By Kendra Fletcher, Crosswalk.com
I never wanted to homeschool. Back when our oldest was four years old, we began to hear God’s unmistakable encouragement in that direction, and I couldn’t shake the fact that he was leading us to homeschool our son.
“I’m only doing this for kindergarten,” I declared. Long story short, he ended up graduating from our homeschool 13 years later. You could say we were kind of all in. In fact, over the past 21 years, I’ve never not been homeschooling someone in our home, although we’ve also got a full time public school student, and that’s a perfect fit for him.
Suffice it to say, we’ve done some serious battle with fear over the years. In the beginning, I was absolutely sure this was what God wanted, and my fears were related more to the nitty-gritty details: “How will I teach this kiddo to read while I’m nursing the baby?”, and even, “What in the world am I going to make for dinner? We were so caught up in our science experiment, I lost track of time!”
But by the time I had my first high schoolers, the fears were palpable. What if we had made the worst choice imaginable? What if they really are unsocialized, and will be the dreaded cultural misfits that feed the stereotype of a geeky homeschooled kid? What if they don’t really understand calculus?
If fear is keeping you from making a plunge into bringing a child home from a traditional school setting even when you know God is asking this of you, or if you’re a homeschooler bearing the burden of anxiety, there are some key truths of which I want to remind you as you consider or embark upon homeschooling:
1. God’s prompting for this season is exactly what you should be doing, whether that’s in a homeschool, public school, or private school.
On the hardest days, it’s tempting to gaze out the window at a passing school bus, or reminisce about the water cooler at your old job, wondering if you’re missing out because you chose to homeschool instead. But if God has called you to something, that something is exactly what you should be doing.
If the fear is that your child might be better off in public school or private school, take heart that you are doing what God has asked of you, and there’s no better place for your child to be. When and if the time is right to make a change, God will make it known to you and he will make a way.
2. No matter how overwhelming it might seem, God is in the details.
Remember Queen Esther? Before she became the cherished queen of King Ahasuerus, she took a leap of faith fueled by her certainty that God was calling her to do this terribly difficult thing. What see repeatedly from Esther is a humble obedience born out of her certainty that she was going down a path God had laid out for her (see Esther 4:14). Our obedience to God is the sweet spot, and he doesn’t leave us there unequipped. He is in every single detail.
If you know that this is what God is asking of you, then it’s time to ask him to also equip you for the task ahead. He is loving and kind and never leaves us without the tools we need for the job he’s assigned, so when the fear creeps in, remind yourself that he all around your homeschool. He’s got you covered!
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11, ESV)
3. Homeschooling will dictate your days.
Wait. Wouldn’t that be a reason to fear homeschooling? If you aren’t prepared for homeschooling to be the center of your daily activities, then you’ll likely become frustrated with the whole thing from the get-go, and the frustration of that would definitely be a reason to fear jumping into homeschooling.
But if you go into this season of your life with an “all in” attitude, you’ll find that the rhythms of homeschooling are actually freeing. The morning rush to get everyone out the door is suddenly non-existent. Waffles with fresh peaches and whipped cream enjoyed on the back porch on a crisp autumn morning becomes a glorious reality. So does lingering over books read aloud and math done at the student’s pace until there’s mastery of the concept, not an urgency to move on without understanding just because the classroom needs to stay on schedule.
It’s not all rosy and pastoral, either. There will be days you’re texting your best friend, ranting about the kid who can never find a pencil, her history book, or her shoes. There will be days that end in utter exhaustion, laundry undone, and corn dogs for dinner.
But if we’re called to something big, there will always be the rough patches that serve as a beautiful reminder that we can’t accomplish anything meaningful without the grace and shepherding of God. He is always there, even in the worst of homeschooling moments.
4. Did you really just say, “What about socialization?”
Homeschoolers like to crack jokes about the done-to-death socialization question and respond by pointing a few things out: “Do you mean socializing? Because socialization means being taught the rules of a society, and I’m cool with my kids not learning the rules of society from other kids. But if you mean socializing, well, we get plenty of that in sports/dance/church/co-op.”
The truth is homeschoolers can often seem awkward if they aren’t in on all the inside jokes or have learned to live life at a different pace. And I’ll be honest: we didn’t want our kids to be like that.
There is something to be said for having kids who do know the ins and outs of socialization, if only for the solid benefit of being able to have a voice in the marketplace. We’ve made a point of having our kids involved in youth group, sports, part time jobs, theater performances, community service opportunities, as well as bringing a half dozen exchange students into our home over the years, hosting a whole slew of events in our home, and offering our sofa bed to traveling friends and acquaintances.
Let your kids find their people. And if they’re geeky, just remember that public schools have socially awkward kids, too. Homeschooling didn’t make them so. In fact, every workplace, church, and organization is a place where the socially awkward also thrive right alongside their more socially adept peers.
5. Your purpose, worth, value, and significance are in Jesus.
“But what will my in-laws think?” is a question that plagues many a homeschooling parent, and it troubles me that anyone ever feels they need to entertain fears of others’ opinions of our very personal choices.
If your fears about homeschooling are tied to what others might think about you and your decision, here’s where the gospel gets to swoop in and stand as a reminder: your purpose, worth, value, and significance are in Jesus.
Remind yourself when fear wheedles its way into your thoughts the day before you start your first day ever as a homeschooling family. Remind yourself mid-September when you’re wondering what in the world you got yourself into. Remind yourself in January when you hit the mid-year slump, in May when you’re racing to the finish line, and all through the summer months, when you’re just enjoying what God has given. Really, remind yourself all the time: your purpose, worth, value, and significance are in Jesus.
Remember, too, that no matter your fears and your homeschooling triumphs, homeschooling isn’t our hope anyway. It’s a tool, and in that way, it’s simply a means to an end. Keep your hope in Jesus and your eyes on him. He’ll put all your fears to rest!
Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and podcaster. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism: Learning to Love God, Others, and Yourself Again, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Where she writes: www.kendrafletcher.com
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/monkeybusinessimages