Editor’s note: This is from our archives and has been slightly updated. These are “homeschool mom reflections” that I wrote several years ago with my oldest in college. She had just finished her first semester and we were waiting for her grades… the true test of the academic part of homeschooling! Keep reading to see how I did. I mean, how she did. lol
Do these questions resonate with you?
Am I smart enough to homeschool? Can I organize all those books and supplies and keep my home together while I homeschool? Will I be able to discipline myself enough to do it all? Can I make a workable plan and actually stick to it? Will I ruin my kids not doing science/history/art/spelling this year? Am I going to be able to teach high school? Will my kids be able to get into college? And If they do get in, will they be able to hack it?
With my oldest now in college and as we wait for those first college grades to be posted, I reflect on these questions I have asked myself over the years. And for me, the answers are: No, I’m not smart, organized, or disciplined enough! But God has blessed in spite of my limitations.
Most of us would not consider ourselves brilliant, but we all have the desire for our kids to grow up to be independent learners, to be kind to others, well-rounded, responsible citizens, well-informed about the issues surrounding us, and even more importantly, to have a heart for God.
I didn’t mention that they needed to be perfect spellers, get all A’s in high school math, or be able to remember all the US Presidents in order. Academics are important, but they are not the most important.
When I talk about wanting to help you “bring your kids’ education to life,” I’m not just talking about making your homeschooling more fun or exciting — although that’s certainly part of it.
I’m also stating the importance of giving your homeschooling a Biblical foundation: that is, making sure that the curriculum you use, what you teach, and the way you live your lives is based upon the Word of Life given to us from God and recorded in the Bible.
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt 6:33
I know it doesn’t mean that if we do devotions every day after breakfast that my kids will get straight A’s. But it does mean that we are instructed to keep first things first. As homeschool moms, we have to place spiritual training and discipling of our children ahead of algebra, composition, and science, and the rest of the academic stuff.
So how do we teach and disciple our kids? Here are four ways. These are not all the ways, and probably not even the most important ways, but I hope they will help and encourage you.
1. Do your best to model what you’re teaching.
One of the most important things, as parents, is that we have tried to put into practice what we are teaching our kids. It doesn’t do me any good to require that the children speak kindly to one another when I am not speaking kindly to their father.
It isn’t productive for me to tell the children to be respectful, if we, as parents, are not respectful of one another and of them. That doesn’t mean that we are perfect, but we try to do our best, and we apologize when we mess up. (Which in my case, can be often.)
2. Have regular devotions on your kids’ level.
Have regular devotions, geared to children’s ages. That doesn’t mean to “dumb them down,“ it just means that it works best to have short devotions that include singing and object lessons. Especially when your kids are younger. Having devotions right after breakfast works best for us, while everyone is still at the table.
For part of our devotions, we choose a hymn a month, talk about the words, and memorize at least the first verse. Learn how to do hymn study here. This is an easy and effective way to teach your kids theology, by the way!
Note that in our house, parents get up earlier and have personal devotions before children get up. As children get older, our devotions get ‘meatier.’ By the time our children were in late elementary and middle school, we were working through the book of Romans, a few verses at a time. Also at this age, we encouraged our kids to have their own devotions, either when they first woke up or before they went to bed.
3. Treat each other well and teach your kids to follow instructions.
Model that treating each other well and following instructions are more important than getting the (academic) work done. Many a time we have put away the books to unravel a sibling squabble. We don’t continue working until apologies are made and forgiveness offered.
As well, work that has been done without following instructions is often required to be done again. Not that I recommend being a stickler on the non-essentials. But if I have asked that someone show each step in an algebra problem, then the work is not done until those steps are included.
And as painful as it might seem to our kids, writing a well-crafted essay always takes more than one draft. Say this at the outset and don’t relent, and your kids will come to expect it.
4. Families serve each other as well as those outside the family.
As a family, serve each other and serve others outside of the family. Make a game out of looking for ways to serve one another each day or each week. If the parents of a household are doing all of the serving, then things are out of balance. And I know it is much simpler and faster to clean a bathroom yourself than train (and retrain) a child to do it, but the investment in time and energy is worth it.
Get a pdf of one of my most popular posts for a list of basic habits you’ll want to teach your children along with tips for how to train them by clicking on the image below.
In fact, training your children to help with household tasks is something is crucial to a well-run home and family. Not only does this make your job more manageable, and it does, but you are also teaching your kids how to be an active and important part of your family.
As well, children will someday be spouses and parents themselves (God willing) and have their own families to take care of, so they might as well get some training in the household responsibilities now.
Serving others outside the family can include the following:
- bringing in a neighbor’s paper and mail while he is traveling
- mowing a lawn for a single mom of small children
- watching a young mother’s baby so she can rest
- helping to make and deliver a meal for someone who is ill or after a death in the family
Let your children be a part of this! And when they are old enough, give them opportunities to minister to another culture. This may be helping with a food bank or soup kitchen locally. Or it may mean going on a missions trip to a poor area of the U.S. or to a foreign country. And it’s even better when you can do some of these types of service as a family. This can bring your family closer and can be life-changing!
Homeschooling provides such a fertile atmosphere for shaping and molding your kids’ hearts. I’m so grateful to have that opportunity, and it is going all too quickly! Now as our Christmas vacation draws to an end and my daughter is making plans to go back to college, I am so thankful to see some of the fruit of our labors.
And her grades, you ask? Well, let’s just say she has a lot to live up to next semester!
I hope and pray you’ll also have the opportunity to write your own “Reflections with my oldest in college” post or journal entry someday!
P.S. If you’d like to train your children in good habits but don’t know where to start, click on the graphic below to get a pdf of Basic Habit Training. It includes a list of habits and how to get started! If the idea of habit training your children is new to you, you need this.