(originally published in Shattered magazine)
A New School Year
Calendars tell us that the beginning of the year is January first, but every mother knows that the true beginning of each New Year is back-to-school time. I love the beginning of a new school year, don’t you? As a child, I was mesmerized by fresh notebooks and school supplies each fall. And to this day, nothing has changed. Now I homeschool my own children and I still can’t wait to get out all of the new books that each child will be learning from over the next year. I even get giddy filling out my weekly planner. For those of us who homeschool, we should remember to prepare our hearts as well. Here are a few ways to make sure you are emotionally and spiritually prepared for a the new year ahead:
Check your motives. Nowadays it seems like everyone is homeschooling, doesn’t it? Homeschooling is a type of ministry that many, but not all, people are called to. As moms we often feel pressured to be like other mothers. If we see other mothers who are called to homeschool doing a great job, we can sometimes feel guilty for not doing it ourselves, especially as we hear horror stories coming out of public schools. Deciding to homeschool your children is a big job and a huge sacrifice. It will be a nightmare for your entire family if you try to do it in your own strength and apart from the empowering work of Holy Spirit. Before you decide anything, be sure that you and your spouse have thoroughly prayed about it and that you both feel assured that God is leading you to commit to this endeavor.
After you are sure that you have been called to the ministry of homeschooling, get excited! Realistically, there will be days when you feel like pulling your hair out, but homeschooling will also provide your family with a multitude of wonderful experiences that will be both memorable and fun. Get ready to have a great year.
Fear not; you can do this. Many mothers have told me that they certainly feel led to homeschool their children but are afraid because they’re unsure whether or not they are capable of doing something as monumental as educating their children. This reminds me of the story of Gideon in the Old Testament. When the Angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Gideon and told him that God wanted him to save the Israelites from their oppressors, the Midianites, Gideon was sure that there must have been a mistake. He cataloged all of the reasons why he couldn’t do this particular job. The angel with God’s full authority called out to Gideon with the words, “Oh, mighty warrior, go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand; am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14). God was telling Gideon that He had already given him all of the resources that he would need in order to accomplish this task. Guess what? He has done that for each of us as well. If God has called you to the task of homeschooling, then to God you are already a “mighty homeschool mom.” Don’t be afraid, you can do this! (And you might want to recite that to yourself in the mirror each morning.)
Teach the Truth
Teach your child what is truly important. One of the biggest blessings of homeschooling is the added opportunity to intertwine the Word of God with the seams of our children’s hearts (Psalm 119:11). There is nothing in this world that is more important. As we educate our children, we are, in reality, preparing them to thrive in and contribute spiritually to the rest of the world. The best possible way to do this is to constantly nourish their hearts with scripture and bathe them in prayer. Don’t become so focused on picking out curriculums, keeping schedules, and/or running the kids around to all of their extra-curricular activities that you forget what you’re actual purpose in homeschooling is.
Doing What You Know Is Right
Do what God has told you to do and don’t sweat the rest. I will tell you that nothing has caused others, including random strangers at the grocery store, to offer their opinions more freely than my decision to homeschool. People often tell me that they would never subject their kids to homeschooling because those kids are always “weird.” I find this hilarious! I used to be a public school teacher and my husband is a professor at a public university. Trust me when I tell you that public education does not spare you or your child from “weirdness.” Besides, what’s wrong with being different? He made us all different for a purpose, so you just have to laugh at others’ critical comments and remember that you are doing what God has called you to do. Show interest in how God views your choices rather than concerning yourself with other people’s opinions of those choices.
Care For Yourself
Last but definitely not least, do not push aside your own spiritual health. God equips us to do every good thing that He has called us to do (Hebrews 13:12). He will give us the daily strength, patience, and wisdom that we need; but, we must stay close to Him through prayer, Bible study, and relationships with other Christ followers. So mighty homeschool mom, go in the strength that you have been given and have a fantastic school year. Has not God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe, sent you?