School Year Preparations

For many homeschooling moms, the beginning of a new school year is just ahead! In this Mom’s Corner, I would like to share with you three suggestions for making the coming school year the success that you want it to be.

As I approached the first day of school last year, I was dreading it! I wasn’t ready for the changes full-time school would bring. I knew that if my spirit wasn’t right, my children’s wouldn’t be either. I cried out to the Lord concerning the state of my heart, and He answered me.

The Lord encouraged me to set aside the Saturday night before our first day of school as a time to dedicate the school year to Him. I worked on Friday and Saturday to complete all the practical, weekend tasks I had to do so that my Saturday evening would be free. I shared with my family what I was planning and received my husband’s blessing. As I waited for my evening with the Lord, I jotted down areas that I wanted to pray about.

After dinner that evening, I gathered up school books, schedules, assignments—anything that had to do with our school. I carried them into my bedroom and stacked them in piles. I pulled out my prayer notes and started praying for our school, for Steve, and for myself.

Then, child by child, I placed their school materials in front of me. I thumbed through them and made notes as to what I thought might be difficult areas for the child. I noted that on my prayer list. Then I prayed for each child and their school year. If the Lord brought ideas to mind during the prayer time, I paused, made a note, and then continued on.

I had such a sweet, sweet time with the Lord that it completely transformed my heart toward beginning school again. I would counsel any homeschooling mom, whether she is excited about her school year or dreading it, to set aside a special time to pray about and dedicate her school to the Lord. This might even be something a husband and wife could do together in addition to Mom praying alone.

Psalms 37:5 says, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” I certainly saw the fruit of this as I purposed, in a different way than I ever had in the past, to commit my school year to Him. I am planning to do this every year!

The second area I would like to encourage you in is chore assignments. This would include making a list of each child’s chores, scheduling a time for them to accomplish the chores, setting aside time for you to check their chores, and agreeing upon consequences when the chores aren’t done properly. I have found that one of the most draining aspects of homeschooling is not the schooling itself, but getting children to fulfill their household responsibilities before and after school. For more information about chores, see our book, Managers of Their Chores: A Practical Guide to Children's Chores.

What do you do if the child assigned to wash breakfast dishes doesn’t do them or takes five times longer than he should? You need to have thought through the possibilities and have consequences in place so that you aren’t frustrated when this occurs. We can handle failure in our children calmly when the consequences have been planned out for future use.

When assigning chores and consequences, try to keep personalities in mind. Don’t give your dawdler a mission-critical chore that must be accomplished before school can start. If he is the only choice for the job, try giving him a “first school activity” that can easily be made up in his free time later in the day, since some days he might have to spend that slot of school time doing his chore.

The last area I would like address has to do with curriculum. Having prayed about what to use for school this year, be wary of any dissatisfaction you might experience toward your curriculum. The Lord may have a different purpose for those materials that don’t seem to be working out as you expected.

When something isn’t going well, we are very quick to desire a curriculum change. I know, because I have “been there” many times during the past sixteen years of homeschooling! Perhaps your six-year-old’s phonics program isn’t working out the way you envisioned. It may be that you should lead your child through at a much, much slower pace while he matures and gradually grasps the material. Could it be your child needs to learn, even at six, to push himself beyond his comfort zone? Maybe you are to learn an extra measure of patience. We can rob our children, and ourselves, of these valuable lessons by “jumping” curriculum too quickly.

I pray that as we enter a new homeschooling year we will seek the Lord on our knees before we ever start the first day of school. May we look for His solutions in helping our children learn responsibility. May we also rest in His purposes for the curriculum choices He has led us to make.

If you would like to view our current school schedule, you can do so.

Who Has Time?

He lay in bed with his broken right arm strapped to his waist. It must have been broken in such a way that they couldn’t cast it but had to immobilize it in this fashion. He wanted to call his brother, and with great difficulty, he reached with his left arm to grab the phone from the hospital bed holder. He had hiked up his nightshirt to dial with a finger from the restrained arm. I asked if I could help him, and with a twinkle in his eighty-year-old eye he said, “I learned a long time ago, you can do anything you really want to!”

Another dear brother in Christ has paralyzed legs. Helpers have to use a hoist to get him from his bed to his wheelchair. Not only do his legs not work, but they are quite painful. That is his life, patient suffering. He is always waiting on someone to help him with his every need. Yet, I can’t ever remember him complaining. He shares Jesus first by the peace and joy everyone witnesses and then by the confession of his lips. He speaks of how Jesus saved him and that He will save you as well. Finally, he shares about how good God is.

Most families are getting close to a new homeschool year beginning again. The books have been ordered and received by now. Mom has looked over her curriculum and is doing some planning and mapping out of the year. Yet, homeschooling often provides some real challenges.

In our home there is usually a spirit of anticipation mixed with a bit of apprehension. The new year always brings about some character-training challenges. For example, a while ago, during the confession time of our evening family worship, there were no confessions at all. We try to ask forgiveness when offenses occur during the day. However, if anyone didn’t ask forgiveness earlier, then the evening time is when we clear our consciences before bed. After a long, quiet pause, I asked, “Hasn’t someone offended someone else in the day and not made it right?”

One of the younger ones stated innocently, “Daddy, we didn’t have school today.”

We can let the difficult situations of homeschooling that arise be discouraging or embrace them as occasions to prove and hone our children’s (and all too frequently our own) character. This is the area where Teri seems to need my help with homeschooling the most. I am asked to help differentiate between such things as sin and youthful carelessness in the children, slothfulness and inability, and then provide direction and motivation for improvement.

I have found there is never a good time in my schedule for the difficulties that arise. However, these situations tend to expose my real priorities. If raising men and women of God is one of my highest priorities, then how can I not have time to intervene, think, pray, and restore as needed when one of these growth opportunities comes along for the children?

When I find myself thinking I am too busy and resent the need for my attention when a situation arises, I’m showing that I am not committed to Teri’s success in teaching the children. It is a real wake-up call for me when I sense I’m feeling like that. I then repent of my selfish and sinful attitude and ask Jesus for wisdom in both the situation and managing my time. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). When I think of the investment Teri is making in our children’s lives as she teaches them, I am ashamed if I find myself resentful when she needs my time.

Those two men whom I shared about in the beginning of this Dad’s Corner are powerful reminders as to how I am called to love and lead this family. My time is not my own. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

When situations requiring my attention cause resentment in my heart, I am showing I’m no more mature than one of the children who is struggling in doing what they must do. I am humbled as I look to those two men I wrote about in the beginning. We can do anything that Christ is leading us to do, if we put our mind to it. If we are hopelessly buried in our work, then we must depend all the more on Jesus. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We don’t give of our time grudgingly but cheerfully. We demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in these times. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25). We live out the reality of our walk with Jesus each day with our family. May we be leaders putting our families’ needs first and helping our wives to be successful no matter what it costs us. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).