When life is normal and we’re in our happy homeschool rhythm, I feel great about my role as a teacher because our tangible progress through the subjects is recorded in wirebound notebooks and three-hole-punch binders.
It’s nice, neat learning that can be measured and inspected. This is predictable, quantifiable learning that leaves no doubt that my students are, in fact, growing and thriving academically.
But right now, our family is knee-deep is the heavily chaotic season of moving. Purging, packing and pressure (not to mention all the paperwork!!!!) have taken over my brain (and my home!). I’m forced to deal with the real and immediate needs of the present (home inspections, repairs to be made, boxes to pack). This means that our homeschool days are much less structured and a-typical.
It also means that old question–“am I doing enough homeschool?”—plagues my thoughts and assaults my self-confidence.
No one talks about it, and yet, I’d argue that the fear “am I doing enough homeschool?” (or “am I being enough as a homeschool mom?”) is something every homeschool mom deals with. In the homeschooling world, it’s truly the white elephant in the room.
The “Am I Doing Enough Homeschool?” Trap
Just like that wicked snake in the garden slyly whispered doubt into Eve’s heart (Did God really say that?), this same evil presence likes to introduce doubt to our confidence, especially during the most vulnerable times and in the most vulnerable places (Do you really think you are doing a good job as their teacher?).
True to his accusatory nature, he kicks us when we are down. He is relentless, playing on our greatest fears—that someone else could do a better job at this teaching thing. Or that someone could definitely do a better job on the mothering front.
He likes to parade all our faults and fears in front of us, reminding us of the mistakes we make and how we never really will measure up.
This time, he’s trying to convince me that the real reason I need to alter our family’s homeschool routine for this season is because I am lazy and just can’t get it together.
You just need to try harder, do more, and push, push, push, he says. What is the matter with you, anyway?
And amidst the accusations, the lies and the screaming in my head, that wonderfully sweet voice of the Holy Spirit quietly asks a simple question (that quickly silences the enemy’s taunting):
Alicia, what does a “real” education look like?
Suddenly, I am pulled back into reality. The enemy’s grip releases and my mind is flooded with our family’s core homeschooling goals:
–to encourage and model a living relationship with Christ;
–to encourage and introduce a love of learning;
–to help our children discover their God-given passions and life-long purpose;
–to teach practical, real-world skills; and
–to develop rich, deep relationships between family members.
These are the God-given truths that serve as our school’s anchor. After the final lesson has been taught, this is what my husband and I want to have gifted to our children.
Choosing Enough To Be Enough
If I were to attempt to orchestrate both our full homeschool routine AND all of these extra house responsibilities, what would I really be offering my kids right now?
Perhaps all of my “learning boxes” would get checked, but would that be at the detriment to the precious relationship and trust the kids and I are building?
Wouldn’t I be a hurried and stressed out teacher, distracted by her other (very important, albeit temporary) responsibilities who, by golly, is going to do everything to force and push the work to completion?
Isn’t my ultimate goal to get them to love learning, not to hurry them through it so that I can deal with the real and pressing needs of the present?
The truth is that I want to give my kids my best. Not just the best academic experiences, but the best learning experiences. Why not give them a lighter academic load for a short period of time and invite them into the unconventional learning opportunities put before our family in this season?
Rediscovering the Value of Unexpected Learning
As I was typing this, God reminded me of one of those unique learning experiences. Last Friday we spent almost three hours with a home inspector as he walked through every nook and cranny of our new house. The kids followed the home inspector from room to room as he explained all of the home’s intricacies. The boys got quite an education about how a house works as they listened to our conversation and even themselves asked questions.
That learning experience wasn’t something that I could duplicate in a typical “learning” session in our homeschool room. Here they were—on a field trip of sorts!—touching, seeing and experiencing their future home in ways not normally seen. These were future dads and husbands learning about plumbing structure, electrical circuitry, and even home maintenance basics such as how to light a furnace or maintain landscape irrigation.
And since we’ve started this home selling/buying process three months ago, my, what my kids have learned overall about real estate and the buying and selling of houses! They have been with us on every potential home we walked through, knew what items we specifically wanted or did not want in a home, and now use verbiage such as “contingency” and “escrow” in everyday conversation. Pretty crazy to hear my eight-year-old ask questions like, “What happens if the home doesn’t appraise for a high enough value? Do we fall out of escrow and will we have to put our house back on the market?”
Heaven knows that subjects like the Civil War and learning about reptiles versus mammals are always going to be there. But, in this case, learning about buying and selling a home? Not really.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we’ve abandoned academics completely. Even in this a-typical season, our family still continues to faithfully work through a core group of subject material.
However, I’m recognizing that the real lessons of this season are those hard-to-pin-down concepts such as:
—How do we adjust our homeschool rhythm (and our attitudes) to deal with an above-normal level of responsibilities? How do we delegate, plan and prepare?
—How do we approach stressful (and perhaps surprising) life circumstances? Do we lean on God that much more, or allow worry and fear to plague our days?
—Do we really live out the convictions and character qualities that we’re striving to teach them? Are we able to maintain peace, trust and a calm attitude when the world around us is spinning?
If it’s true that kids learn so much more by our actions than our words, then boy, these transitional seasons sure can teach our kids a mountain-sized bundle about life.
And wow, they sure serve as a mirror into the state of our hearts as moms and teachers.
So, the bottom line is that when I am sane enough to clear away the false truths, I realize that what we’re learning right now is a lot. It may be unconventional. It may be difficult to chart and quantify. But it is essential and highly important.
Most of all, because the Bible assures me that all of our experiences are God-directed and all for our good, I am assured that yes, it is definitely enough.