Three Homeschooling Mindset Shifts to Embrace in My Fifth Year of Homeschool
This September will mark the beginning of our fifth year of homeschooling. I do not pretend to be an expert or even a seasoned homeschooling mom. Nonetheless, I have a great love for my children, and I know that as a parent, I have had to look at myself and make a change to improve the homeschool journey. Experience is a great teacher, isn’t it? I do have some of that!
I have heard it stated that homeschooling is parenting intensified. I am with my children in some way for the entire day, and I bet you are, too. As my children move to higher grades, I plan to outsource some of the teaching. Simply put, I am not gifted in teaching all the subjects equally, especially the higher-level ones.
For now, I plan to focus on game-changing mindset shifts to improve myself as a homeschooling mom to young children (my kids are eight, five, and three years old). The overall health of the homeschooling mom impacts the overall health of the home. So, feel free to learn from my blunders. I am still a work in progress and will be working on this for a while.
I am working, with God’s help, to embrace a healthier perspective. Here are a few of my newfound perspective shifts.
1. Misplaced identity can be a problem.
It’s pretty common among us humans to take ourselves too seriously. We get confused about Whose we are and place an undue amount of stress on how we perform. We think we get one shot at not messing up this homeschooling gig. We believe we should do all the right things, and our kids will turn out great. It’s all up to us, right?
Homeschool parents, take a step back for a minute and remember that you are not the great “I AM” of Exodus 3:14, but by the grace of God, you are who you are (1 Corinthians 15:10). You are the one God has chosen to homeschool your children. He will be your daily portion and strength.
I’m used to believing the lie that what I do defines who I am. I am trying daily to remind myself that I belong to Christ, so it’s in Christ that I find my value and my identity. Instead of believing the lie that I am worthless, inadequate, helpless, or hopeless… in Christ alone, God says that I am a branch of the true vine, Jesus, a channel of His life (John 15:1, 5). I am God’s workmanship, created for good works which He prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). The Bible speaks to our identity in Christ in many different places. So, steeping myself in the truth is certainly helpful in refuting the lies that I battle daily.
Even when I think I’m doing a great job and want to congratulate myself, I must remember that it is only by God’s grace that I do any good. If I dwell too much on my accomplishments, this is pride. So, I always fall short on good and bad days.
I am thankful that I can name this pride or self-pity when I see it. Taking a step back to name it is the first step. Once I have named it, I can repent. If I’ve already messed up, I can actively repent and know I that now want to embrace the truth that sets me free. Believing that Jesus already paid for my pride at the cross (a debt I could never afford to pay) assures me of my salvation and forgiveness. Slowly, if I am in Christ, I will be less and less like the old me and more and more like my new identity. I am His and do not have to keep believing the old lies. They do not rule over me any longer.
Another way to fight the lies is to pay attention, to tune in to the moment God has set before me. Awareness and mindfulness help me focus on what God might be doing in the opportunities that arise. Kids are kids. One moment they are annoying, the next minute they are reflections of God’s goodness and grace, and then they’re back to making a mess. These circumstances provide opportunities for being a channel of Jesus’ life to our kids. (Laughter is one way to take hold of the moment, too!)
It’s a strong mom who can look at the situations gone awry and know it is not a reflection of her value. She is still free to choose to homeschool, parent, and love her children. We have the honor and joy of doing this job that God has set before us.
I have spent most of my time on the first point because identity is foundational to everything else. I will briefly touch on the last three points.
2. Comparison breeds contempt.
Well, you have hit me in the jugular. This one is so hard for me. Yes, it goes back to identity.
I used to compare what I was doing to others’ ways of doing things because I really did want to know “the right way” to do something. Please, just give me the “mothering by the book” cure-all! Please, tell me which curriculum is the best!
But comparing myself with others to get the right way is sometimes paralyzing. Once I started learning through experience (the best teacher) that my kids will survive a mid-year switch in curriculum, and that character does matter just as much if not more than academic rigor, I started to loosen up a bit.
Secondly, if I’m being honest, my social media consumption impacts the amount of comparing I do. Instead of solely consuming social media, I have tried to create to bless more than I consume. Proverbs 9:10 says “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Why look to others’ feeds for that wisdom unless it comes from a true, wise place? Are we looking at what others are doing and feeling envy or anxiety? These feelings arise from the one who seeks to harm us, Satan.
I believe that the antidote to fear and envy is gratitude. If we can put down our phones and see the goodness of God in our lives, moment-by-moment, that helps us to smother a paralyzing fear and sense that “we aren’t doing enough because we aren’t doing what they are doing.” It realigns us with the moment we are physically a part of and not the virtual reality of other people’s carefully curated moments. We no longer envy because we see that we indeed have blessings for which to be grateful.
3. Spouses are not always going to help, and that’s okay.
I see you, single mom (and dad). I know that you cannot consult a spouse for homeschool planning, and I admire you because parenting is hard enough with two parents in the home. I pray you have a community to lean into and a couple of good resources to reference when times get hard.
I am speaking mainly to those of us who are in a two-parent home and who might have expectations about the involvement of the other spouse in the homeschooling realm.
Chances are, one of you is the primary homeschooling parent, while the other might have another job that takes him or her away from the homeschool. Some of you have spouses who are responsible for some subjects. I respect that. You have tapped into your spouse’s strengths. Maybe a more flexible work schedule allows this type of sharing.
To some of you who have husbands in highly intense jobs, I learned not to place too many responsibilities concerning the planning of the homeschool year (re: curriculum, schedule, etc.) on my husband. My reason may differ from yours. My husband is gifted in many ways regarding our homeschool, but I realize that planning is not his realm. Teaching is also a no-go for him because he lacks time and energy during the grueling work week.
I am not saying we should not consult with our spouses regarding the logistics of the calendar. I think my husband needs to know what days we take off from school so that he can plan accordingly at work. Schedules need to be communicated well before the beginning of the school year, as I plan out our breaks and terms, and ensure we have embedded some buffer days into our schedule (because kids and parents get sick sometimes and things do come up). Thanking him for serving in whatever capacity he is helping (whether it be calling out times tables, taking children to practice, or reading the bedtime stories) is a great way to include him in the homeschool—which is an extension of our lives.
Maybe you can relate to any number of these mindsets. When you get a chance to make your new goals for the school year or term, remember Whose you are. Remember, comparison is truly a breeding ground for some counterproductive stuff, and don’t put too many expectations on your spouse to affirm or contribute to what you’re doing. In obedience to the One who has named you a citizen of heaven, in Christ, you will be equipped to face each day anew and see how your homeschool will come alive with His grace.
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