Our homeschool journey began in 2005 when my children were in fifth and third grades and continued until their graduations. One went on to college on an academic scholarship and graduated with honors, and one has been working since graduation.
During the years of our homeschooling, we moved to at least seven different places and then several times to different houses within those locations. Stops included Tennessee, eastern and western Missouri, one year on the island of Saipan, followed by Hawaii for six months of healthcare drama for my daughter (which included two major surgeries and another surgery later in Missouri). Our homeschooling journey ended in Alaska, from where we moved in 2016.
My point in telling you all of that is to explain that there was a lot going on during our years of homeschooling, and the feeling of being overwhelmed was not unknown to us. Most places we lived had no homeschool groups or co-ops of which I was aware. We did connect a little with a small group of homeschooling families in one Missouri town, but other than that, there was nothing really.
My son was a smart, physically active person who was short in patience at times, yet calm with a good heart. My daughter experienced serious health issues throughout her young life, but they were not fully understood until she was 12 years old. A heart defect took a toll on her engagement with people and her ability to learn some things. It was corrected when she was 12, but it made her patient, sweet, and thoughtful.
All parents are given children who are unique and beautiful. We must cultivate who they are to live a life in service to their King in His Church and in their communities. I would suspect that many parents who homeschool are seeking to do that very thing. It’s a tough job, and we can do it with His help!
There are so many biblical examples of people who are insufficient alone to the task at hand, but with the power of God, they do mighty things. The first one that comes to my mind is David as he faced the giant, Goliath. God’s whole army cowered in fear, because they believed no one was strong enough to defeat the giant. On one hand, they were right. Without God, upon whom David relied, no one was strong enough (1 Samuel 17).
When Elisha and his servant were being pursued by the Syrian army to Dothan, the servant woke to see the surrounding forces and feared because they were there to destroy Elisha. But, Elisha knew that God’s power was more than enough to care for them. Elisha prayed and God gave the servant a glimpse of the power prepared to defend the servant of God (2 Kings 6:8-18).
When Jesus and His disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and a storm arose as He slept, His disciples feared for their lives. When they woke Christ with their fear, He rebuked the sea and said to them, “Why are you afraid? Where is your faith? (Matthew 8:23-27).”
I am still working on putting aside fear, but I grow in trust and faith as life’s lessons remind me to go to God for help. A line from a children’s movie comes to mind. Dory is an absent-minded fish that often forgets where she is going. She urges herself on by singing, Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming! Just keep swimming, SWIMMING!”
Life can throw us some amazingly difficult curveballs, and when that happens, we need to keep swimming. When we rely on God to sustain us— to fight our battles for us— we know that we must keep pressing forward. Meet each challenge with prayer (Phil. 4:6). Make decisions based on studies of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15). Never fear people and their devices (Matt.10:28).
As a homeschooling parent, you may be part of a one-income family. Finances may be a constant concern. Books and resources have to be purchased on that one income, aside from normal family expenses. You long for a Pinterest-worthy homeschooling room, but you do what you have to with the cubbies and cabinets in the dining area.
I’ve heard many homeschool parents express fear when they have the unexpected come up, and their homeschool needs to take a hiatus of some sort. With international travel, moving, and surgeries, our homeschool struggled at times. As teaching parents, we should feel a driving sense of responsibility to our children, but we simply don’t control everything. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that our “classroom” can go anywhere, and we can teach in transition. Never let the stress take over your heart!
On the flip side, I did once know a woman who laughed often that she hadn’t done anything with her children in a “month”, and when her son was in my 4th and 5th grade Bible class, I found that he couldn’t read. It was a very bad situation, and she was quite vocal about her lax ways. She said she was just so busy with two children and her part-time hairdressing. In such a case, a person needs a fire lit under them.
Most often Christians educating their children at home are diligent, principled people, who would not short-change their children knowingly. When facing unforeseen stressful times, give yourself some grace, and remember that if your child misses a few lessons one year, or substitutes some of her normal studies for nature studies and reading, in the long run he or she will gain valuable life lessons.
We must be teaching our children a balanced life that includes academics and real life. A love for learning is a strong point in homeschooling situations I know. If school has to make some adjustments for the road bumps of life, then worrying and stressing won’t make it better.
“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming! Just keep swimming, SWIMMING!”
And, more importantly remember Christ’s words,
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? -Matthew 6:24-26