HOMESCHOOL ENCOURAGEMENT + RESOURCES
SO MUCH GRACE!
Within days, life as many of us know it, has changed drastically. I believe now more than ever, in my lifetime, that many are realizing their lack of control over their schedules and calendars. Myself included.
“Come now, you who say “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
We simply do not know what tomorrow will bring. But, we do know The One who brings tomorrow. God is not caught off guard or surprised at the current events in our world today and He is absolutely in control and completely trustworthy. So, today, our hope is to bring some encouragement and help to all of you mamas who have abruptly been thrown into homeschooling; who did not know that this is what your tomorrow would look like. I know you may be weary. I know you are probably fighting with feelings of inadequacy. I know you are tired and worried, and feeling the weight of the uncertainty. Listen, El Roi, the God who sees, sees YOU. Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord will Provide, is still at work. Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord is There, is still with you. El Shaddai, God Almighty, is still on His throne and has great purpose in all of this. And Jehovah, Yaweh, I Am, is absolutely unchanging. So, while the world around us is changing, and the world inside our homes are changing, He is still the same. I pray that you rest in Him. I pray that you hear me when I say that none of us have it all together or have all of the answers. I pray that our words would encourage your heart and that you would take your burdens and requests and lay them at the Father's feet.
Without further ado and finally getting past the longest introduction ever....let me introduce myself and two other women that have come together to share with you today. Lindsey is a mom to six children; ages 13, 8, 6, 4, 2, and 10 months. Lindsey and her husband followed the call upon their lives to adopt four years ago. Through this journey, they felt led to also begin their homeschooling journey. Lindsey went to public school as a child and two of her children did as well. Leslie is a public school teacher who had a bit of experience homeschooling when she was in high school. She now spends her days with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandbaby. And lastly, my name is Jenny. I am a mom to four children; ages 15, 13, 11, and 9. I have been homeschooling our children since day one but I myself, spent my entire childhood in public school. So, here we are! And guess what, we are all in this together! YOU CAN DO THIS. And we want to help.
The biggest piece of advice that we all seem to agree upon is this; receive grace and give grace. There is so much grace available to you mamas. You've been thrown into a schedule that is not your own and that you're most likely unfamiliar with. But listen and please remember, your children have to. Give them grace. And receive it for yourself. Your days will look very different than you likely expect them too. You and your children will probably soon discover that teaching a few children at home takes much less time than the whole school day that they are used to. That's okay!
As Lindsey shares, “It has been helpful for me to know that even when they are not sitting quietly at the table during a structured lesson, they are still learning.” Not only is it okay, extra time that you will find in their schedule is a gift.
Leslie emphasizes this well, “I am a public school teacher but I tell me students all of the time that it is important for me to teach them skills but I would consider myself a failure if I didn't teach them to be caring, kind people that think of others. Take moments in the daily “schedule” to have time having fun together!”
For my home personally, “education” is only a part of the equation. While we, of course, place importance on reading, writing, and all the things; we are also intentionally seizing this gift of time to read truth, address hearts, teach life skills, and enjoy learning together. I want my children to be life long learners and there is no better way to teach them that than to show them how. As Lindsey explains, “Being able to be apart of what they are learning is what she loves the most about homeschooling. If I know my kids are learning about Canada or Tropical Rain Forests or anything really, I can take whatever we see and hear and point them in that direction, utilizing it as a teaching opportunity. So, we are all learning together!”
Every home will look different because every family that makes up that home, is different. That is a beautiful thing. But make no mistake, the devil will try and twist this beauty, whispering lies and tempting you to the whole comparison game. Don't buy it. For instance, in Lindsey's home, they wake up early, get dressed and ready for the day, do chores, eat breakfast and begin their school work. This is what works best for them. This is how their home functions the best. For my home, while I like for us to follow a similar schedule, we just don't do that well consistently. There are some days that we all literally do our chores and school work in our pajamas. Not every day by any means, but several days a week, you'll find us comfy and snuggled on the couch, either reading the Bible, Box Car Children books, Anatomy, American History, working on multiplication, or maybe taking a break and watching The British Baking show (to which a messy kitchen and sweet treats will most certainly follow later that day). For the first couple of years of our homeschooling journey, I tried to mimic others schedules because I didn't know what the heck I was doing and I was desperate to do it well.
Finally, by the grace of God, I stopped the comparison game and looked at my children and myself and saw the beauty in it all. They are each different and unique and I have the opportunity and privilege to teach them and encourage them accordingly. I am who God gave them. He has equipped me. And as I keep calling on Him and seeking Him, He will continue to equip me.
Mamas, whether this is a temporary situation or a long term, He has equipped you. You are the teacher that God has given them right in this very moment and season. Seek Him. Call upon Him, and He will continue to equip you. Leslie offers up some good advice as some of you may want to try to follow a similar schedule as the typical school day, to help your children adjust. She says “My students did reading groups/literacy classes in the morning, and then math, science and social studies in the afternoon. Parents could try and divide the work up the same way.”
Being flexible and acknowledging that your children are all different; they each learn differently from one another even, much less from other families and homes. It will look different, but you can and will find your new normal. Trust that God knows what that is for you and your children. In all of our years of homeschooling, every season has looked much different than the one before. And while I have moments of weakness and tantrums of my own, God's grace is always sufficient and I find myself learning so much more from being their mom and teacher than I could ever teach them.
Right now, as hard as it may seem, these days are a gift. Don't beat yourself up if you don't feel this way every day, I don't either! This work of being mom is hard enough in and of itself. Now, add teacher to the many hats that you wear...I know, I get it. It is HARD. Just because some of us have chosen to do this does not for one second mean that it is easy for us or that we somehow have it all figured out. Yes, you may see our instagram feeds with sweet photos of our family around the table, the kids playing, or a science experiment in progress...but why in the world would we think to snap a pic of the child throwing a fit on the floor or a selfie of us losing it? It happens. We are all in desperate need of our Savior Every. Single. Moment. of. Every. Single. Day. You are not in this alone. And yes, you can do it! Not only can do you it, but I believe you can do it well and enjoy it!
Put down whatever ideas of homeschooling you had in your head before. Leave them be. And simply ask yourself what you want your children to learn? What do you want their memories of this time at home to be like? What does the Lord have for your family to learn in this season? What are the things that you've often thought before, that you wished you had more time to do with them? What lessons and truths do you long for your children to know? Now is the time.
Here are a few take-a-ways that the three of us all agree are important:
Sit with your children when you can and read to them.
Get outside. Don't just send your kids outside, but go outside with them. Sunshine is one of God's many glorious gifts to our physical bodies and our hearts! Take the time to slow down and listen to the birds and look at all of His creation that is literally showing out right now.
Let them be kids! They will likely finish their work faster than you expect. Resist the urge to give them busy work to fill their day. Let them explore; whether that be outside or exploring a topic they're interested in with a parent approved online resource.
CREATE. I highly encourage you to keep some art supplies within their reach (colored pencils, watercolors, playdoh, etc.) and let them create. We were made to create. IMAGO DEI- made in the image of God. The ultimate Creator. Encourage their creativity and try not to stress about the mess.
Sieze the opportunity to learn alongside your children. We live in a world where anything you want to learn about is literally at your fingertips. We are going to include an amazing list of resources for you below!
See the beauty in getting time to address those precious hearts. It's hard being a kid. And this world is a crazy, scary place sometimes but you are being given the time to check on their hearts, to comfort them, to answer questions, and to help them see the beauty amidst the chaos.
Chores. If you haven't had the opportunity or time to teach team work in the family/home, then what better time? This is Life Skills in action! Every person in our home has daily chores and it keeps our home running while also teaching them skills, responsibility, time management, and serving others.
GRACE!!! So much of it! For you, for them! You will not do this perfectly. Heck, you won't even do it close to perfect. You will have moments where you question what exactly you yourself learned in school because you won't know how to answer their questions or how to simply work a math problem! It is OKAY! And it's actually so good for them to hear you say, “You know what, I don't know. But lets find out together.”
Find your person. Ya know, that friend that you can all out lose your mind with and they still not only love you, but like you. When you feel yourself unraveling, call them. We all need each other, even in the privileged work of raising children.
Find your space. Find a time in your day where you can steal a few minutes alone. Whatever that looks like for your home and your schedule and it may look different from day to day. But I have found it to be absolutely necessary. Some days, it looks like sitting on the front porch for a few minutes of the morning alone with my coffee and my Bible and some days, it looks like going outside for a quick walk around the block alone; no ear buds, just the birds and some time alone in my thoughts and to pray.
COFFEE. Buy it. Brew it. Drink it. Thank God for it.
And lastly, it is the hardest job we've ever had. BUT, it is also the most rewarding job that we will ever have. We are here. We are praying for your days mamas, for your children, for your families; we are praying that these days will be sweet memories in the making and that your families will grow stronger together.
-Jenny Keylor, Lindsey Snyder, & Leslie Staudt