My first child is graduating in a little over a hundred days. It seems like yesterday that we began this journey of learning together. I can still see her in the little school desk that Great-Grandma Saylor gave us. I can see her tiny hands, her blonde bangs, her big smile that revealed baby teeth. I can hear myself say, “Welcome to the first day of Kindergarten!” to my one and only pupil. She was grinning from ear to ear, and I was too.
The experience has been full of highs and lows. I can remember getting so frustrated (and feeling like a failure) because she couldn’t read a blend, or remember what 6 + 2 was. I can remember all the laughs we had trying to think of ways to recall spelling words or rules of math. I remember all the times we snuggled up, enjoying a book together. I can vividly recall the joy I felt when she learned to read well, and then later, when she loved to read (and feeling stupid for worrying that she couldn’t read that blend in first grade). I remember beaming as I read one of her essays in 6th grade, or feeling warmth in my heart as she expressed her opinion on a part of history, or a piece of literature…she was thinking, and debating. Those are good things for us to do. She has helped me see the other side of many issues, and maybe a few times, she’s even been right. 😉
I have had a front row seat to everything she has learned, and it’s been wonderful. Frankly, I don’t want it to end. I’m grateful that she won’t be leaving soon, because her absence would leave a gaping hole in my life. She is planning on attending a university in our town, so I am excited about having a front row seat to her college experience, too. I’m also happy that I have four more children to love on, read with, listen to, and from whom I can learn even more lessons. Here a few of them:
- Walking with the Lord is the secret to everything in life, especially homeschooling. As a Christian, it didn’t take long to see that I can’t do much – homeschooling, or anything else – without spending time with the Lord, mostly on my knees. I can remember so many times over the years that I have lost my cool while trying to explain something, or overreacted to a situation. I can remember saying the wrong things to my children and seeing that pained look in their eyes. In pains me now to think of it! All I can do is cry out to God for help and forgiveness. I do the best I can, but I must depend on the Lord’s mighty power to do as He pleases in their lives. And that is my prayer! I pray they will be saved, and I tell them the gospel. The rest is, and will be, the Lord’s doing.
- Asking my children to forgive me is hard, but worth it. As I mentioned above, I often do the wrong things or say the wrong things to my children. I ask the Lord to forgive me, and I ask them to forgive me, too. I used to say things like, “I’m sorry for snapping at you, but I’m just so tired.” Then I realized that by saying “I was just so tired,” that I was giving myself a free pass to have done wrong. It’s hard to say, “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I have no excuse. Please forgive me.” It’s humbling, and it’s not my favorite thing to do at all, but the benefits are beyond description.
- Starting the day with spiritual things is paramount. Over the years, I have done everything from starting the day with a short prayer with the children, to reading a chapter of Proverbs. Currently, we are reading one chapter out of a devotional series each morning. When I finish it, I am not sure what I will do next. But what I do isn’t as important as doing something. Prayer, Bible reading or memorization, it’s all crucial and should be first thing each day. If I teach my children to read, but do not read to them the greatest words ever written, the Bible, then I have lost a golden opportunity to plant Gospel seeds in their hearts.
- Homeschooling moms must be disciplined. There must be some type of schedule, it can be any kind, starting any time of day, but it must be consistent. Children thrive with a schedule. It offers security and stability and makes motherhood easier. It’s hard to get up and get going at the same time and do the same things for 170+ days of the year, but it’s vital to success.
- The most important lessons are not in textbooks. I love to learn, and knowledge is important. But what good is knowledge if your kid is a jerk who can’t share, show respect, or work with others? My favorite quote is by the gold medal winning ice skater, Scott Hamilton. He said, “The only disability is a bad attitude.” Amen to that. My uncle is a paraplegic. He is also a farmer who owns thousands of acres of land. He grows wheat, soybeans, milo, corn, and he owns cattle. He is handicapped…or is he? He never complains, he rises before dawn, works long ours in the heat/rain/wind. He uses his upper-body strength to climb up into tractors and combines. He doesn’t quit. He tells a joke better than anyone I know. I smile just thinking about him. He has a good attitude and that has made all the difference. He has been an outstanding example to my children over the years as I have tried to teach them what makes the difference between average and above average. All I have to say is, “Look at Uncle Gary.”
My children make each day an adventure! I love being with them. I have a lot of excitement in my life because I am a homeschooling mom.
And I wouldn’t want it any other way.