I began this homeschooling journey 13 years ago with hopeful trepidation in my heart. I knew we were embarking on a journey few were on, but God was calling us to this journey so we began trusting him to make a way. My oldest is beginning her senior year this fall and she is our ‘Grand Experiment’ (poor child).
God has been faithful to light the way when I didn’t know what I was doing and the way ahead seemed so dark. I don’t have it all together and I have much more to learn, but as I look back I see how God has used homeschooling to teach me five important things.
- Outward behavior is good, heart behavior is best.
I have a tendency to put on the armor of good behavior on myself and my kids when it seems the world is watching so I have made it my mission to dig into the heart of the issues that have come up through the years. If I hadn’t, I would have missed the truth that my second oldest daughter’s heart is for peace. When she was smaller she would explosively hit or bite her older sister, which certainly is not peace promoting, however, this child’s heart had a hard time saying ‘no’ to her big sister because she was worried about her sister’s feelings. If I had merely disciplined her for her biting and hitting behavior I would have missed the truth that she needed help learning to speak up for herself in a way that protects the peace. If I hadn’t been more concerned for her heart, she would likely be a bundle of resentments.
- Decisions within boundaries.
When I took on the role of ‘teacher’ as well as ‘mama’ I realized the benefits of freedom within boundaries. Homeschooling has taught me the importance of letting my kids decide certain aspects of the homeschooling day for themselves. I give them parameters and they make decision within those parameters. When my kids were small and in grade school the parameters were narrower. It was a choice between one or two options, ex: do you want to do the history read aloud first or the science one? My soon to be Senior has full freedom in the order of her school day; her only parameter is to be ready to meet with me at our scheduled meeting time. Keeping the parameters tight when the kids are young and gradually increasing them as they age reduces the battle for control.
- Its okay to change.
Change is right and good, but when it involves laying down an idealistic dream? That is hard. I started out with dreams of unit studies and multilevel teaching and by my fifth homeschooling year I discovered I was not a good fit for unit studies and multilevel teaching was not a good fit for my girls. A change needed to happen or we were all going to go insane. I learned that changing my homeschooling methods and letting go of my preconceived notions of homeschooling was actually freeing and we began to enjoy our school times together.
- Respect goes both ways.
I cannot expect my kids to respect my instructions if I do not respect them. Basic manners? They’re pretty important here: Please. Thank-you. Apology. Learning how to interrupt. The kids learned to respect one another when I would expect them to wait for me to finish teaching one of their siblings. When my kids were littles I would start my days out with the youngest so their little love cup would be filled to the brim. They were much more willing to play independently or with another sibling when they knew that the day started in my arms with a story and a kiss.
- Be flexible with learning styles
I have many books on personalities, interaction styles, and learning styles because I love learning how people think and see the world. The problem I ran into was catering to everyone’s style. It grew exhausting and bred a self-centeredness within my kids that I was trying to avoid. I also grew resentful because I was teaching outside my style. So we have learned to bend and grow in each other’s learning styles outside our natural bent.
Homeschooling has been a journey filled with twists and turns and unexpected pitstops. Not only have my lovelies learned their ABC’s and so much more, but I have learned too. I have learned to get to the heart of issues, change is good, respect is important, sharing decisions is freeing, and being flexible doesn’t break me.
What are some of your greatest homeschooling lessons?
Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Her greatest desire is to see people live this ‘God-life’ with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her atwww.welcomegrace.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JessicaVanRoekel