Homeschooling–what could be more challenging, more enjoyable, or more intimidating to a parent? It is a road of tremendous blessing but also of great sanctification for a family. In reflecting on 30 years of teaching my children I have seen many successes and failures, joys and sorrows, satisfactions and regrets. As I consider how to encourage the next generation of homeschoolers, there are two primary areas that come to mind that I feel are essential to your homeschooling success.
Refine Your Vision:
Why are you educating your children? What is your goal? What are you hoping to accomplish and instill in them? Are we trying to turn out the most academically impressive young adults, or are we looking for children that are wise in the the things of God? I would submit to you that homeschooling is nothing less than the Christian discipleship of your children. It is your response to the command given to raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord so that the future generation will declare His praises. It is essential to be continually evaluating to be sure that we stay on the right track. In a culture that exalts the wisdom of man, it is easy to stray off course and miss the training of our children in Godliness. Of course we all want our children to succeed academically, but that does not go far enough. God calls us to disciple our children in the fear of the Lord, for that is where true wisdom is found. We can instill much academic knowledge and miss the fear of God, with the results being disastrous for the next generation. No amount of academic achievement will comfort a parent if their child does not walk in the fear of the Lord.
Keeping your vision in view is what will sustain you on those wonderful days when children are sick, dishes are undone, the housework has fallen by the wayside, math has been bypassed, the mama is frazzled and your life seems like the aftermath of a hurricane. Those are the times you must be able to see that in all the chaos the most needful lessons were still taught, i.e., how to respond to every situation biblically with love, patience and grace, how to lean on the everlasting arms for strength, how to be an example to our children of peace in the chaos, and when we fail at that, we have the opportunity to display a heart of humble repentance before them. It is easy to become discouraged after days like this, but if you are instilling those spiritual lessons in your children, then that was a very profitable homeschool day! The math will come in time, but the character of the child is where the vision must be.
The second priority I want to emphasize is keeping focused. That is making sure we are aiming at the target we had in mind. Once you have your vision clearly before you it is a constant battle to refine and refocus your efforts to achieve it. It is so easy to get side tracked, and if we don’t check our trajectory we may well miss the mark we were hoping to hit. There are so many paths and detours along the way, so many different curricula, co-ops, conferences, and activities that it can be hard to discern where to spend your time, money and energy. We must be careful not to let the fun, the interesting or the latest homeschool craze pull us off track. We may often have to refuse things that may be good in order to reach for the best. Keep in mind how you will define whether you have been a successful homeschool parent or not. Will your success be defined by test scores or by whether your children are conformed to the image of Christ? Do you desire most for them to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?
These words are not meant to negate the importance of striving for academic mastery, but we must keep first things first and the other things will follow. As your children grow in Godliness they will also grow in the pursuit of doing all for His glory, leading to applying themselves to do their best in every area of life. This is certainly the best road to their academic success as well as success in all other areas.
Always remember where true wisdom is found. “In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Philippians 3:8).
Homeschooling is definitely not an easy road, but the rewards are innumerable. Keep in mind the admonition of Paul to the Galatians, “Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Homeschooling can be a difficult and daunting task, but keep the words of the Psalmist before you continually, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). Your children’s relationship with their Lord is worth every sacrifice! Do not grow weary in doing good. Rest in God, teach the best, and continually reevaluate your trajectory and refine or pull back to improve your aim so you may hit the target. Always remember that you “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!” (Philippians 3:14.)