It’s February. Like clockwork homeschool moms hit burn out mode this time of year.
Yes, it might be cloudy skies, lack of sleep, or holiday sugar-binges catching up with us, but if it’s a serious case – a break-the-pencils, I-quit sort of case – we will probably need to dig a little deeper.
You know I’ve said you have to have a homeschool vision and you need solid principles, but these February days are where the rubber meets the roads and we find out whether or not we have any traction left. You know what gives us traction? Sound principles. Solid goals. Real purpose.
Why are you homeschooling?
If you are homeschooling for scholarships, college entrance, or good test scores, then you have no reason not to quit when the foggy days seem endless. If that’s what you are hoping for, then those goals can be achieved by a public school education and you can have your mornings and afternoons and sanity back.
If you are homeschooling for relationship with your children, there is nothing comparable to homeschooling. And those pull-your-hair-out days are all part of forming, building, strengthening, and holding onto those relationships. You’re all learning to live together, to love together, to keep going even when one person or everybody messes up.
If you are homeschooling so your kids can get good jobs then why not give up when the going gets tough? Your kids are likely to reach that goal just as readily from a public school education paired with a good home life.
If you are homeschooling so your children grow up with a functional, vibrant biblical worldview, one that not only takes the Bible seriously but is also deeply familiar with it, then you will have to homeschool (or live in a town with an exceptional school and have the cash to pay for it). Biblical knowledge and understanding takes time, conversation, leisure; it isn’t something that can be added like a cherry on top. Everything else must be pared back and simplified, made to orbit around this one central aim, or it will not be had; something else will be the center.
Homeschooling for relationships means that the lows as well as the highs are all building toward our aim. Homeschooling for virtue means that we must all put our heads down and stick to our course – learning perseverance, repentance, and fortitude is part of becoming virtuous. Homeschooling for God’s glory means that we must be willing to humbly offer our poor, weak efforts and trust that God is the One making something of them, of us, of our children.
In other words, if you are homeschooling for economic or performance reasons, then a series of bad days can be a sign of failure, that you are not reaching your desired ends: good grades, peaceful home, an impressive transcript.
If the checkmarks are the point, and the checkmarks aren’t checked, then it is time to give up and try something else.
But if you are homeschooling because of a deeper purpose, your hope is not set on your daily performance. Homeschooling from meaningful principles means that while those bad days feel like failing, they are all part of the path, leading you toward your aim.
You can’t have virtue without trial; you can’t have relationship without loyalty through good and bad; you can’t have God’s glory without giving up your own. It feels miserable in the moment, but the bad days are offerings of humility, something we give up to God and ask Him to do something with it, even though they’re terrible, rotten, no good. And He does.
The work is ours, the results are not.
We teach. We plan. We cry. We cajole. We repeat. We instruct. We ask for forgiveness.
They learn. We learn. They fuss. We call our fussing “being realistic.”
This life lived together is a furnace where all our imperfections flare up and make a display. The fact that we see our failings and faults and they are made obvious is not the problem – it is the grace. The sin is there whether we see it or not. These bad days that bring it to the forefront allow us to deal with it. That is our work: Repentance. All education is repentance.
We don’t have to grip the reins tight and assume the outcome is all on us. If we have been given the task of educating our children, we will be given the grace to do so. It might not feel like it, but it is true nonetheless. If we obey God – not by homeschooling, but by being loving, joyful, kind, peace-making, gentle, forgiving, and self-controlled – then we also relinquish control and allow God to do whatever He sees fit with our work. He decides.
Our work begins with ourselves. God’s will is our sanctification. For some of us, this path includes homeschooling. For our children, this path includes math and memory work and reading and maybe even Latin.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Good days and bad all shape us, all train us – us and our children. Hold tight to your higher purpose. Hold tight to your children. Hold tight to your God.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Do not give up.