What didn’t get done in your homeschool this year? What things do you routinely put off? What things do your children put off? The solution to accomplishing important tasks or projects in your homeschool is to make them a habit. I’m excited to tell you how.
Our tendency is to want to develop habits by sheer force of will, whether that’s our own or our children’s habits. This method is exhausting and is destined to fail with time.
How Mini Habits Can Change Your Homeschool
I recently read the book Mini Habits by Stephen Guise and rediscovered a powerful tool for accomplishing important things. I chose three mini habits to develop.
The wonderful thing about mini habits is they are so small, and require so little effort, that you can work on developing more than one.
In the past when I have accomplished big things, I have done so by having a singular focus. But as homeschoolers we have many changes we want to make, even if that means having more than one child who needs to make a change. My three mini habits are to write 50 words of Grammar Galaxy curriculum, to declutter one item, and to read one page of a paper book.
The exciting thing about these three mini habits for me is that I have done them every day for more than three weeks. Many times I have gotten to the end of the day and realized I had to do them before I went to bed. These habits are so small that I can finish them in just a few minutes, even at bedtime.
To be successful, your mini habits should take a minute or less.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? These mini habits are so small that they don’t seem to matter. Fifty words, one item, and one page aren’t much. Yet over the course of a year those 50 words add up to more than 18,000. A total of 365 items would have been decluttered and 365 pages would be read. I realize those numbers aren’t likely to motivate you. That isn’t the real gold behind mini habits. The value in establishing mini habits in yourself and your kids is that often we and up doing more than the minimum we have established as our mini habit. I have written curriculum for two hours, have decluttered entire closets, and have read 20 pages in a sitting. So why not make the daily habits bigger, you may ask? To require myself and require yourself to do more on a daily basis will mean we develop resistance. Psychologically, we don’t want to spend two hours writing, cleaning, or even reading. So the big expectation, even if it’s unstated, can interfere with motivation.
Mini Habits to Adopt to Change Your Homeschool
Now that you understand a bit about why we need to make habits that are so small that we feel no resistance, let’s talk about the kinds of habits we can develop to change our homeschools.
Exercise. If you don’t exercise, I believe that a mini exercise habit can change your homeschool. You and your children can develop an exercise habit that will increase your energy, improve attention, and your health. The author of Mini Habits started by doing one push-up a day. Alternatively, you and the kids could use the Move app which provides one small exercise for you to complete. It can be set for the timeframe you prefer (like once an hour), but you would only be requiring yourself to do one exercise per day. If you want to exercise longer, you can. I have used this approach to exercise for many years. On the days when I haven’t wanted to exercise, I only require myself to start.
Is there a subject that your child resists? It’s perfect for mini habits. You may understandably balk at asking your child to do one math problem per day. Math requires more time. But if your child is math phobic, requiring just one problem a day would be a good place to start. You could also establish a mini habit of your child practicing math facts via flashcards or a game for one minute a day. Anything that your child resists and has not developed a habit for is fair game for mini habits. Your child could practice foreign language using the DuoLingo app or could practice a musical instrument for one minute. Some other ideas for your child include reading for pleasure, handwriting, writing 50 words, typing, studying for tests like the ACT with the Magoosh app, and picking up.
It’s important to explain to your child that the only requirement in those instances is the one-minute practice. However, if they are enjoying themselves, they should feel free to spend as much time as they wish. Mini habits should not be used for behaviors that are already habitual. I do not have an exercise habit of doing one push-up a day because I already have the exercise habit. Anywhere you or your child struggles to establish a habit, however, is a great area to use mini habits.
What about mini homeschool habits for you? How about checking work, record keeping, and filing?
The key to making mini habits stick is to track them daily. Do them every day. I did mine over Christmas too. The traditional way of tracking habits is to mark them off on a paper calendar. You can mark off family mini habits on the calendar together. Be sure that your child marks off her own mini habits. The goal is not to break the chain. You want to do the mini habit every day for as many days in a row as possible. Creating a long chain is motivating in and of itself. No other rewards are required. However, depending on the age of your child, you may want to promise a reward like getting a frozen yogurt after a week of mini habits. The younger the child, the fewer mini habits should be established and the limit for everyone should be three. There is an app I love that is very useful for tracking mini habits called Productive. As I slide to mark my mini habit complete, I am given an encouraging statement and I’m told how many days in a row I’ve completed my habit.
Establishing mini habits changes our homeschools.
As we continue to record our mini habits, our way of thinking changes. For example, I constantly find myself looking for things to declutter. I have realized how easy it is to keep my home decluttered if I am always doing a little bit. I have come to appreciate my print books and how enjoyable reading them is. I have rediscovered the value of doing something like writing every single day. Resistance disappears.
As you work on habits in yourself and in your children, you will also discover the value of completing your habits early in the day. Even though it is possible for me to finish my three mini habits before I go to bed, it’s not optimal. Make it a game with you and your kids to finish your mini habits as early as possible to get to the reward of marking them off.
Eventually, you will have the habits established. You won’t even have to think about them and you can work on establishing new habits. But definitely don’t rush this process. If even doing your mini habits is a struggle, your habits are likely too big. They need to be incredibly simple. Doing even a 10-minute workout every day is too long. A better mini habit might be going outside to walk for one minute or driving to the gym. They sound ridiculously small, but they work to establish positive behaviors with our rebellious psyches. In the effort to establish mini habits in yourself, you’ll come to understand your children’s resistance to certain things much better. You will learn to keep requirements of less rewarding tasks small.
And remember: a mini habit completed is better than nothing.
The momentum and self-confidence you and the kids create by completing mini habits will pay dividends for life. You aren’t just teaching your child to complete tasks; you are teaching your child how to make life changes.
I’m excited to get my kids started on mini habits of musical practice, foreign language practice, and ACT study. I would love to hear what mini habits you choose and how it’s going for you.
You can change your homeschool one mini habit at a time!
I have been sharing sanity savers that my subscribers love for a long time. As I go about my daily living, when I discover something that makes life easier, I share it — just like I do with my local friends and family. I decided it was time to share sanity savers that aren’t time-limited with everyone. What does that mean? Some of my best sanity savers are free, discounted, or available for a limited time. If you’d like access to those codes and resources, you’ll need to become a subscriber (aka friend). It’s free, easy, and tailored to you. Click here to get started.
I absolutely love this time of year. I have time to slow down and make a fresh start. I can make changes that will make me better. That’s what this week’s sanity savers are all about.
#1 A New Bra
It’s been at least eight years since I bought new bras. That is crazy. Bra shopping isn’t my favorite, but I decided it was high time I replaced my bras. The elastic had long since given up. I decided on this Lilyette bra from Amazon. It is a minimizer bra that I need and I purchased one to make sure I liked it. Oh my word. Ladies, I look younger in this bra! The girls no longer look like they’ve given up the fight. I had no idea my old bras were aging me, but they were. I bought multiples of it. The price is so reasonable, making replacement of the lot of them easy.
#2 New Mascara
I had no idea my bras were aging me and I had no idea how to fix a years-long problem of makeup smears under my eyes. I tried numerous eyeliners that were supposed to stay in place, but not one of them worked. I was forced to constantly check my makeup before doing pictures, live broadcasts, or social functions. I took to just wiping under my eyes constantly because I knew my eyeliner had smeared without looking. I saw a Facebook ad for Thrive Causemetics eyeliner that wasn’t supposed to smear. In addition, each purchase would mean makeup would be donated to a needy woman. I liked that. I added a yet-to-be released mascara to my order as well.
My eyeliner arrived first. I was disappointed that I had the same old makeup smears under my eyes. I was ready to just accept that there was something funky about my eyes that made this inevitable. The mascara arrived later and I tried it. I liked it, but I didn’t think it was significantly better than the mascara I was already using. And then something remarkable happened. I no longer had makeup smeared under my eyes. For years I had assumed that my eyeliner was smearing when all along it was the mascara on my lower lashes. This mascara does NOT smear. I’ll be using it exclusively from now on. If you’d like to try it, you can use this link to save $10 on your order. I’ll get a credit to use too. I learned that I’m often chasing my tail when it comes to solving problems.
#3 7 Minute Workout
Short workouts can put you on the path to fitness this year. The 7 Minute Workout App is another tool for you to stay motivated. Lack of time is no longer an excuse. This app offers a complete workout that can wake you up in the morning or keep you going in the afternoon. I love that I can listen to my own music while I do it and go at my own pace. There are many testimonials on how this app has allowed people to lose weight too.
#4 Fitness Journal
Speaking of fitness, planning your workouts and tracking them is a research-backed strategy for reaching your fitness goals. New mom, Kathy Gossen, has created the perfect fitness journal for tracking your way to a whole new you. It’s called the Get2Fit Journal. You have space to track nutrition as well as place to journal, which I’m a huge fan of. Watch my interview with Kathy for even more fitness motivation.
#5 Blessed Life Planner
Can you have too many planners? I don’t think so! What I love about the new Blessed Life Planner in dated and undated versions is it’s a place to keep your spiritual life organized. The first and most popular challenge of The Organized Homeschool Life is to organize devotional time. This beautiful planner makes that possible with space for prayers, gratitude, your mission statement, plus encouraging Scriptures and of course, a place to plan other to-do’s.
#6 The To-Do List Formula
Speaking of to-do’s, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by them, isn’t it? I recently read The To-Do List Formula and loved it. I especially loved the advice to make the number of tasks on your list completable for the day. If you need help managing your to-do list, this book is a winner.
What are you doing to create a whole new you this year? Comment and let me know.
Remember: to get exclusive subscriber discounts and freebies, click here.
The first tip for a saner Christmas is to treat the Christmas season differently. You’ll want to consider again doing a special study for Christmas this season. Consider this unique unit study on Christmas in the White House or an online study from Techie Homeschool Mom. It’s not too late to focus your studies on Christmas itself. But even if you’ve opted not to do a Christmas unit study, you can still change up your homeschooling this time of year. Consider changing your schedule. Church and family and even homeschooling events may keep you up later this time of year. Why not allow everyone to sleep in and start school later? For those of you who have younger children who get up at the crack of dawn no matter how late you stay up, consider having a longer rest time during the day or multiple rest times. Whatever you do, don’t treat this time of year like any other.
#2 Take Time to Get Organized
The second thing we can do to have a saner Christmas this year is to take extra time to get organized. There are plenty of things we can do to get organized for the Christmas season itself, but I am specifically referring to getting organized in your homeschool. Put your bookshelves back in order. File the papers that have accumulated since the beginning of the school year. Put your supplies and other items making your school pace space look out of order away.
Also begin decluttering your house. Use a slower schedule to go room by room to throw away, give away, or sell things you aren’t using. Move items you want to keep but aren’t actively using to storage. Having a decluttered home will make entertaining and even battling potential illness that much easier. Speaking of that, make sure you have everything on hand that you need for colds and flu. You could declutter your home in a weekend. Or using this approach, you could be finished decluttering by Christmas.
#3 Limit Activities
Make a Christmas bucket list with your family. If touring the expensive light display doesn’t make the list, don’t do it! Put all of your anticipated Christmas activities on the calendar so you can view them in one place. The potential for stress and overwhelm will be more evident if you can see everything you’re planning to do. When you see the potential for overwhelm, decide to skip some activities. But skipping is not the only option. You can also reschedule some of these. Celebrating with family on days other then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day can be a real sanity saver. Some families aren’t flexible on this, however. So you will want to use your flexibility for scheduling activities with other people.
One of the best decisions we made in my homeschool co-op was to have our Christmas party in January. Our kids, who aren’t necessarily happy about starting back to school, look forward to this a great deal. We exchange gifts and play Christmas games and even go out to eat. All of these things are easier when they are not smack in the middle of the busiest time of the year. If you are part of a group that has a party, suggest moving it to January. Don’t be discouraged if your suggestion isn’t well received. Suggest it again next year.
#4 Plan Ahead
The next important way to have a saner Christmas this year is to plan ahead. My book, The Organized Homeschool Life, gives you 15-minute missions that enable you to be prepared with Christmas clothing, Christmas decorations, and more this season. But if you’re not on track with the missions in The Organized Homeschool Life, you still have time to be early. The best way to prepare in advance for the holidays is to look through the calendar you created in step three. Make a list of everything you need to buy or do for each event on the calendar. My recommendation is to begin with the first events coming up and work forward from there. However, if you can combine shopping for all of the events on your calendar, you’ll save yourself a lot of time. Perhaps you have a list of items to purchase online. You can do that in one sitting. You could turn a shopping trip for the materials you need into a fun activity with the kids. As you are preparing, consider outfits that your children will need to wear. For some reason, this has always caught me by surprise. Will your child need to be wearing his holiday best for a concert or party? Does your child have shoes, socks, and a belt to look presentable? Now is the time to prepare these items.
Plan ahead for your homeschool too. Pull out books and curriculum you won’t be using next year and give them away or arrange to sell them. Do some research of other curriculum you would like to use next year. Spend time lesson planning for the new year. Be prepared for moans and groans after the holidays. Don’t anticipate hitting it hard immediately after the new year, but find some things to motivate your kids. Kids and moms need fun in January even more than they need it in December.
#5 Keep Things Simple
The fifth way we can have a saner Christmas this year is to keep things simple. If you love elaborate decorating, marathon baking sessions, or shopping for hours, then keep doing those things. But if you don’t love them, ask yourself why you’re doing them. Let me give you an example to get you thinking. I am in charge of a middle school event at my church. I want to provide a snack. Will middle schoolers think less of me or the activity if I provide store-bought snacks as opposed to making fancy Christmas cookies? I think we both know the answer to that. I do enjoy making Christmas cookies, but I don’t have time in my schedule without a lot of stress to make the cookies before the middle school event. I will be purchasing from the store. Here’s another example. If you are attending an ugly Christmas sweater party as I am and you don’t love creating a sweater with hot glue and craft supplies, pick up a premade sweater at the store or even better, ask to borrow one. We want the emphasis this Christmas to be on people and enjoying ourselves with them. If what we are doing to celebrate Christmas adds to our stress level, leading us to become ill, we aren’t going to be able to enjoy our loved ones.
We can keep things simple by buying fewer gifts. We haven’t purchased gifts for my husband’s side of the family in many, many years. We enjoy eating appetizers together on Christmas Day evening. No one has to prepare a full meal. We also enjoy playing games together. Last year we played Reverse Charades and everyone from the oldest to the youngest enjoyed playing together. will provide in the show notes, has one limitation and that is that there aren’t as many cards as I would like. This year I purchased Christmas cards to go with the game.
Talk with your family and friends about not exchanging gifts. If that isn’t an option, consider buying or making one simple gift for most people on your list. You may consider playing a White Elephant Game with a gift that is appropriate or just plain funny for anyone who ends up with it.
When it comes to your kids and close family members, you can limit the number of gifts to three by exchanging gold, frankincense, and myrrh gifts. We have done this in my family for many years and it has saved my sanity. I not only purchase fewer gifts for my children, but the limit and focus of the three types of gifts helps me decide what to buy.
I can give you an example from this Christmas for my own family. I have a son who is constantly asking me for cash. He goes out with his brother who is driving and a friend and loves to buy food. This year his gold gift will be cash in a box. He will love it. My daughter’s frankincense gift will be baking materials. Frankincense is what was burned in an offering to God. Her baking is how she serves God and our family, so these baking materials are an appropriate frankincense gift. I have older boys who are particular about their clothing. This Black Friday when they were around, I asked them to look over clothes that were on sale. I purchased the items as their myrrh gifts this year.
#6 Keep the Focus on Christ
Finally, keep your focus on the reason for the season. The part of the original The Grinch Who Stole Christmas movie where the Whos gather around the tree to sing convicts me every time. All of their food, gifts, and decorations had been stolen from them, but their joy remained. This is who I want to be. I want to model this attitude for my children. Here’s my plan:
First, be as excited about worship and devotions as I am about all the rest of the Christmas stuff. Talk about how you love the music you sing, the decorations at church, and the reading of God’s Word.
Third, make giving a part of your Christmas. Discuss what to give, to whom, and why. Share your joy in giving of your time and money and ask your children to share in the process. Here are 12 ways children can give this Christmas.
I use these tips to have a sane Christmas each year. If I can have a saner Christmas by keeping making the Christmas season unique, getting organized, planning ahead, limiting activities, keeping things simple, and making Christ the focus of Christmas, so can you.
Which of these tips will help you the most? Let me know in the comments.
Before we can think about ways to get past guilt, we need an understanding of how guilt is to function in our lives. Guilt is like a warning light designed to get us back on track. When that warning indicator is functioning correctly, we can make the changes we need to make and that indicator will disappear. If you’ve ever had a car like I have that has an indicator that goes off inappropriately or constantly, you know how annoying it can be. Sometimes our guilt is not an accurate indicator. When we’ve clearly done something wrong, guilt can drive us to apologize or change our behavior. But inappropriate guilt is like that annoying, always-on indicator in the car. We try to ignore it, but we often wonder if there really is a problem we need to address. Inappropriate guilt takes our focus off of what we need to be doing.
If a warning light on my car keeps going off, I can take my car to the shop and have it tested. The problem can either be fixed or the indicator can be turned off. But what do we do about guilt that keeps popping up? There’s no guilt shop to go to, or is there?
My contention is that if we allow God’s Word to diagnose our guilty indicator, we will often find either a quick solution or discover that our guilt is the only real problem. When we allow the world’s standards to determine whether our guilt is a real problem or not, we will likely drive through our homeschooling lives constantly feeling guilty.
Now that we understand the problem of guilt in our lives, what do we do about it?
The first thing we can do is confess.
If we have done something that God’s Word would say is worthy of guilt, the next step is confession. We are to confess our guilt to God, but we may not want to stop there. We may need to confess our guilt to our families, our friends, or anyone who has been affected by our behavior.
Confession makes sense if our behavior is worthy of guilt, but what if it isn’t? Confession can also work in that circumstance. When we confess to our spouse or our homeschooling friends something we feel guilty about, these godly individuals can help us discern whether the guilt is appropriate or not. My husband has been wonderful in helping me determine appropriate versus inappropriate guilt. He will reason with me and help me release inappropriate guilt. However, he has also pointed me toward changing when he feels my guilt is appropriate. Talking with my homeschooling friends and determining that the standards I have for myself are much too high has also been a very effective way for me to release inappropriate guilt. I highly recommend it. I’ve seen the moms in our HomeschoolScopes.tv Facebook group do this for one another.
I’d like to share a personal example with you. I have sometimes felt guilty that my children don’t have as many friends as kids in school do. My homeschooling mom friends have helped me to let go of that guilt. Children don’t require a large number of friends and I am providing my kids with the best education I can in the most loving, social environment possible.
Do the good you ought to do.
The second way we can get past guilt is to do the good we ought to do. We can instantaneously feel better by making even a small step in the right direction. If you know the right thing is to teach your children their math facts and you’ve been avoiding it and feeling guilty, the easiest way to get past the guilt is to go over those math facts. In fact, doing something you’re reluctant to do, for whatever reason, is much less painful than living with the guilt. Think about what one small step you could take in the right direction that would relieve your guilt and take it today. Don’t put it off!
Of course, if you are suffering with inappropriate guilt, then acting on that guilt is not the right step to take. After spending time in prayer, reviewing God’s word, and confessing your guilt to people you trust, discern whether or not you are suffering from inappropriate guilt. If you are, continue with the remaining steps.
Avoid situations that encourage inappropriate guilt.
Step three is to avoid situations that encourage inappropriate guilt. It’s harder to avoid the situations that lead to an errant indicator in your car, but it is possible to avoid them as homeschooling moms. Is there a certain someone who makes everything from scratch, does elaborate science experiments, or is one of those homeschooling wonder women? If so, you may need to avoid her until you get your inappropriate guilt under control. Likewise, you may need to take a break from social media. The perfect Pinterest Photoshopped images may give you guilt. If understanding that these images don’t represent real life doesn’t relieve your guilt, take a break from Pinterest. Do the same with Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
Consider who you are in the body of Christ.
The next step is to consider who you are in the body of Christ. I have a sister-in-law who shares the Gospel with nearly every person she meets. Numerous times I have felt guilty that my witnessing is paltry in comparison. But then I go to God’s Word and I am in prayer and I discover that God has given each of us a part to play. We are not all called to the same works. Imagine if we were! What a mess it would be. I can feel good about who God created me to be and the part He created me to play. I don’t have to compete with my sister-in-law’s way of witnessing or feel guilty when I don’t even try. Think about the gifts, talents, and interests you have. Would you want your loved ones to feel guilty if they don’t share those? I’m sure the answer is no. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love and let go of the guilt.
Lower your standards.
The fifth step is lower your standards. I had a friend whose defibrillator fired in her chest when her heart rate reached a certain level. That firing understandably caused pain and anxiety. Her doctor determined that the standards set for the defibrillator needed to be changed. It shouldn’t have fired. Like that defibrillator, some of us have to change our standards so as to avoid pain, anxiety, and guilt. One of the most common reasons for our standards being too high is that we don’t really believe we are acceptable. We haven’t fully trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ in our lives. For most of us, this is subconscious. We are working and trying and striving as I discussed in my post on when strivings cease. The result is anxiety, stress, and guilt.
One of the most stressful situations for a homeschooler is being evaluated. Some homeschoolers are evaluated every year in their state, while others are never evaluated unless there is a legal problem. Imagine how you would feel if your homeschool had been evaluated and certified as fully acceptable. I believe in that case, we would feel free to homeschool without fear or guilt. While our homeschools probably haven’t been certified by an outside agency, we can know that we are fully acceptable to God–not because of anything we’ve done but because of what Jesus has done. He continues to work in us and through us and because He does, we can have freedom from inappropriate guilt. We can homeschool with peace and joy, knowing He is in control of our homeschool.
Homeschool in love.
The final tip I want to share with you for getting past guilt is homeschooling in love. It’s hard to make homeschool decisions. We often don’t know what the priority is, what the best classes or curriculum are, or how we should be spending our time. But love is always the right choice. When our homeschooling is done in love for God, for our families, and even for ourselves, we will be free from guilt. Let me explain that last part about loving ourselves. Genuine love should provoke no guilt. Love means providing the same time, opportunities, and gifts to ourselves that we would provide to anyone we love. Feeling guilt over taking time alone, to be with friends, or to engage in hobbies that renew us makes no sense because these things enable us to love others. Jesus never appeared to feel guilty over resting or being alone.
Allowing ourselves to be ruled by inappropriate guilt can lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual dysfunction. If we do not take steps to get past guilt, whether that is appropriate or inappropriate guilt, we do our families, our friends, and our Lord a disservice. We don’t model a healthy approach to guilt and we do not fulfill God’s purposes for our lives and our homeschools.
In conclusion, it is possible to get past guilt. When guilt is appropriate, we can confess it and make changes. We can feel instant relief. When guilt is inappropriate, we can avoid situations that encourage guilt, consider our role in the body of Christ, lower our standards, and focus on homeschooling in love — including loving ourselves.
What makes you feel the most guilty as a homeschool mom and which of these steps is most likely to help you get past it?
You don’t have to be early to save big this Black Friday and Cyber Monday on curriculum, homemaking helps, organizing products and more.
You just have to be organized!
Most of these sales will run through Cyber Monday, so don’t panic. You have a few days to save. But you do need help organizing all of the sales. I wanted to organize them for myself, so I used Airtable, one of my favorite online organizing tools. I’ve organized the sales in this table by category so you can take advantage of the ones you need. Scroll through the table to view all the savings you won’t want to miss.
Of course, I want to highlight the sale of The Organized Homeschool Life and Grammar Galaxy language arts curriculum. You’ll get 25% off with code BLACKFRI2017. Click on the links in the table below to use my affiliate links (if I have one).
Which of these sales are you most excited about? Comment and let me know.
Do you have a friend who is looking for a deal? Forward this post.
Before we can talk about strategies for trusting God more, we have to talk about what leads us away from trusting God in the first place.
Re-evaluate your strengths
My story is that I was called to homeschool, even though I did not want to. I knew nothing about homeschooling, including the fact that I would love it so much. Yet somehow after trying and failing, I determined that I had what it took to be a successful homeschooler. Like Paul in the New Testament, we can feel as though we are fully qualified by the world’s standards. I am a psychologist, so it stands to reason that I would know how to discipline and motivate my children, such that they would be excellent students and people. I was also an A student myself. It seems that I would be able to understand the material that I would be teaching my children. And even though I have not taken any education courses, I did teach at the university level, so certainly I would be qualified to teach K-12. To top it off, I now have more than 18 years of experience in teaching my own children and my friends’ children. I have successfully graduated two students, one of which was homeschooled all the way through high school. Both are getting A’s in college. You can see that I have ample temptation to think that I am a good homeschooler in my own strength. I don’t have to depend on God.
Even if you do not have a PhD and you haven’t been homeschooling for as long as I have, you, too, have qualifications that tempt you to rely on yourself for success in homeschooling. Consider what those are. Perhaps you were a classroom teacher before you began homeschooling. Perhaps you have done a huge amount of research on homeschooling and you feel confident that you know you are homeschooling for the right reasons and have chosen the best homeschooling approach. Perhaps you have a very supportive family and homeschooling network. You feel as though you can’t fail. Whatever your reasons for feeling qualified, those reasons can keep you from trusting God.
Here’s why that’s a problem. If your students do well, if they place in the Bible bee, if they are a top player in their sport of choice, if your student’s testing suggests that he or she is well above grade level, you can take the credit. The Bible calls that pride. Yet none of our so-called qualifications are really ours. Every advantage I have in homeschooling my children is a blessing from God. I did not create any of them myself. The same is true for you. While taking pride in our children’s successes can feel good while we are riding the high, the fall will be even harder. My children have embarrassed me on many, many occasions. The clinical psychologist has seemed unable to teach her children to use the potty on a reasonable schedule, to get overfood fears, or to make me look good in public. They have scored poorly on some aspects of achievement testing and have given evidence that’s they haven’t been taught certain key concepts. Guess why? Then there is the issue of misbehavior. If I’m going to take credit for my homeschooling because of my qualifications, I also bear full responsibility for my children’s behavior. This burden of trying to ensure that my children succeed spiritually, academically, and socially is too heavy a yoke for me. If it is also too heavy a yoke for you, I advise you to consider that your worldly qualifications for homeschooling are worthless. If you acknowledge that you are weak and unable to help your children become all that God wants for them to be, your burden will be light. Your yoke will be easy. I know I am simply not capable of training and teaching six children to their strengths, for the purposes God has for them. So many times I am at a loss when it comes to discipline, choosing curriculum, and arranging experiences that I think will prepare them for an uncertain future. I am weak, but therefore I am strong. In my weakness I can rely on God’s strength and wisdom to home educate each of my children, and you can too.
Determine what you really want
The second way we can trust God in our homeschools is to reevaluate what we really want. At first we may think what we want is for each of our children to go to college on a full-ride scholarship. Perhaps we think we want our child to win a top award in the activity of their choice. But this isn’t what we really want. We want children who trust and walk with God. We have no idea how to raise children who live this way, but God does. As a tenderhearted mama, I want everything to go smoothly for my children. Yet that path is unlikely to lead to a strong faith. I have to leave my children’s salvation and faith life in God’s hands. No matter how wonderful our Bible curriculum, our church, or our kids’ Christian friends, God is the author and perfecter of our children’s faith. What we really want isn’t children who make us look good. What we really want is His peace. If I trust in myself and my own abilities for our homeschool, I know too well my shortcomings. I’m going to be perpetually anxious about my children’s future. I know that there are things I’ve spent too much time on and things I haven’t spent enough time on. I know my character has not been above reproach. I have been lax in parenting in some areas and overly strict in others. If my children and their future is up to me, I have a lot to worry about. But if I put my children’s future and our homeschooling into God’s hands, I can be secure. I know that He will either prompt me to make a change and to do His will or He will take my wesk efforts at homeschooling and use them for good. I can not only have peace, but I can have joy in my homeschooling.
I used to do public speaking for competition when I was in high school and college. Speaking when every word counted and I was being evaluated and compared was very distressing. I often had to run to the bathroom before a competition. I found it hard to sleep the night before competitions, too. But now that I speak without that fear, I enjoy it. I have no nervousness about it. In the same way, we as homeschoolers can rediscover our joy in homeschooling when we know that a record isn’t being kept. And even when records are being kept by law, we know that it’s God’s responsibility to help us make the grade. Which of us would not rather have God’s peace over pride in our children’s accomplishments?
Be in the Word
To trust God in our homeschools, we must be in the Word. The Bible reviews God’s work in His people’s lives. We see that God’s purposes are always accomplished, despite his people’s failings. No plan of His can be thwarted, not even by us. Make time to read scripture as frequently as you can. Read scripture while you are nursing, listen to Scripture while you are walking, read the Bible as part of your homeschooling. However you are in the Word, read it to refresh your faith in a trustworthy God. Don’t read as an obligation but to fulfill your need for trust in Him — so you can return to His peace in your homeschooling.
Review how God has helped us through the years
The fourth way we can trust God in our homeschools is to review how God has helped us through the years. The Israelites constantly reviewed God’s mercies and miracles in their lives. They told their children and their grandchildren about them and in the process were reminded that God was trustworthy for them as well. We can and should do the same in our families. Consider all the worries you have had in the past. Think about all the tough situations you have been through. If you’re like me, most of the things you worried about did not happen. Your worry was wasted time and energy. And those things that you did experience that were very difficult and painful, looking back you can see that God was sustaining you. You can see how He used what was meant for evil for your good. I do admit that we probably all have an experience or two that we don’t understand. Maybe we still don’t see God’s purpose or hand in a situation that has caused us great pain. However, when we look at God’s record in our lives, we see that there is ample reason to trust Him for those circumstances and our homeschooling too. We know that even if our daughter just doesn’t get algebra, that God has a plan for her. He has a hope and a future for her. If we are having trouble finding homeschooling friends, we can consider how he has met our needs for friendship in the past and trust Him to meet our needs in the future. If we don’t know where the money for books or activities will come from next year, we can remember how all our needs have been provided for thus far. As you consider the future, remember that God often provides for us day-to-day. He doesn’t give us a five-year plan or budget. If God has helped us thus far, that is enough.
Read about how God has helped others
A fifth way we can trust God with our homeschools is to read the stories of men and women who have trusted God in far more serious circumstances than ours. We can read about men like George Mueller who trusted God with all of the finances needed to care for 10,000 orphans. We can read about men like Nate Saint whose premature death was used by God to bring a lost people to Him. We can read about men like Ben Carson whose academic career was less than stellar at the beginning, yet God enabled him to become a surgeon who has helped people in the most serious medical circumstances. Read the answers to prayer on the Guideposts website.
Pray little prayers
The final way that I want to share with you to help you trust God in your homeschooling is to pray little prayers. We can get the idea that God only cares about the big prayers, the relative who has cancer, the family provider who is out of a job, the poor people in oppressed countries. When we believe in a God who only cares about big prayers, it’s understandable that we wouldn’t trust Him in our homeschooling. Does God care about algebra? Does he care that your son still isn’t reading? Does he care that you have no idea how you’re going to get everything done before co-op? I can tell you that he cares about each of these things and so much more, but you won’t believe me until you pray and see God’s response. I have learned that God cares about frivolous things like rain messing up my hair before I give a speech, a close parking spot when time is of the essence, finding a dress for an important occasion that’s on sale. He will answer these kinds of prayers if you pray them because He loves us. So often we forget that God is a more loving parent then we are. We care about these little requests that our children have, so how much more does God? To learn to trust God in your homeschooling and experience His piece, begin praying little prayers. Allow him to demonstrate His love for you in this.
In conclusion, reevaluate your strengths, determine what you really want, read God’s Word, review how God has helped you over the years, read about how God has helped others, and if you will pray little prayers, you can learn to trust God more in your homeschool. This is my desire and I highly commend this goal to you in the new year.