This is one of those posts I've been mulling over for weeks, feeling prompted to share, as I pray for so many people who are homeschooling, and as the years go by, I add more and more children to the mix, and so do most of my friends! And I'm passionate about mothering and homeschooling.
I've given this talk before at homeschool meetings, and written this post before, but I'm not going to even refer to my notes or my old post. Because we grow. I grow. This is my eleventh year of homeschooling now. I now have a college graduate (homeschooled through college), one beginning high-schooler, one middle/upper elementary, two beginning elementary, and one Tasmanian-Devil-related 2-year-old... oh, and one on the way, due late April 2014. And, the past three years, I had my turn at chronic illness--long hospitalizations, ICU, saying goodbyes, and many months as a invalid. That taught me some things!
I'm going to break this down into bits and do a series. One or two things at a time.
But, God bless you all and your homeschooling. If you are a reader here, know I'm always praying for you in this area!
1. God first.
The commandment is simple--the first and greatest commandment, that is: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, and strength." "Seek first the kingdom of God." How to do this? First of all, just don't SAY it. Do it. Do your children SEE you putting God first in your life? In your home? Most homeschooling families I meet put the academics first, in the name of God. The children are taught (hounded) to get their schoolwork done more than they are urged to love and obey God. They see mom stressing about the academics, not stressing about how much the family is learning the things of God.
I finally made a solemn pact with my children to keep myself from falling into this human trap (which I was always doing): We don't do ANY other school until our Bible lesson is done. We learn God first. But not just first. Always. I try to put God in every subject, every lesson, and as many moments as possible. I point out the miracles in math, science. We assess history lessons according to wisdom and foolishness. Our work and play, I try to give continual encouragement and praise for working "as unto the Lord." I encourage love and forgiveness, always reminding them of what Jesus did to make our forgiveness possible. I find moments to speak of eternity--to teach my children to think eternal (something I'm still struggling to learn, WAY too late in the game!).
There is God, and there is nothing else. If you seek and teach God first, you will be lacking nothing. Not even the math and the history and the science. First comes wisdom, then knowledge. That is a Biblical Principle. If you seek knowledge first, you will get knowledge. Worldly knowledge. A house built upon the sand. Don't do that and don't let your kids do that!
If your homeschool is chaotic, behind, stressful: I guarantee you are not putting God first in practice. I give you a challenge, because you can put Him to the test. Teach only God for 30 days. Put up your school books for 30 days. Tell your children, "We're putting God first." SHOW them God is the most important. Live it. If you sit for any lesson, open the Bibles or Godly stories, read verses and discuss them for what they mean to them. For the rest of the day, talk about God and His perfection, ways, and commandments as much as possible. Are you eating lunch? Discuss the wisdom of what you're eating and how to "eat as unto the Lord." Talk about making wise choices to please God (health lesson done). Are you doing chores? Have the children visualize how to complete that chore "as unto the Lord." Have your children evaluate their home, their toys, their actions, their movies, books, and TV shows according to God and His commandments and wisdom. Have your children evaluate how they are treating each other? In brotherly love? Charity?
Oh, did I mention this will hold you pretty accountable to God, too? Consider that a bonus. :-)
If you find you have time to get the schoolwork out (which you probably will), choose prayerfully what is most important/appropriate for each child (different for each), and encourage the children to complete it "as unto the Lord." "Oh, look at your beautiful handwriting! God is pleased when you do your work so nicely!" Assess the schoolwork in wisdom. How much is too much? Is your child just doing busy work? Stressing over learning unnecessary things? What, in God's eyes (not the world's standards), is it WISE for your children to learn? And how much? (Each child is different!) Watch them and pray. Let your children see you are consulting God on all matters. I will discuss this much further in other points!
At the end of 30 days, if you do this, I guarantee you will be amazed at how things have changed. Most likely you will find the chores are getting done, and more schoolwork than ever is getting done, and getting done well.
There is God, or there is nothing. Offer your children God, or you give them nothing! All your years of mothering and homeschooling will be "wasted." But God is good. He "rebuilds the old wastes,", and "raises up former desolations." (Isaiah 61:4)--Oh! Praise Him for that! He's had to do a lot of rebuilding of wastelands in this home! He continues to raise up beauty out of the ashes of desolation I have sometimes made! He repairs, heals.
But. You've got to put Him first.