not have all the answers to these questions, I enjoy sharing some simple advice and encouragement.
The Big Picture
- My children will be fine in spite of my shortcomings. It’s an awesome responsibility to be my children’s teacher, for all subjects, for every grade, all day, every day. But God’s grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I don’t have to be perfect, and my children don’t have to be perfect. There have been many years when we did not cover everything that I had planned. As a history major, I have agonized over my ability to teach science and math. And by the grace of God, my older children are doing great in college, majoring in technical fields! So take a deep breath, pray, do the best you can, and know that your children will be okay too.
- It’s okay to play. I’m basically a traditional learner. Even as a child the sight of a brand new workbook with clean, tight pages filled my heart with joy. My kids also love workbooks and traditional kinds of curricula. However, there are days when it just seems like everyone (mom and students) needs a break from this type of learning, and that’s okay. Learning can and should happen in a variety of ways – learning games, nature walks, reading aloud, field trips, cooking, etc. Enjoy some play time, and then you can get back to your regularly scheduled school books.
- I don’t have to put my kids in a box. One of my children resisted writing. Really resisted it. For years. We fought about it over and over, and many tears were shed (mostly by me). Until one day, I gave up. I knew that if I kept pushing, this child of mine would hate writing forever, and even more importantly, our relationship would suffer. So my very bright child was “behind” in writing skills. Sometimes I would hear other parents talk about what their children were doing, and I would worry that I was failing my child because I wasn’t forcing this. But when some time had passed, I reintroduced writing, and it went much better. Today this child is a very good writer. Don’t worry if your child is “behind” his or her peers. Keep working at it at a comfortable pace, take a break if you need to, reconsider your approach, and pray for wisdom and peace. You can get back to it when you’re both ready.
Finally, and most importantly, I work very hard to provide my children with a challenging, well-rounded education, but this should never be my ultimate goal. I have to remind myself that while learning the material in their books is important, other lessons are even more essential – the value of hard work and perseverance, the joy of learning, how to get along with people, and as Christians, the calling to follow Christ and serve others. When I can keep the big picture in mind, everything else seems to fall into place (Matthew 6:33).
Susan Eggers holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in Russian history. She has completed coursework toward her Ph. D. and has conducted research in libraries and archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Her first teaching position was at the college level, and after she started homeschooling her three children in 2003, she began teaching history and geography online. She and her family live in upstate South Carolina, where they enjoy reading, gardening, and playing with their two large dogs.