It looks like COVID has caused an increase in homeschool families this year. It’s a powerful little virus, isn’t it?! Causing changes all over the world.
On one of my recent morning jogs I was thinking about this influx of new homeschool moms. I’ve talked with a few and shared some of my experiences. But the thought hit me: what would I like to share about homeschooling – truly – with someone just starting?
Three areas instantly came to mind. Not three things I encourage you to do or try, but rather three areas to watch out for. I’m going to call these areas riptides, for they are things under the surface that have almost pulled me under multiple times and made me want to quit.
So here they are along with ways you can counteract them.
Riptide #1: My kids should be my #1 priority.
This is a big one and one you will feel tug on you soon. And it sounds noble. It is noble. Make no mistake, our kids ARE important. They are a priority. But I don’t believe they should be THE #1 priority and what everything and everyone else revolves around. That is not fair to our kids, or to our husbands, who can inadvertently feel like they are #2 on the priority list.
When kids grow up and leave home, their college professor will not view them as their #1 priority. Neither will their boss or their co-worker or their spouse or their friends for that matter. So why should I treat them that way as their mom and teacher?
I’m not saying everyone does this – again, this is a riptide to watch out for.
When you feel this mindset start to tug on you, meaning when you start to feel guilty for not doing enough, here’s what you can do: Spend time doing hobbies & other interests outside your kids. Take a cake decorating class, a workout class, go on dates with your husband, or girl nights with your friends. Getting out of the house and away from it all is good. Yes, it may mean you’re not available sometimes to be with your kids or answer questions. This is OK. I have found that my hobbies have inspired my kids to develop their own hobbies as well!
Riptide #2: Find the RIGHT curriculum.
Homeschooling people are passionate about curriculum choices. And we should be! We have invested time and money and hope into those books and trust that God will use the material to teach our kids what they need to know! It’s a BIG deal.
Sometimes, despite good marketing intentions I’m sure, curriculum companies sound like this: If Jesus were here on earth now and had children, He would use this method…this book….this group!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fallen for this one! My bank statements hold the proof! The problem with this way of thinking is when the “perfect” curriculum doesn’t work for me or for my child, then obviously there is something wrong with me and how I’m using it. Therefore I must not be cut out for homeschooling. Somehow I have failed.
This just isn’t true!
If you start to feel guilty over something NOT working, don’t give into guilt.
Instead here’s what you can do: Try something different. Or put it down for a couple days, pick it back up and see if you can determine where the break down is. Is it the material confusing or the child not trying? Kid’s needs constantly change and I believe the best learning comes from trying new things.
Riptide #3: Make sure they see no evil and hear no evil.
This is one I’ve just recently come to the surface from after being yanked under and pulled out at sea. Metaphorically speaking of course!
My purpose in homeschooling has never been to insulate my kids from the evil in the world. When they were little, probably 10 and younger, yes, I saw my job as being the filter for what was allowed into their life.
I monitored what they read, watched, heard, etc. The goal was to establish a foundation of truth. But now that I have two teenagers, my job is NOT to filter things for them.
My job is to equip them to filter for themselves. And sometimes that means seeing and hearing the ugly parts of life.
Life is messy and hard. We each have struggles and difficulties, circumstances we never expected show up at our doorstep and demand an answer. We can’t prevent our young people from experiencing the consequences of living life this side of heaven.
Instead we must teach and show them how to deal with things like hurt, disappointment and financial decisions. Otherwise they will have a very unpleasant wake up call when they leave our home.
One day our boys will be husbands, our daughters wives. They will be someone’s co-worker, someone’s boss. How will the curriculum you choose help equip them to be an adult long after the lesson’s over?
Education is important, but sometimes it seems like we’re giving kids a new, flashy toolbelt but leaving out the tools that go in that tool belt that will help them navigate the world once they leave our home!
When you feel this riptide’s pull, here’s what to remember: Develop thick skin as a parent and a connected prayer life with the Lord. Know firmly what He’s called you to and don’t let people sway you with what looks like their perfect way of life!
So, to all first year homeschool moms out there, (and even veterans!) I hope this gives you some areas to watch out for and sets you up for a great year!