I think most of us have in mind a homeschool journey that is full of serene, orderly days when we first start out. We plan for smooth schedules and obedient, enthusiastic children. But, as we try to teach them, we keep running up against something.
- You ask your daughter to read a paragraph and she has a meltdown.
- Your son gives you an attitude when you explain another way to work out a math problem.
- Your kids start fighting over who’s going to do which part of the science experiment.
Or maybe you have lofty goals of your children becoming world changers, but you seem to be stuck in a never-ending loop of correcting the same behaviors.
If homeschooling isn’t going to “fix them”, then why bother?
Too many moms give up on homeschooling or are reluctant to even start because their relationship with their child is fraught with tension, and only exacerbated by the demands of home education.
We begin to think they’d be better off being taught by someone else. I believe that, underneath it all, what we’re really saying is, “This is HARD!”
Should that come as a surprise though?
Home education is messy. It is dealing with and confronting the effects of the Fall head-on, up close and personal.
Brokenness is felt keenly every day in my homeschool, and there is no 6-7 hour per weekday escape from it. No reprieve from the sinful behavior my kids’ display and the sinful responses they provoke in me.
Comparatively, it can seem far, far easier to send children away to be taught by others. It involves less time, less trauma, less turmoil.
It would temporarily solve the discomfort of having to deal with your kids’ actions, but it would also bypass the sanctifying work of struggling through those problems with your child.
So when you want to quit homeschooling, do these 4 things instead
There’s nothing too hard for God.
When we quit homeschooling our children because of difficult relationship issues, we’re essentially saying that this is an area where He doesn’t have control.
If I’m at a loss about how I can help my kids, or how to reach them, I can seek God in prayer to receive these answers. After all, He knows each one intimately and is, therefore, able to help me discover their needs and how to train them as He intends.
He says to us, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Invite Him to step into that difficult situation and give you insight into your child’s behavior.
2. Adjust your expectations before you quit homeschooling
While the Lord is certainly able to change a landscape by storm in an instant, He often works by growing trees over a century.
We get so discouraged when our efforts don’t seem to be producing the fruit we want. But moms, it’s not time to reap yet.
Those first glimpses of the harvest will come into view if we do not give up.
Your daughter will eventually read through a book without pictures on every page, though it may not be on your timetable.
Your son will figure out long division, but it won’t necessarily be a result of that tried-and-true-works-for-everyone method.
All those teachable moments about kindness and self-control will begin to pay off.
For now, our job is to keep ensuring that the soil we’re raising our children in provides all the nutrients they need.
We need to tend to the “weeds” that pop up to allow them to grow towards their fullest potential.
And we keep praying and pressing into God.
3. Put aside academics for a season and focus on character
It’s hard to teach a child spelling or algebra if you haven’t first addressed character issues beneath the surface.
Their resistance to persevering through a tough subject, or receiving constructive criticism reveals a deeper heart issue.
I’ll be honest, though. I don’t like interruptions in my days.
It’s much easier to just ignore the disrespect, laziness, and whining so I can continue on with my agenda and mark everything “done” for the day.
But our job is to train and discipline our kids, no matter how hard or frustrating it gets.
Character cannot be sacrificed at the expense of academics.
Use these struggles to shape their character, and point them back towards scripture. Using God’s Word to discipline is instrumental in developing internal motivation, along with the fruits of the spirit.
These, in turn, will help your child put forth their best efforts in their school work!
So much of home education involves teaching those things which are not strictly academic.
4. Change your own heart
We can be our child’s best advocate sometimes, or their worst enemy.
When we recognize that our frustration and impatience during the school day is getting the better of us and contributing to the problem, this is a perfect opportunity for sanctification.
The Bible says we shouldn’t exasperate our children (Colossians 3:21) or provoke them to wrath (Ephesians 6:4).
We’re often quick to assume that homeschooling has to go, though.
We believe that by removing it from the equation, that will restore peace. But this is only an external factor. In the meantime, we’ve failed to work on our own hearts.
It’s possible that we are short-circuiting the work God wants to do in us through our children.
Our child’s behavior could be triggering something in us from our past that we never dealt with. Or their behavior is a reflection of our own, reminding us of our weaknesses and failures.
Homeschooling cannot replace the true, life-altering change that comes only through personally knowing Christ, but it can be a tool that He uses to refine us.
Instead of quitting homeschooling, pause and ask yourself what God may be trying to teach you through this difficult season. Ask for Him to increase your self-control with regards to your tongue and temper.
Surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit. He gave you these children, and He will give you the power to change also!
Remember these 4 things and do them the next time you want to quit homeschooling.
Marisa is a homeschooling mom of two and author of Bucking The System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds For Christ, published in January 2016. She writes to encourage women to find purpose and joy in their God-given calling as mothers, helping them raise children with a biblical worldview. She relies on Jesus and coffee to get her through the day, and loves marveling at the cultural differences between New Jersey where she grew up and Oklahoma where her family has been transplanted! You can find more of her writings over at Called To Mothering.
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Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!