Oh, the things I would have done differently in homeschooling.
It’s been twenty years since I began my homeschooling journey with my children. My eldest son, then three, was my first “guinea pig.” I say “guinea pig” because I didn’t know much about home education so even though I‘d purchased about a hundred cassettes (some of you young’uns might not know what these are—count your blessings) on the subject, and spent about a thousand bucks at CHEA (Christian Homeschool Educators’ Association) on materials, this was my first attempt at something like this.
Since I was new at homeschooling, and the idea that my child’s future depended so much on me, I felt the weight of this responsibility heavily upon my shoulders.
My motto was (and to some extent still is,) “do my best, and God will do the rest.”
Except what is my best, really?
It was a sliding scale.
Each time when morning was over and we finished the lessons for the day I never felt I had done my best. No matter what I tried, and no matter how hard my son concentrated on his classwork. I became more obsessed trying newer and better techniques—learn by doing, learn by reading, learn by listening, and any number of combinations thereof. I became a curriculum junkie, purchasing every curriculum I could get my hands on—mostly Christian ones, but some other texts with proven track records, like Calvert for instance. In all this my frustration mounted.
Why? Because no one method seemed right. Undaunted, I listened to even more studies on homeschooling, more advice, more anything.
And in all this I forgot two important things:
That I was homeschooling firstly, for the Lord, and secondly, for my son. I became so goal-oriented to make my son a genius that it was at the expense of my relationship with him. I pushed him more and more to raise the bar because of my own need to excel.
Frankly, I am all for excellence, even now, but I see how foolish I had been. Striving for excellence is always an admirable goal, but not at the expense of a longer term objective, which is to present Christ to my child as the gentle shepherd and the bright and morning star that aims to guide him in his life’s walk, and not as a slave driver with the whip and a glaring flashlight focused on smarting his inquisitive young eyes.
So in all this, was it a mistake to homeschool? Was it a lost cause?
I’d say no. My son has faults—as we all do. But he loves the Lord, in spite of my poor representation of Jesus on earth—for that’s what we parents all are, a representation of God to our children.
If I Could Go Back…
If I were given another go at this, I’d gladly forfeit doing things the right way for doing the right things—which is to model God’s gentle character embodied in 1 Corinthians 13 to my son. I would be less of a zealot and more moderate in my expectations. Expectations of my son, and also of myself. Because that’s where I fell. I set a lofty standard and when I couldn’t achieve it my frustrations came out as forms of disappointments, and children have a knack of knowing when their parents are disappointed in them, and strangely they live up to this disappointment, sadly.
Thank God we live under Grace, because I can never take back my harsh words. Or my wrong “methods,” but the Lord can redeem our time. He can redeem our mistakes. He can help me learn from my poor judgment, and hopefully others can learn from them too.
I wish I can say that I have this thing called “parenting” or “homeschooling” down pat. But I don’t.
I still fall short, still flounder, and still go down rabbit holes.
But one thing I’d learned from my mistakes in homeschooling is that the Lord will make up for me, make up for lost time, and give me that which I do not deserve. And I know He has this for you, too.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 15:57,58
By the way, by God’s infinite Grace, my son has gone on to win many national debate tournaments and, having graduated from university, is now a successful executive in a thriving well-known corporation.