There is barely more than a month remaining of summer. I've noticed an ever so slight change in the weather and just a hint of color showing up in the leaves. You know what that means, it's almost time to start back to school! I just love new school books and new supplies. I love the fresh start of a new semester. I love the planning and preparation. I love all of it! To me, it's the most wonderful time of the year!
We've been busy shopping for notebooks and pencils and crayons and glue. We've purchased new books and made note of the ones still needed. We've reorganized the school closet and printed lots and lots of worksheets. There are new binders and index cards and workbooks stacked up ready to go. I've made list after list. Everyone is getting excited and some are even asking to start early.
I desire to make this our best school year ever. This is my oldest child's senior year. This is the last year I will be his school teacher. I feel proud and happy and sad all at the same time. I knew this day would come but I had no idea how quickly! I look back over the years and all that I've learned as a home school mom and I can see how gracious and kind the Father has been. Our years of home schooling certainly have not been perfect. And boy have I made a lot of mistakes! But God has brought us through each year and has lavished His grace upon our family and on our school. Here are some things I have learned along the way that I would like to share with my home schooling readers.
Always put the first things first. Teach your children to love God and love others. Teach them to have godly character. Train them to have right attitudes. Teach your children life skills. Teach them to serve and teach them to work. THEN teach academics. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39
Don't concern yourself with the opinion of others. Stop worrying about what others think or do. Follow God's leading and direction through prayer and bible study. You answer to God and your husband. Not your neighbor, not even your mother. When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7
Learn to say "No" gracefully. This is such a difficult thing for some of us women folk. The sooner you learn when and how to say it, the better off you are going to be. Don't do things simply because others think you should. Pray and carefully evaluate each thing you consider getting involved in. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Titus 2:3-5
Remember that home schooling is NOT public school in your home. You don't have to sit in desks, do all the work in workbooks, or follow a typical schedule. You can spread a blanket in the backyard and learn about bugs or plants (science), make artwork and deliver to the nursing home (art & community service), prepare dinner together (home economics/family sciences), read whole books or write letters (language arts), play store or work on a budget (math), learn to play a musical instrument (fine arts), and play a family game of kick-ball (P.E.). And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
When the insecurity bug bites, talk with someone who is also on the home school journey and share your concerns. Sometimes just chatting with someone a little further along in the homeschooling process can give you the encouragement you need to banish unnecessary anxiety. Don't sign your children up for too many extra-curricular activities simply because you fear they are missing out on something. Thus says the LORD, "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; And you shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
Don't give a thought to that question people like to ask about social skills. It's nonsense. Social skills are taught at home, not at school. Teach your children to be polite and speak correctly. Teach them to say thank you and to write thank you notes. Help them to learn proper manners and to look people in the eye when speaking. Less is more when it comes to spending time with peers. Your children need to spend time with their parents and other adults. Time with age-mates is NOT all it is cracked up to be. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Proverbs 22:15a He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20
Realize that home schooling is hard work and it will cost you. It will cost a lot of money and it will take a lot of time. You won't be able to keep a beautiful, picture-perfect home. Homeschooling is messy! You may not be able to shop, travel, decorate, dress, or even eat like your friends and neighbors. Your money will be spent on books, curricula, supplies, lessons, materials, computer programs and the like. You will be paying for A LOT of the things that are provided, (for free) in the public school system. When you look at the big picture this is really a small price to pay. Sure there are cheaper and easier ways to educate your children, but who wants cheap and easy? Parents have been given a stewardship over their children's minds and worldviews. We MUST be good stewards of what God has given us. WE WILL REAP WHAT WE SOW. Just look around. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Galatians 6:7
Love on your kids and enjoy spending time with them. Be patient, understanding and forgiving. Remember, your kids will do what you DO. Pray, pray, pray and don't forget to enjoy the journey! Have fun learning with your children. Slow down, stay home as much as you can, and simplify. Fill your home with books, educational games, music, and art supplies. Rid it of junk. YOUR CHILDREN ARE GOING TO LEARN EVERYTHING THEY NEED TO LEARN - believe that. Smile, it's the most wonderful time of the year!