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Monday, July 21, 2014

Take the fear out of homeschooling.


I know it well. It is something I have lived with since childhood, and it is what brought me to want to know Jesus in the first place. I write this, because I know what it is like first hand.

It almost becomes second nature to us mamas. We can be so steeped in anxiety that we don't even realize we are parenting in fear. We are afraid of bad influences, that our house isn't clean enough, that we are some how messing up our children because we yelled at them, that the other parents in the grocery store are judging us because of a two year old having a temper tantrum. I could go on...

Then, on top of all our mandatory mommy duties,  add in the responsibility of educating, and preparing our littles for the "real world" academically, and it can be down right frightening.

Fear comes from believing lies from the enemy. All of the, "what ifs" that will drive you crazy if you allow them to. What if I do it wrong, what if I am not doing enough, what if my child feels like they missed out on public school, what if they end up....gasp...unsocialized?

You cannot just eliminate fear and then go on thinking about nothing and hope the fear doesn't come back. You have to replace the fear with something. The opposite of fear, is faith. Do you feel like God wants you to homeschool? Then have the faith that he will equip you with everything you need, (I am not saying he will make it easy *smile*), including creativity, patience, and energy to do all that you need to. When you feel that fear rising up, take it to Jesus in prayer.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you." - 1 Peter  5:7

The truth is, you will do some things "wrong" when homeschooling, and there will be times when your patience is worn thin. God doesn't expect you to be perfect. No matter how it may seem, no parent "has it all together". God knows in advance when you will mess up, and He is waiting there to fill in the gaps where you fail. He gave you your child to love and teach knowing full well all about your short comings.

Also, maybe....just maybe somehow your mistakes will benefit your children. It is ok for them to see that you are human, and in need of a savior too. If they see you humble yourself and ask for forgiveness after snapping at them for not paying attention to you while you spent all morning trying to help them understand how two dimes is worth more then ten pennies, you model what they should do when later they snap at a brother or sister.

Worrying about your kids feeling slighted by not attending public school, or that they will be unsocialized?

The truth about this one is, all of the kids (including adults who were homeschooled as children) that I have spoken to really cherish the time spent building those relationships in their families. They are SO thankful to have been homeschooled, and to have had the focused attention during class time. The idea that homeschooled kids are unsocialized is false from what I have experienced. Kids that are allowed to meet and talk to people of many different ages, occupation, and cultures during school hours (maybe on a field trip), rather then just their peer group, benefit in many ways from those experiences. It is good for them to socialize with the elderly, as well as those who are younger then they are while out and about. My oldest has never been to day care or public school and has a great time in the grocery store, telling strangers jokes and making them smile as we make our way through the shopping list. She is not the socially awkward child hiding behind my legs as some unfortunate homeschooler stereotypes portray.

 If you are still worried about the socialization aspect, in many states you can pick and choose public school classes such a gym, music, or extra curricular activities that your children can participate in, if you are so inclined. You don't have to do all or nothing with homeschool. Flexibility is part of the beauty of being in charge or your children's education. Also church is a wonderful place for peer socialization.

If you are worried that you are not a good enough teacher, or that you won't be doing "enough", let me help calm those fears. First of all there are curriculums that will tell you exactly what to say if you are feeling inadequate while teaching. Once you get your rhythm and teaching style, you can vary lessons as you see fit. A great place to find curriculums is Christian Book Distribution. There is a little box in the side bar to begin a search for curriculums. Don't be afraid of asking for some back up from dad or a grandparent if say, math isn't your strong suit and it happens to be a subject they love.

Feeling like you will be doing "enough"? When you homeschool your time is very focused. Your children are not going down the hall or across a big school to get from one class to another. You are spending much more time "doing school" in a shorter period of time. There is a lot less time wasted, and your kids are getting "school concentrate", so it usually doesn't take as long as a full public school day.  Your children become human "doings" instead of just human beings.

Something else to consider while thinking about how many hours you put in a day, is that children need free time to explore gifts and talents and learn life skills outside of academics. Reading, writing and arithmetic are important, but so is learning how to do a load of laundry, work on a painting, follow a recipe, or even learning how to have a servants heart by help a sibling tie a shoe. Learning doesn't only happen during school hours.

Another thing that really helps my confidence with homeschooling is having a good solid plan so that you can see your goal in sight before you even start. You know the saying, "failing to plan is planning to fail".

Step #1 if this is your first year of homeschooling is finding out what your state requirements are. I live in the Green Mountain state of Vermont, and it is quite strict up here. Even with all of the regulations, I have never had a problem with fulfilling the requirements. If I can do it, so can you!
A good site to check in on your specific state is the homeschool legal defense website. Also known as HSLDA.

The first thing I do when preparing for a new school year is pray. I ask God to help me find a curriculum that would suit our needs academically and financially, help me to create a schedule, create meal plans for quick and easy meals, make sure my current cleaning schedule is working for us, and organize the school area and supplies for easy access. I take a piece of paper for each thing I just mentioned and work out each of them well before you start your year. I would recommend at least two weeks in advance to make sure you have some time to adjust to a new routine. I will be writing posts on how I do each of these things coming up.

Don't leave God out of the planning phase of your school year. It may seem like a small thing to bring to the King, but He really does care about how you manage your days. " Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your father's care". -Matthew 10:29
You are shaping the next generation, and soldiers for Christ, and it is important!

I encourage you to try and identify your fears, and ask God to reveal the lies that they each stem from. Satan want you paralyzed in a state of fear. He wants you to feel inadequate, stressed, hopeless, and discouraged. He is the father of lies, and you deserve to know the truth. The truth of this is that you are your child's best teacher, and spending your time, pouring your life into your them while schooling them will be an amazing growing experience for not only your children, but you as well. You will look back at the end, on your child's graduation day and be glad you did it!

How do you deal with the fear and stress surrounding homeschooling?

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