Homeschooling is hard.
It is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually taxing work.
Homeschooling is physically difficult. There is wrangling of young children who don’t desire to be wrangled. Often, there is a lot of sitting, which can be surprisingly exhausting. There are sports and outdoor play and nature walks to take children on. And, let’s face it, when you (and your children!) are in your home so very much, there is that much more cleaning that ought to be done.
Homeschooling is mentally challenging. The teacher must have an understanding of all that she is teaching. Often she is teaching many different levels, jumping from one to the next at a moment’s notice. Even teaching a single lesson to a whole family has challenges because homeschooled kids can ask really tough questions and start moms down really deep rabbit trails. When you’ve explained the math lessons in more ways than you knew you knew, mental exhaustion seeps in.
Homeschooling is emotionally exhausting. Being with the same small people who may or may not cheerfully do what you want them to and who may or may not get along with you or each other in any given instance wears on a mom. Homeschool moms rarely get a break from being “responsible” for their young people so the smallest squabbles can grow into mountainous mutinies faster than mom can say Rumplestiltskin.
Homeschooling is spiritually tiring. When you are called to love others as you love yourself, repentance is more called for than this mom would like to admit – repentance both to the Lord and to the small children whom I’ve offended.
Homeschooling is hard work.
Why do it then?
Homeschooling is valuable work.
It is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually important work.
Homeschooling is physically important. Texas schools which provide four active recess breaks a day have found great strides in the attention – and, thus, achievement – of their students. Children who are regularly in the out of doors have a greater sense of creation and opportunities for wonder. Homeschool families have the ability to streamline lessons and provide vast swaths of free play time and access to the out of doors for their children.
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Homeschooling is mentally invigorating. While sometimes it’s hard to get the children to be actively engaged in lessons or ideas, when they do, it is beautiful. Just this month, after reading part of Pyle’s King Arthur describe Avalon, my oldest daughter said the description of the music reminded her of the Sirens from the Odyssey. Charlotte Mason asserts, education is a science of relations, then the connection my daughter made is an avenue for reflection and comparison. This sort of connection happens often and encourages me to redouble my efforts. It also encourages me to continue study on my own of topics that are of interest to me so I can make my own connections.
Homeschooling is emotionally fulfilling. Hugs, kisses, “You’re the best mommy!,” snuggles, laughter. They aren’t all day every day as the fantastical picture many of us build up in our minds, but they do happen. How many Latin lessons or narrations have I had a child on my lap? Hard to say. The times when your children work together beautifully and encourage one another are glimpses that can fill your heart for days. When they are working – individually or together – on those things which fill their souls with truth, goodness, and beauty … those are the moments, fleeting though they can be, when a mom’s heart sings.
Homeschooling is spiritually significant. We are called to walk and talk with our children on the pathways of life (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). Homeschooling has opportunities galore to walk humbly (Micah 6:8), put on compassion (Colossians 3:12), repent (oh so much repentance!). It affords us the opportunity – minute by minute – to exercise and model the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self control Galatians 5:22-23). In our homeschool, we begin our day with worship during Whatchamacallit (Circle Time) and end our day with a blessing. We call on the Lord in our distress. We teach our children to call on Him in confusion and dischord. His burden is easy and his yoke is light.
The value of being with my children; being the one to whom they vent their frustrations; and the one to whom they reveal their eureka! moments vastly outweighs the difficulty. Seeing their wonder, excitement, and struggles; counseling them in the midst of their temper tantrums, frustrations, and successes; encouraging them in their joy and sorrow are all privileges for the homeschool mom.
So, on the days when it’s hard – on the days when the yellow bus looks inviting – on the days when all you want to do is cry – cry out to God and remember the excellent things he has done and the joy that you really have in the difficulties. Be encouraged! Let Him be the one to make straight your paths.
Homeschooling is valuable work.