When homeschool moms talk shop, there’s a topic that is not politic or polite to bring up. There’s a secret that some moms are afraid to bring up and others don’t yet know.
We need to talk about it. We need to own it.
When homeschool moms get together, they chat about curriculum, schedules, checklists, books, methods – all necessary details, but there’s something missing.
So, let’s be honest and get this one out in the open. The truth will not be less true if we ignore it.
The most significant factor in any homeschool is not method or curriculum, but the homeschool mom herself.
For those of us who know it, perhaps we’re afraid to scare others off of homeschooling. Perhaps we don’t want to bring it up when troubleshooting because it sounds mean.
It is scary.
But when we own the responsibility of setting the tone and the direction of our homeschools – not by our plan, but by our moment-by-moment actions and attitudes – we’ll learn another secret that shouldn’t be a secret:
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
This truth is so important it’s stated verbatim twice in the New Testament – both in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5.
Don’t be afraid to face up to both your inadequacy and your responsibility. God gave you the responsibility, the good works to walk in, and will supply your strength.
Homeschooling is a sanctification sauna. Our impurities are forced out by the heat of the setting. We can wave our fans or drink cold water trying to prevent the sweat and look calm and cool even in the midst of unnatural temperatures, or we can embrace where we are and let it to its work – this is good for us, and God is the one who put us here and will give us the shower we need to clean up and be fit for His presence in the end.
Who you are, who we are, as homeschooling moms, is the most important part of our homeschools.
Let’s own it.
Mom is the atmosphere of the home, and that goes double for the homeschool.
Do your kids love reading? Start by asking if you do.
Do your kids want to learn? Start by asking if you do.
Do your kids get their work done without dawdling? Start by asking if you do.
We want these things for our children because they are good things. They are part of a strong, virtuous character. Therefore, we need to pursue them ourselves.
As you deal with your children, deal with yourself always and first.
Again, that goes double for homeschool moms. The more time our kids are in our presence and under our guidance, the more it matters how we speak, act, and live.
Your children are not influenced by your words. If you’ve been homeschooling for any length of time, you’ve seen this truth. Perhaps you thought something was wrong and you just needed to shout louder or speak more often.
Our children are influenced by our lives – by our words, actions, and demeanor all wrapped into a single package.
There’s a special word for people who try to influence with words only: hypocrites.
Homeschooling is rife with the potential to be a hypocrite. We must remain humble and repent every time it happens and choose to examine ourselves even as we examine our children.
Yes, our cheerfulness and humor or lack thereof will make a difference in our homeschool. But more than that, our humility or lack thereof will tell.
Without humility, there is no learning.
For further reading:
- Scholé Sisters episode 26: Education is an Atmosphere
- Choose Your Attitude by Pam Barnhill
- Three Keys to an Organized Attitude by Mystie Winckler
Homeschool moms are rarely teachers in the common sense. Most do not have teaching degrees and those that do say they don’t help much. It makes sense. We don’t stand up front and present material, lecturing and then testing. We are on crowd control, but our crowds consist of babies and toddlers, not twenty or more peers.
Homeschool moms teach the old-school way – the ancient way. We live with our students, talking, questioning, guiding, demonstrating.
In a word, we disciple.
The thing is, we are discipling even if we aren’t doing so intentionally. Its simply the nature of our lifestyle. So the more intentionally we do so, the more effective we will be and also the more satisfied we will be in our role.
It’s ok if we can’t explain that algebraic formula or if our students pass us up in writing or Latin or simply accumulated history knowledge. It’s easy to panic when they outpace us – but instead we should rejoice.
Our role is not in directly imparting everything they need to know. We can get help for that. Our role is in seeing them, hearing them, training them, loving them, and holding them accountable.
For further reading:
- Homeschool Mom, You’re Not a Teacher by Mystie Winckler
- 10 Habits of Every Great Teacher at CiRCE (i.e. What really matters)
We’ve invested not only time and energy into choosing our curriculum options, but even a sizable chunk of our budget.
We don’t want it to be wasted. We want to get the most out of it.
But we must not let the curriculum become the boss of us. It is a tool and not a master, even if we’ve invested quite a bit into it. It’s only going to do us as much good as we pull out of it – it’s our action that makes the difference.
You’re in charge.
You can pick and choose. You don’t have to do every page to have “done” the course. You can do the work alongside your student or assign it independently. You can
Yes, this is a responsibility that requires wisdom. If we’re willy-nilly doing as we please with the curriculum, we’re going to get willy-nilly, halfhearted learning out of it.
On the other hand, if we’re observant and discerning, we’ll be doing what needs to be done to reach our children.
Regardless of how the curriculum tells you to use it, you are the one who bears the responsibility for its effect, and so you are the one invested with authority to apply it for the good of your children and family.
Charlotte Mason calls this the “thinking love” that mothers owe to their children – to pay attention, know their own children’s needs, and make wise decisions in planning and also in the moment of learning.
You’re not a pawn in the curriculum’s strategy. It is a pawn in yours. It is not the boss. You are.
As a homeschooling mother, you cannot take a backseat and let others dictate what must be done and how each step of the way.
If you wish your children to use their brains, you must first use yours.
For further reading:
Related: 3 Things That Spoil a Homeschool Morning
Earlier this week I hosted this live chat about what to do when days break bad – because they do and they will. As the homeschool mom, we are the ones responsible to lead in right and true responses. We set the tone, whether we like it or not.
So here’s the nitty-gritty tip that looks as blah as I feel on a typical gray morning, but works as potently as a (second) cup of coffee.
I keep a few pages of verses, quotes, and catch-phrases handy so I can continually fill my mind with truth and make it easier to remember and act on what I know rather than how I feel.
I call it a prep sheet. It’s simple, straightforward, and maybe a little silly, but it works for me – and I think it’ll work for you, too.