It happens every few months or so. I hear about a new math curriculum or read a beautiful blog post about literature based learning or see yet another parent intensive (but oh so tempting and fun!) learning activity pinned on Pinterest. The doubt tries to wiggle its way in and my confidence in what we've been doing can begin to crumble.
They're doing something better.
That curriculum will make it all easy!
Self, why don't you do all those fun science experiments with your kids?
You've never even HEARD of most of the books on that list of great books, let alone read them. What in the world do you think you're doing teaching these kids?
Why don't your kids know that (insert random educational fact/topic here) yet?!?!
I'm getting better at ignoring the voices.
But sometimes, I admit, the only thing that keeps me going is knowing that the curriculum and educational method they'd be receiving in an institutional setting around here would be worse than what even I am doing. And sometimes I get angry that I don't know these things that it seems every other good homeschooling mother knows intuitively. Great books. Obscure poetry references. How to diagram a sentence. (I still don't actually know what that means.) Oh, crud, history. Why didn't I learn this stuff?
Of course, I could do intensive study into All the Things Your Children Should be Learning in Homeschool (and I've done a bit) but dinner.
There are times when I am confident in our curriculum and the way my kids are learning. And there are seasons or sometimes just days or moments where I am not. I think that's okay. It's okay to reevaluate what is working and what is not. It's a prudent and humble thing to be willing to change things up as needed. Provided, of course, that you don't lose your mind or your peace in the process.
Once upon a time I was desperate to choose a program that we could start when my oldest was of Kindergarten age and could be our family's program forever and ever amen. I just wanted to pick the best already designed program out there and never have to think about it again.
My oldest was just a baby and I remember talking with some homeschooling moms at a park date. I mentioned that I just wanted all my books to look the same, be the same size, and be nice and organized on the shelf. Oh, and have desks. We must have the desks. (Obvious high educational standards.) My friend laughed and said, "You're totally going to be a Seton mom." Sounded good to me even though at that time I had no idea what a Seton was. Fast forward eight years and ends up I don't own and have never owned a book from Seton.
What happened in the meantime is that God intervened. And when God works, it's not all nice and neat and prepackaged on a shelf. At least not with me. He asks me to live life and trust Him, disordered shelves and all, pulling and dragging me out of my comfort zones. He tells me that this homeschooling thing is HIS work, not mine. And we are going to do it His way. He has called me to do this work and He will provide the resources necessary to complete it well.
And, yes, He needs to remind me of this truth over and over and over and over.
I don't necessarily like that. I want to know what the plan is and feel like I have it all under control all the time. But when I look back, I can see that He has continually provided the right books, extracurricular opportunities, and support that I needed right when we needed it. (Oftentimes it's even in the form of that new math curriculum, that inspiring blog post, or that super fun activity from Pinterest.) I don't have a clue what our homeschooling will look like in five years but I do know that He will provide and that He has proved over and over that He is worthy of my trust. For some people, God pulling them out of their comfort zone and asking them to trust may look like moving toward that pre-packaged all-inclusive program. The important thing is, He's in charge of both.
The more I looked into curricula, like many, I realized I wasn't satisfied with any of the programs on their own and I begrudgingly began to piece things together that worked for us. I have had to come to a gradual acceptance that my books won't match and I might have to switch programs from year to year, child to child. I've had to learn to trust that He will provide the right resources at the right time. And I've had to learn to trust that He will make up for all that I am lacking. And as I look back I can see that He has always always provided for our homeschool. Whether it was a semester of trying this or an opportunity for lessons for this child placed right in my path or providing just the right books for a steal at that random garage sale I just happened to stop at, He has provided and provided well. Because He cares and He loves and this homeschool here? It's His.
Here's what I want other homeschooling (or thinking about homeschooling) parents to know: If He calls you to it, He will provide for you, too. He will. I promise.
You don't need to know it all. You don't need to have your homeschooling act all together in kindergarten and have a detailed map of how it all will work. You don't need to know what calculus program you will be using for high school when you're simply trying to teach first grade. You'll figure it out when you get there. You don't need to worry that your kids are not doing All The Things. It's better that they don't. Really. No, really. You don't need to label yourself a sports family or a dance family or a science family or a whatever family. You don't need to observe every liturgical feast with tea and a homemade dessert. And you don't need perfectly arranged books on a shelf. It might not be what you pictured homeschool to be, but it will be GOOD and RIGHT if it is His.
If He has called you to it, He will provide. Not always years, months, or even days beforehand but He will. Sometimes it's a day to day, moment to moment exercise in trust as He doles out what you will need just for that day. Sometimes it's through some books passed down by a friend or the lady at church who offers to teach your kids something you don't know. Sometimes it's with grandparents willing to take the toddler once a week or the blog post you happened to stumble upon. Sometimes it's the perfect app to help your child get that tough concept or the field trip organized by a friend. He provides.
This homeschooling gig is a lesson in trust, in humility, in grace, in patience, and in pretty much every virtue there is. It is a lifestyle, to be sure. A lifestyle that forms us as parents and as a family, helps us to grow in relationship with God and just so happens to also teach our children their multiplication tables.
A few of the (many) lessons I've gleaned in these homeschooling years so far:
•DON'T think that just because you question your curriculum or even your qualifications that you are not supposed to homeschool. Every mom has those moments or even seasons of doubt. That doesn't mean you completely ignore them, of course, but don't buy into thinking that doubt means that you aren't supposed to do this. Every single person God has called to do something great has doubted their abilities. It's actually a good thing.
•It's okay to not have it all planned out. Do your legwork, of course. Know what your major goals are for your children and your minor goals for the year. Look for the best way to accomplish those things that will work for your family. But it's okay if you don't know how you will fit in All The Things. There is always next year.
•Pray about your curriculum choices. Don't fall into the lie of thinking that God doesn't care about such small things. If your homeschooling girlfriend cares enough to talk about your dilemma of selecting this grammar curriculum or that one for ten minutes, then surely He wouldn't mind you asking His advice, too. You are forming the minds of His children. That's not too small for Him. It doesn't need to be elaborate. Just throwing up a small prayer for discernment and guidance as you're making your plans goes a long way when you factor in grace.
•Trust that He will provide. Your children's education is important to God. It is vital to them becoming the people He created them to be. Their minds, after all, are a part of their souls! He has called you to give yourself to your children in this way and He will provide the opportunities and curriculum that they need and He will make up for the areas where you lack. He will take the raw material you give, supplement it with an abundance of grace, and it will be enough.
•But with that said, don't sweat The (ever elusive) Perfect Curriculum. Choose the best one you can that fits your family and go with it. Your curriculum is not the be all and end all of your children's well-being or even their education. Somehow we all managed to read despite many of us not having that PERFECT reading curriculum used when we were little. It's okay. I am also continually surprised at the things my children have learned that were never part of our formal curriculum but they learned through reading, life, and normal conversation. Don't feel guilty if, especially in a bigger family, you can't cater to each one of your children's learning styles in every subject. They learn from that, too. They learn how to learn in different ways and how to adapt. Know that your curriculum will never be perfect and your children will still be okay.
•Don't forget to give your children, this homeschool, to HIM. Remember that these children, this work you're doing, is His first.
You CAN do this, homeschooling mom.
More importantly, HE can do this. He loves you and He loves your children,
I promise you, He will provide.
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