By now, the lot of us that begin our homeschooling days around a traditional school calendar are steadily swimming into the depths of reading, writing, and arithmetic. We’re finding the strokes that suit us best and the ones that can carry us along to the other side of the shore.
Unfortunately, for many of us, we can find ourselves treading water and growing weary from the get go.
Oh how frustrating this can be especially when we had a plan in mind – a plan of days floating on our back, blissfully delighting in newly found knowledge with our children.
A child startled by a bad dream, snuck into bed with us at 2am to be comforted. Mama barely snuck in a few more winks as wild arms and legs profusely flapped around like the tentacles of a giant octopus. Mama rolled out of bed much later than usual, the other children needed to be reminded several times to finish their chores, breakfast was late on the table, which means so was the start of the school day. Morning time, in all of its richness, was met with frustration from everyone, including Mama, and so ensued the rest of the day.
A couple of years ago, a desire to check all the boxes would have left my nerves unraveled and my frustrations spat upon my children. There would have been tears, including my own, as we raced against the clock to get everything done.
With unmet expectations, homeschool can become a source of stress for everyone. The sad part is that homeschool can then become something dreaded rather than enjoyed. In other words, the very act of learning, by both parent and child, can be thought of as a chore, stripped of all delight.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Your days can be filled in truth, beauty, and goodness that your heart desires.
3 Books Every Homeschooling Mother Should Read
When my family started, Our Journey to Homeschool, we were by no means prepared. We jumped right in, clinging to the hope that God would carry us through, day-by-day.
As I mentioned in my post, How We’ve Become a Family that Reads, I am so thankful that the Lord brought us to the My Father’s World curriculum at a time when I felt overwhelmed with the idea of educating my children at home. The My Father’s World curriculum follows a Charlotte Mason and classical method of education with a biblical worldview and international focus.
When I opened our kindergarten package I was interested in a little book it contained titled, For the Children’s Sake, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. It was this book that introduced me to Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education. Unlike Mason’s original volumes which were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this book condenses her philosophy in modern English for those that are just learning about her methods of education.
Once I started reading this book, I was encouraged that I could homeschool my children at home and that it could be good and beautiful. In starting to learn about her philosophy, I began to understand the importance in short lessons, living books, and narration. Finally, I enjoyed that in the My Father’s World curriculum, outdoor exploration days were scheduled in and, as you can imagine, fast became our favorite day of the week.
For the Children’s Sake, was what this scared Mama needed to recognize the potential and beauty in this new life my family was embarking on.
As days turned into years, we found ourselves in wonder and tears. There were days swimming through peaceful waters, where my children and I found delight in what we were learning and in each other’s company. There were also days of torrential downpour, where tears have fallen like rain.
Homeschooling can be hard.
It can be especially hard for people like myself that came to homeschooling with a public school mentality. I call Big Brother my guinea pig because I’ve learned many things through my mistakes teaching him.
I shouldn’t have started kindergarten with Big Brother until age 6.
In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. (Vol. 1, p. 44)
Some children may be ready by age 5; however, Big Brother was not. Although I pulled him out of public school, I should have finished the year by simply snuggling up on the couch with him, feasting on good living picture books together. Then, exploring to our hearts desire in outdoor play. That’s all he needed at the time.
Instead, I had high expectations of my boy that led to many tearful days. We went through a couple of years swimming through calm and rough waters; however, I never felt a sense of rest nor the ability to forgive myself until I read, Teaching from Rest, A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakeable Peace, by Sarah Mackenzie.
Mama’s, if you have days when you’re feeling weary and overwhelmed, this is a must read.
Enlaced in scripture, this book reminded me why I started homeschooling in the first place, Making God Real in the Lives of My Children. After a few years of schooling at home, I finally began to understand what it means to homeschool. This book allowed me to let go of my expectations and understand that homeschooling means living life, all of it, enwrapped in education. I learned that oftentimes this means letting go of my plans and my checklist in favor of the flexibility that homeschooling brings. This can look like a day where we set aside our pencils in favor of snuggling up on the couch, listening to a good book (like the BGF!), over a hot cup of tea.
Teaching from rest, was what this high expectation Mama needed to find rest, peace, and joy in her homeschool day.
As I mentioned in my post, How We’ve Become a Family that Reads, last year was our best homeschooling year we’ve ever had. As I’ve started to educate myself more on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason and have spent time in pursuing rest, peace, and joy in our home atmosphere, we have begun to find more delight in learning.
As romantic as that sounds, we’re still human and sinful. We still have days where Mama is weary, the boys are just not wanting to put forth their best effort, etc … I don’t frown upon these days like I used to. These realities show me my need for a living God. We try to roll with it – some days, better than others.
When I found out that Cindy Rollins, a seasoned homeschooling mother of nine, online blogger, and host of The Mason Jar podcast, was coming out with a memoir, I squealed with excitement to be able to read her story. I’m not even kidding!
As someone still in the early years of homeschooling, listening to the wisdom of another mother that has come before me is invaluable. That is what I absolutely love about listening to Cindy Rollins. She has perspective and always in light of Christ.
This book sent me to the moon! I laughed with her, shed a few tears, and was encouraged that this crazy homeschooling life is worth it! I loved that she was able to share so many intimate stories about life, real crazy life, and how homeschooling is interweaved. It helped me rush to my homeschool plans (FREE CM planner here) to prepare for another year in living and learning with my family.
Mere Motherhood, was the perspective this Mama needed to remember that our children’s childhood is fleeting and to find joy in the everyday life that comes with living and educating at home.
Persevere, my homeschooling Mama’s!
No matter where you are at in your homeschooling journey, whether you’re just starting, in the early years, or beyond, I hope these books can be as much of an encouragement to you as they have been for me.