The more I live this life of homeschooling, the more I believe that home education ought to be a joy. By joy, I mean, delight – that is, a high degree of “gratification or pleasure” (Webster-Dictionary).
Is your home education with your children gratifying? Do you all experience pleasure in your days?
Now, in my belief that home education ought to be a joy, I don’t mean that there is an absence of hard work. I think, for the most part in life, joy is a product of work. We work for thankfulness, we work to see goodness, and we work to appreciate what we have. It is rare for joy to be continually present in our life with no conscious effort on our part. So, those hard days (or weeks, or months, or years) with our children does not negate the opportunity for our homeschooling life to be joyful.
Joy, also, is also a fruit of the Spirit. As we abide in Jesus – not just as a mother, but as a family – and we put on joy (and love, and patience etc.), the experience and feelings of delight flow from the Spirit’s cultivation in us. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in his book Spiritual Depression, essentially says that being a miserable Christian is an oxymoron. It must surely be contrary for a Christian family, who deeply believe in Christ and the Gospel, not to be a generally joyful family.
Despite these truths, so many home educating Christian mothers – and their children – are lackluster in joy. Coming together to learn is fraught, tears abound, people drag their feet, and sending children off to school is a genuine consideration. Why does this happen? Certainly, in only three years, I have definitely been there. Our first year was difficult, which is how we ended up in more of an unschooling way of learning. But seasons change, and we are a more delight-directed family now, which to us, is a nice mix of child- and parent-led learning. Yet, I still can succumb to the lack-of-joy state. Here is why I think it is easy for us mother’s to get to that place.
You’ve Lost Your Vision
Why are you home educating? What led you to this lifestyle?
The Lord led us to home education through different ways and for different reasons, but I remember a specific answer to prayer in the Word that was as clear as day what God wanted for us. So, God is the reason why we are homeschooling. And, over time, He has laid in my heart a passion for giving the children a slow, unhurried childhood full of good literature, nature, play, rabbit trails, and family time.
But I have already lost my way at times.
Sometimes, through hard seasons or difficulties with our children, we can lose sight of our end hope for our children. The daily living can block that passion God first placed in our hearts. Comparing our home or our children or our curriculum to another family (whether homeschooling or not) can choke out convictions and cast doubt on our decision to home educate. We need to be careful to keep that flame of vision burning as well as eternity in view when we feel cold.
Prayer, the Word, journaling, and reading good home education books can help you burn brightly again. I always recommend Sally Clarkson for encouragement.
A Method Trumps Your Children
I think this is such a common struggle, at least, that has been my experience. There is a wealth of information and opinions out in the world around homeschooling and learning in general, it can be overwhelming. A particular method (or more!) may really appeal to us and we try to implement (or un-implement) it with our children.
For some reason or other, it all falls to custard. But we keep trying because it’s beautiful, or enriching, or promises success, or makes us as the educator feel like we are doing a good job. Our children, however, are drowning or rebelling or withdrawing, and our relationship with them suffers.
Friends, method of homeschooling actually doesn’t matter. At least, how you follow a method doesn’t matter, especially if you are trying to follow it to the letter of the law. And that is the problem – the method becomes a law. Even unschooling, which promotes freedom, can become a yoke if we lose our sights on our children and what they actually need.
We need to remember that there is no one “right” way to homeschool our children. We need to find what suits us as mothers and what suits our children. Joy will certainly follow if the method is where it needs to be, a method, not a law.
You See Your Children As a Burden
I think all mothers go through periods of time where everything just becomes too much and we begin to view our children as hard, or difficult, or a burden. Parts of their character that used to make us smile now makes us irritated. The noise grates on us. The mess overwhelms us. We feel an increasing feeling of suffocation.
These are all warning signs that something is out of whack. Mother-Friend, you need to run to Jesus and spend some time in prayer, the Word, and a good book that encourages you, refreshes you, convicts you, and helps you get your thinking in the right place. Children, and all that comes with them, are a blessing. If we’ve lost our joy toward our children, it is a sign of sickness within our own hearts.
All these may be blockages to joy in your homeschooling life. Again, a joyful homeschool is not an absence of hard or difficult days or seasons of pain. Joy is something deeper than that.
Joy is a surety, a hope in eternal truths, that bubbles delight, praise, and pleasure in our hearts in this calling, this role, this privilege. And home educating our children is a privilege. It is something we can do with this one life we have with the certainty that we are doing something meaningful and worthy of our time, our energy, our younger years, our bodies, and our hearts.
I’m praying if you have lost your joy, that something in this entry has sparked hope again, and causes you to run to Jesus and seek how He can restore it in you today.