7 Ways to Homeschool without Regrets by Rhonda Stoppe
Over the many years I’ve spoken at homeschool conventions I’ve spent a lot of time visiting with homeschooling parents. It’s fun to chat with the well-seasoned homeschool mom who has learned a thing or two in the trenches. But my favorite parents to talk with are those who are new to the whole school-at-home thing. Some are starry-eyed over the wonderful experience they expect to enjoy daily with their children. Others may be those disillusioned with the public school system, or their child’s inability to sit still in a classroom setting––so they have reluctantly chosen homeschooling as their only viable option. If you’re reading this article I’m assuming you fall into one of the above categories. Although, I guess you could be one who is contemplating the idea of homeschooling, or just super curious about what type of person would want to homeschool their kids.
To be honest, for many years I fell into the last category of one who was curious about the who and why of homeschooling. However, when my youngest son was diagnosed with epilepsy, he was labeled “special-ed” by the school administrator. As the words flippantly rolled off her tongue they pierced my heart to the very core. My six-year-old son who had been bright and articulate was now struggling with the effects of his seizure medication, which influenced his cognitive abilities. I knew it was time to rethink my son’s education options when one day after struggling to read a paragraph aloud in class he said, I feel like I’m dumb. My intelligent little boy needed a better education and I realized it was up to me to give it to him.
I had known families who had homeschooled with great success. I had also heard of homeschool kids who grew up to resent their parents and even rebel against their biblical values. I felt overwhelmed by the curriculum choices, and fearful that I would regret it if I pushed my kids toward rebellion by being either too controlling or too lenient. Maybe you can relate? I knew I needed help. So, I looked to older mentors who were transparent and willing to share with me what they’d learned about homeschooling without regrets. Let’s look at 7 things I learned along the way:
1. You have been called. Called to homeschooling? Well, not exactly––although I do know homeschooling parents who believe God has called them homeschool. But whether you homeschool or not, you as a parent have been called by God to shape the worldview of your children with a biblical foundation and perspective.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 clearly outlines God’s call for parents to teach their children His commands and ways:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
2. Regularly evaluate your motivation. Most parents start homeschooling for the good of their children. With this commitment comes sacrifice. For some parents it means setting aside their own career goals to spend their days teaching––rather than climbing a corporate ladder. Over time, it’s easy for a parent to look for their own affirmation in how well their child performs academically. You want to do your very best to educate your kids well, and yet there is a real temptation to find your own glory and satisfaction in your children’s success.
Isaiah 43:7 teaches that God created us for His glory. To glorify God means to represent His character to a watching world, in order to create in them an appetite for knowing our Lord. When you are careful to live for God’s glory––and not your own, you will discover your true worth, and break free from the seduction of wrong motives. And when your children observe that you have a genuine goal to live in a manner that brings glory to God––rather than to yourself, they too will learn the secret of living free from the influence of peer pressure, self-promotion, and pride.
3. Don’t become prideful. Let’s be honest, we have all met the homeschool kids who seem to look down on others who do not educate at home,. Or, judgmental of those who do not homeschool using the same methods as their own family. I was a very laid-back let’s stay in our jammies until our school work’s done kind of mom. I remember at times feeling chastised by children who were being raised in a more disciplined environment.
Remember God will give you His wisdom to guide your own children. And He will grant discernment to other parents for what’s best for their children too. Rather than judging others for not measuring up to your expectations, choose to believe the best about them and pray for God to give them the strength and insights to train up their own kids in the way they should go. Proverbs 16:18 warns “Pride goes before a destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Therefore, remember that pride is a tool of the Enemy that will undo all of your efforts. Humility is the mark of one who God uses to do great things. And the best way to raise children who are humble is through your own example.
4. Control Freaks Raise Freaks. We all want to protect our kids from the big-bad-wolf. But if you homeschool you would be wise to involve your children in social settings where they can learn how to think through circumstances in order to discern right from wrong. Allow them to feel the sting of having a friend hurt their feelings, so they can learn how to forgive and restore relationships. If the coach doesn’t seem to give them equal playing time, maybe it’s time for you to sit on the side-lines and pray for the Lord to use this disappointment to develop your child’s character. Consider how the everyone gets a trophy mentality might grow a sense of entitlement in your child’s heart and mind.
We are not trying to raise perfect kids, but rather kids who know how to recover from their mistakes. If we do not allow them room to fail while living at home, they’ll not know how to repent and return when they fall as adults.* For example when our son-in-law worked as Resident Director in a boys’ dormitory at a Christian College, he met young men who began their freshman year ill equipped to self-discipline because they’d so relied on their parents to control all of their decisions. For example, some who weren’t allowed to play any video games at home found themselves skipping classes to play their roommates’ games. Not that I am an advocate of video games, but train your child how to discern and guard himself from games that will stir in him an attitude that dishonors to Christ, and how to self-regulate play time when gaming is available. What’s a parent to do––right? No, really––parenting can be so confusing. And homeschooling only adds to the pressure. For more insights read: Is Over Parenting Turning Your Kids Away From Faith?
5. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschool families. Comparison is a practice that will either cause you to become judgmental toward others who don’t measure up to your standard, or it can cripple you with discouragement and feelings of inadequacy. If you’re involved with homeschooling groups encourage one another to learn from your differences, uplift those who are struggling and inspire creativity in those who are artistically challenged (my hand’s up here! LOL).
Developing an uplifting homeschooling community is a great way to strengthen others and get curriculum recommendations. But remember, your homeschooling group should not make others feel inadequate or less valued if they choose not to educate at home. Your church’s unity is threatened if the “homeschool moms” stay to themselves, especially if “public school” moms tend to feel judged for not schooling at home. A support group is great, but be very careful that the conversations are honoring to the Lord and without gossip or demeaning comments about others. If there’s gossip in your homeschool group, it’s sin plane and simple, and God won’t bless your efforts. Today is the day to stop the gossip––let it begin with you.
6. Equip your children with God’s Word. To equip your child for a future that glorifies God teach them to think biblically. That means to train them to filter all of life’s experiences through God’s Word.
Luke 6:40 says, “The student will become like his teacher.” Notice Jesus did not say the student will be like what his teacher says, but he rather he will emulate what his teacher does. So, telling your kids how important it is for them to read and study Scripture won’t influence them nearly as powerfully as if they see you living “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). As you study the Bible with your kids ask God to give you a zeal and passion for His Word that is contagious to your children. The more you draw near to God through His Word the more He can use your light as an example that draws your kids to do the same.*
7. Find a mentor––be a mentor. When I was new to the homeschooling scene I found a great source of encouragement, wisdom and counsel from godly mentors who had walked the path ahead of me in their homeschooling journey. And homeschooling conventions provide speakers who offer great insights as well. If you have courageously chosen to school your children at home you would be wise to look for mentors who have traveled this unique path before you. People who have walked in your shoes teach most passionately about what they did right, but also you’ll gain valuable wisdom from what they share about their regrets. A wise woman will learn from other’s regrets so that she does not have to go through her own. Inviting mentors into your life is God’s way of training moms (seeTitus 2).
When you wisely seek out good counselors, you will:
-Receive clear advice, not swayed by emotional attachment
-Enjoy fellowship with someone who has walked in your shoes
-Learn from their successes and regrets
-Find encouragement to keep doing what the Lord has called you to do
As a parent, you are an architect of the next generation. With all that is wrong in the world, your job is vital to influence for Christ the moral fiber of the next generation, beginning with your children. Find mentors, be a mentor, and prepare yourself to homeschool without regrets.
*quote taken from: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men
Rhonda Stoppe is a popular Christian speaker and author of 6 books. She’s a favorite radio and podcast guest, appearing frequently on Focus on the Family. With over 30 years experience of helping women build a No Regrets Life. Rhonda helps women to:
-Discover significance and purpose for their lives
-Impact the moral fiber of the next generation by raising children with integrity
-Find victory over people-pleasing
-Parent without regrets
-Enjoy a marriage others dream about
-Build an incredible legacy
-Become more influential than they ever dreamed possible