Homeschooling in Time of Trials
by Tamara Eaton
No matter what we're going through in life, if God has called us to homeschool, He will give us the grace, wisdom and strength! In all the years we've homeschooled, we've done so through many different circumstances and trials. It's not like God calls us to homeschool and we say, "OK, Lord, now will you please hold off all the trials for the next 12 years so we'll be able to really concentrate on academics?" He promises to help us THROUGH the trials, and in the MIDST of the trials!
There have been periods of time when we didn't accomplish as much academically as I'd planned because of major moves, new babies, busy toddlers, a major illness, and other challenging circumstances, but guess what? Through it all we not only survived, but the Lord blessed and worked in many other areas of our lives! It was good for our kids to see us trust God in trials, they grew stronger spiritually. And they didn't really suffer academically either because we operate on a year round, relaxed homeschool as a part of our whole lifestyle plan. I like what William Butler Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Homeschooling parents are busy lighting fires and those fires continue to burn in spite of difficult circumstances if we have helped our children enjoy learning during their early years.
At times those challenging homeschooling periods were a blessing in disguise because they kept me from trying to imitate "school at home" in the earlier years. I was forced to have a relaxed attitude and look to our textbooks or curriculum as "tools" to enrich our homeschool instead of being a slave to them. As a result, our children really enjoyed learning and didn't get burned out from too much formal studies.
It also helps to look at the overall picture in light of Eternity. What does *God* want us to accomplish in homeschooling our children? Has He called us to homeschool? Has He not promised to give us wisdom and strength? If we're experiencing trials is it not because He has allowed them for a purpose in our life? Is He not still in control? Nothing catches Him off guard! We can certainly trust Him to work out all the "details"! We all have seasons of our lives when circumstances aren't the best--we just have to trust the Lord to help us do the best we can and to "fill in any gaps".
He has used the trials to help *mold* me into the person that I should be...patience comes from overcoming trials, from learning not to allow our circumstances to determine our attitudes, but instead yielding to the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of flesh! We are inadequate at times, but GOD isn't! He promises to use us to minister to our children and He will enable us to care for their needs if we will just trust Him.
Sometimes when things get out of whack, we call a family meeting and lay out the problems and prayerfully discuss solutions and enlist everyone's help. It needs to be made clear that this is not just "Mom's problem" but everyone needs to pitch in and work together as a family.
If we or our kids are stressed out, fussy and exhausted, something has to give! We have to take time to examine the situation as objectively as possible. Get to the root of the problem. Then trust God for wisdom to fix it. Ignoring it and hoping it will resolve itself won't work!
It's amazing how you can feel all overwhelmed and bogged down only to dig through all the stuff you're going through and find out the root of the problem is something you hadn't considered before...like if the kids' attitudes are straightened out, your homeschooling will be less of a burden and more of a joy! You can live without catching up with the laundry or having a spotless house, but when you have disobedient, grumpy, uncooperative kids, you want to RUN AWAY from home! THAT is what needs to be worked on first! Or maybe you're not getting enough rest because of too many commitments--simplify your life! Then everything else will fall into place as you trust the Lord for wisdom and direction.
Now for some practical suggestions--how about getting the kids motivated so that even if you are especially busy, the older ones can continue doing their work on their own and even help supervise the younger ones?
When I had small children and had to "homeschool from the couch or bed" (or perhaps from a rocking chair with a new baby or sick child), I often set up a little table with chairs right beside me so the younger ones could spend quiet time coloring or doing "school work" nearby. It's helpful to keep some boxes of "quiet" toys and educational games in storage just to bring out or rotate on challenging days. It's also VERY helpful to consistently work on Biblical child training principles BEFORE you experience trials so that you only have to tell your little one once to do something and he will obey without delay!
Homeschooling gives us flexibility in teaching our children, on days we don't accomplish much "academically", then we can take time in the early evening to go over something or make it up on the weekends. Or use the summer to work on any weak areas. It also helps to find ways for the kids to learn "painlessly" through interesting hobbies, fascinating books, wholesome PBS TV or videos, computer software, educational games, etc. Then they're still enjoying learning even if you had to stay up all night with a sick child and can't even function well enough to put a complete sentence together!
In some ways the past two years have been the most difficult of my life but God has NEVER let me down, He has *carried* me through it all and given me the grace I needed so that regardless of the circumstances at times, I still have been able to enjoy my family and minister to their needs. Sometimes not physically as much because of some health trials, but always emotionally and spiritually.
What God has given me to share in this area doesn't come out of a life that has been perfect and without trials, but from a life that has meant trusting Jesus in the midst of the trials, focusing on His Word instead of all the circumstances and seeing Him ALWAYS faithful! The Lord wants to encourage us all to come to Him when we are weary, when we are in trials, in fact, ALL the time! He delights in our dependence upon Him. Even when it seems as though darkness is all around, HE will be our light and lead us in His way.
"Why do you say, Oh Jacob, and speak, O Israel: "My way is hidden from the Lord and my just claim is passed over by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. " Isaiah 40:27-31
"...count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting..." James 1:2-6
Oh that we might all look to Him for our strength and wisdom!
© Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to :Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645.
We have always homeschooled our six children (elementary through high school and beyond!) and enjoy encouraging other families in their homeschooling, parenting and in the Lord! For more help and information, please join us on the Christian Homeschool Fellowship Message Board.
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."