In the beginning I thought that I could handle this task of teaching my children at home without interrupting my lifestyle very much or for very long. I had visions of quiet and obedient children quickly absorbing pages of information at the first hearing. These same children would become modern-day Davids and Josephs as we explored Bible truths together. Crafty projects and family games would be commonplace occurrences. The final touch to this daydream was that in the midst of all this higher learning, the house would stay clean!
Home schooling certainly teaches all of us many different lessons. Those lessons extend far beyond spelling, history, and multiplication tables. For me, the home teaching experience is a sifting process—sifting reality from daydreams, sifting truth from deception, and sifting the real people in my family from the ones that I tried to make them. To summarize all the lessons is not easy. The list of possibilities would fill several pages, so I have simply selected three to share with you.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” “Never give up.” “Try, try again.” “Slowly but surely wins the race.” These little phrases represent one of the best lessons I have learned in the past years. My tendency is to do all of everything today. If a task cannot be done in a day, I am prone to put it aside altogether. It is easily seen how people do not fit into this one-day plan and so get put aside for dishes, dusting, bill paying, or anything that lets me see what I have accomplished.
Now God is helping me to see that the people in my life are the real priority. With faithfulness and consistent effort, learning takes place. A little bit at a time, large tasks are whittled away to nothing. Rushing, hurrying, and demanding are all tactics that lead to discouragement and frustration, but consistent, day-by-day effort will see any job done.
This lesson of consistency goes hand-in-hand with the lesson of cooperation. Because this business of teaching at home is so time consuming, I quickly realized that there was definitely a limit to what I could accomplish alone. Before home schooling I thought that it was my responsibility to attempt to do everything for my family. Now I understand that it is wrong for me to even try. The Bible teaches that Christians are all part of the body of Christ, working together for God’s glory. The same principle applies at home. My family needs to be necessary. They need to be involved at home in order to acquire the skills to one day be involved in their church, community, and the world. In each place, they will make a difference because of the Christ Who lives within them and guides them.
Finally, home schooling is the sifter that refines my personal beliefs, especially those beliefs about freedom. My life has always been clouded by a desire for approval from those around me. The pressure to do and to be what would please everyone around me was suffocating. My lifestyle was frantically paced, doing many things but never relating to people. Worst of all, I began trying to force my children and husband into this distorted image of the responsible person. The anxiety and tension this created were tremendous. God rescued me from this trap of my own making. In this day-by-day routine at home, my life could be seen for what it really was—a lie. God freed me to be just who I am, to see my children as He made them, and to love my husband just as he is right now. Real freedom begins within and demonstrates itself in my attitude and actions toward others.
In the beginning I planned to homeschool my children for a couple of years. I reasoned that after I had taught them the basics, they would be ready to go back into the public school system. Two years of maternal sacrifice was all they would need to be on the road to success. Well, that daydream bubble burst, too. Consistency, cooperation, and freedom are just a starting place for all God has to teach this family. Through the sifter of home schooling, God has begun a good work in this mother and family, and I know that He will faithfully complete that work.