I ran into a mom I know from town the other day as we were both digging through piles of clothes at a local rummage sale. This mom, like me, has boys, and lots of them. So we have always had a nice connection as friends. As we were talking she said to me, “So, are you lovinghomeschooling?” I thought for a moment and decided I wanted to answer honestly just in case she was even considering it herself.
“It’s hard. It’s emotional. It’s draining. But I do love it, most of the time,” I said. She nodded in understanding and replied, “I just think it is courageous living.” My eyes widened and as I decided I liked the sound of that, “courageous living.” I replied with a laugh.
“Yeah, it does take courage,” I said.
No doubt, waking up every morning to teach my children takes courage.
Some mornings I am looking forward to what we have planned, some mornings I wish they were on a bus on their way to the local brick-box. Some mornings I have had the time to prepare the lessons that most fit each of their individual learning styles and some days I flip open a workbook and say, “do this.” Some days I can handle frustration and irritation caused by long division and spelling and some days I reward/remove privileges, all while holding a four month old and saying in a sing-songy voice, “somebody’s got a pooooopy.”
So, where does the courage come in?
My minister said something once that has stuck with me for a long time. “Doing something daily is radical.” It’s true. Doing something every day is radical- whether that’s working out, reading the Bible, taking a walk, drinking eight glasses of water, you get the picture.
The same goes with homeschooling every day, in and out, even during the worst homeschooling months in New England – February and March – when we are snowbound. The discipline it takes to recommit yourself to something on a daily basis and not just talk about it, but do it – I’ll be honest, it’s hard.
Of course when it comes to your children, there is a fair amount of self-induced pressure involved as well. Homeschoolers typically struggle with knowing that they are doing “enough,” that they are challenging their students as well as helping them to be well-rounded. That’s a tall cup of coffee if you ask me (or several).
So daily is courageous. It’s especially courageous when you are working through some difficulties in your personal life (illness, depression etc) or your child is having a hard time learning (due to disability or just personality or learning style).
Back to the rummage sale.
My sweet friend then said something else to me, something like, “I just love it that you are called
to do this.”
I think the word ‘called” that people sometimes use in regards to homeschooling comes from the scripture in Ephesians 4. The context is having to do with the church in the first century growing spiritually. Paul says, “11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Also see 1 Peter 2:21, Romans 8:30)
In other words, Paul was saying that in order for the church to function properly, each person would have a different role, all so that we can reach unity in the faith.
Going a little deep and spiritual
Somehow along the way, people started saying that one has to be called to homeschool (and other things too – called to a job, called to move). And that you are either “called” or “not called.”
According to this scripture, I see the word “teacher,” but upon further investigation, the Greek of this word “teacher” (διδάσκαλος) seems to refer more to a teacher of religion. Now, like many Christian homeschoolers, we do take up the word of God daily and learn right and wrong as revealed by the bible itself. But this scripture, in my opinion, does not necessarily apply to homeschoolers, persay.
I do of course think that there are plenty of scriptures that make it a wise choice if you desire to see your children grow up in faith (see Proverbs 22:6, Deut. 4:9). But I think it’s possible whether your kids are at home or not. Each has it’s own challenges.
That is not to say that I don’t feel accompanied by God on this journey (three years so far).
So, how did I end up here if I didn’t feel like I was called?
Well, to be honest, it’s just like any other big decision I have made in my life. I felt the desire within me to do it, I prayed about it and waited for God to reveal his plan, to show me whether it was just an emotionally based desire or a Holy spirit-based desire.
In fact, we had been thinking about homeschooling since my older son was about 2 years old, and it wasn’t until he was 8 that I finally made the decision to pull him out of public school and start schooling him myself. This was after many conversations with my husband and two long years of praying through my fears about it and also waiting for my husband to feel 100% about it.
So, do I call myself called? No…I don’t feel like that word fits me. I hope I am obeying God’s will for my life. That I am approaching educating my children with prayer and asking God to intervene at every turn.
When I got up this morning I saw that it was a beautiful, sunny Spring morning. The day ahead will include chores, learning and a trip to the post office and yes probably some video games. I will be with my boys (all three of them) all day long and will probably break up a few (or a lot) of disagreements. I will most likely correct them on the “nice” way to say something a few times, and I will change more than one poopy diaper in the process. So, YES, I do like to think of this as courageous living. Why? Because I will do it all over again tomorrow…and the next day….and the next.