When word came from our governor that schools were closing until May 4 because of COVID-19, I’ll admit my heart skipped a beat with happiness. While many parents dreaded these quarantine weeks, I welcome my new extended hours with my children.
This school year has been a joyful, albeit sometimes bittersweet, exercise in loving and letting go. In the fall, all four of my children began hybrid-schooling (part-homeschool, part-conventional school) after seven years of homeschooling. I’ve loved watching them thrive in their new schools, even as I’ve missed being their primary teacher.
Since our governor issued his stay-at-home order, my children’s amazing teachers have pulled together resources quickly and handled these challenging times with grace. They send daily work and host online classes and Zoom chats. At home, I coordinate my children’s schoolwork, proctor their exams, and help answer questions.
It has been a big shift to add these new responsibilities to my own workload. Nevertheless, I am relishing this unexpected opportunity to gain once again a front row seat to my children’s learning processes. Through the years, God has used homeschooling as an education for my own heart.
Ready or not, it’s back to school for me too.
Home Education for Parents
When folks ask me about homeschooling my four children, I often tell them that it is like potty training your toddler. Few parents contract out training for this elemental skill, and I want them to see they’ve been educating their children all along. Whether teaching potty training or eating with utensils or tying shoes, all parents are their children’s first teachers.
Teaching our children often becomes an education for us too, a sanctification of our own hearts.
We all know the challenges and victories associated with educating our children; we’ve done it since they were little. But if we’re honest, teaching our children often becomes an education for us too, a sanctification of our own hearts.
During my homeschooling years, I’ve discovered my lack of patience, my stubbornness, and my fragile ego, hidden alongside fascinating facts about geography and history. I have uncovered so many areas of my life that still need to be redeemed by God’s grace, so many places where God still needs to remake me into his image.
Far from making me feel superior, homeschooling has often prompted soul searching, confession, and repentance.
Sanctification at Home
Hardest of all, homeschooling has required me to wrestle with my own sinfulness in front of an audience. My children have seen my best and worst. They watch me lose my patience and need to apologize. They see me admit I don’t know an answer but pridefully brush off an opportunity to look it up.
By watching my foibles and failures, they are learning that being an adult means needing to prioritize, keep commitments, and be honest about struggles. They are learning that Christlikeness is formed in the most unglamorous of ways—over a math lesson, while shaping an essay, when a science experiment goes haywire.
Christlikeness is formed in the most unglamorous of ways—over a math lesson, while shaping an essay, when a science experiment goes haywire.
God has used our close proximity day after day to form my character in this vulnerable way, as our iron has sharpened iron over work around our kitchen table.
Our family’s homeschooling years haven’t always been easy. We’ve schooled through learning challenges, family illness, job changes, moves, grief, and now a pandemic. It hasn’t been all awe-inspiring nature walks and Little House on the Prairie. I’ve sat beside my children as they struggled and failed and tried again. I’ve seen their character form as they learned to cite, not plagiarize; complete an assignment, not call it quits halfway through.
God has used homeschooling to shave off many of my rough edges and expose places where I need his redeeming work. Even though my years of teaching my children haven’t always been a pretty picture, I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. No activity in my life has done more to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit.
Celebrating the Season
I know that our current schooling situation, made necessary by coronavirus, will be relatively short-lived. Eventually my children will return part-time to school, and our days of snuggling on the sofa doing math and social studies will end.
If I am willing, Jesus will use schooling at home to make me more like him.
I’ll go back to a sideline view of their progress, relying on what they share in the car on the way home and what their teachers tell me. To everything there is a season. When the time comes, I’ll be excited to see them return to the classrooms where they’ve grown so much this year.
Nonetheless, I am grateful for these weeks we will spend together in mandated schooling at home. Homeschooling has given me a unique opportunity to live out that ancient Hebrew instruction: “Teach [these things] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
If I embrace the opportunity, I will also be taught as I sit reviewing math facts with one child or helping another structure a research paper. If I am willing, Jesus will use schooling at home to make me more like him.