Well, since I wrote last about the power and place of grace, I should show myself some in neglecting my blog for the last couple of weeks. The good news is that I did exactly what I described in the last post: I spent time and gave attention to each of my family members according to their specific needs, and a fun, loving time was had by all.
So, now with everyone once again settled in their respective homes-away-from-home, we get back to our grind.
It’s an odd place on the homeschool journey, to be closer to the end. I love reading—and sharing—posts that list the how-tos: how to help a child struggling with reading or math, how to decide upon a given curriculum, and of course, how to get started homeschooling, which is where so many people are right now. Personally, however, I find myself in more of a reflective mood, often writing about the places where I would focus at this point—character development, preparation for college/ life post-homeschooling, and self-care. I think a lot about what I would do differently, i.e., what I might say to my younger homeschooling self, as I often see it phrased elsewhere. I thought (once I completed the list) to consider it my “30 before 30” list because 30 is the age at which I became a mom. Homeschooling came about eight years later. My list would include the following:
- Remember that Christ loves the children more than you do; He died for them. You are a steward of His gifts.
- (realizing the truth of #1), seek His will constantly for your children according to Proverbs 3:3-6.
- Recognize that everything cannot and will not be fun, but be willing to be a kid with them when you can.
- Learn and incorporate different learning styles and multiple angles in teaching any given concept.
- Get up before the kids.
- Organize yourself to stay a few steps ahead of the kids (lesson planning, reviewing ahead, clean, uncluttered spaces).
- You cannot give from an empty cup. Rest well, eat right, and exercise regularly (you are also modeling these things for your children).
- Realize that they watch you. Be mindful as to how you handle stress and frustration.
- Pray without ceasing.
- Give lots of examples, written and verbal. Role play the behaviors you desire for your family.
- Realize the power—and the pit—of social media. Read for edification rather than condemnation of self.
- Don’t be intimidated by the need for them to always enjoy each moment.
- Similarly, don’t be afraid to set high expectations.
- Move past your personal comfort zone (In my case that means to engage more with the external world). Again, you are modeling this for your children.
- Write your schedules in pencil, both physically and mentally. Life will disrupt your plans.
- Get outside when the weather is pleasant.
- Grow a garden. There are many lessons to be learned from nature, and it teaches all of you to value healthy eating.
- Date your children individually.
- Pay close attention to your children’s interests and passions. You, too, can learn from what they do.
- Look for low-cost or no-cost means to take field trips. Don’t let costs overtake you.
- Be obedient to what you believe God is telling you to do, even when it gets hard.
- Teach your children to give, to serve, and to handle conflicts with the goal of building relationships.
- Always be thankful. Regardless of what it looks like, you live a blessed life.
- Remember that you are in each other’s faces all day. Show each other the grace that you all (including you as a parent) will sometimes need. Give LOTS of hugs and kisses, especially when you don’t feel like it.
- Give your children a foundation in the Word of God, even though some consider it “non-academic.” It will sustain them in difficult and uncertain times.
- Discipline in love.
- Include in your routine wiping used surfaces, stacking away books, and decluttering. It will help you all stay both well and sane.
- Include your husband in some way. Let your children see that homeschooling is an integral part of who you are as a family.
- Be discerning about who you invite into your space.
- Understand season. There is a time to be a parent, a time to transition toward wise council, and a time to be a friend.
For sure, not all of these items are things that I failed to do; some are simply places where I would place even more emphasis. But if you asked me today what was most important while I built their educational foundation, my answer would be totally different than it might be 15 years ago. I would say something along the lines of ‘Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.’ (Psalm 138:8, The Message)