Homeschooling is hard work, not because teaching academics is so taxing (that’s the easy part!), but because it can be mentally and physically exhausting to be needed by many little people for so many different things in a day.
Selfishness in my own life often rears its ugly head and threatens to rob me of the joy and honor motherhood is by stirring up thoughts about how nice it would be to have a break, how I’m entitled to “me time,” and how much I sacrifice for our children by staying home with them.
On particularly difficult days, when it appears as though no one is learning anything, bickering between siblings seems incessant, the baby is teething, the laundry is piled high, supper doesn’t get made, and I could really use a shower, it’s easy to feel resentful, as though everyone who sends their children to school must surely have a better life than me.
But, they don’t. Their hard is hard, too.
I have a few friends who, through no choice of their own, regretfully send their children away each day. They deal with things I cannot even begin to imagine dealing with, and they are forced to do so because they simply have no other choice.
Their hard involves watching their children fall through the cracks because there is simply not enough staff or resources to provide them with the individualized instruction they need. They stay up until 9, even 10 o’clock at night helping their children with homework and are left with almost no time in the week to enjoy fun family activities. They have children that come home in tears everyday because they’re bullied at school or considered “outcasts” by their peers. Despite putting forth their best effort, grade levels on report cards make their children embarrassed and ashamed, and even though the parents underscore the fact that standardized testing does not take into account all the gifts their children have that cannot be measured by a number, they still believe they’re stupid. They struggle with disagreements with staff and curriculum that they have no power to change. They wonder and worry all day long about how and what their child is doing at school and must accept their partial stories at the dinner table as whole truth.
Are their lives really easier than mine? I highly doubt it. Different, perhaps, but not easier. There are challenges exclusive to either method of education, and while it’s nice to think that each parent can choose their hard, that’s not always the case. While some parents who send their children to school have their hard chosen for them, homeschoolers don’t. We get to choose this way of life! What a blessing!
The choice to homeschool is a rich privilege and should be treated as such. We could do it another way, but we don’t have to.
Our challenges should remind us that we are blessed: blessed with the opportunity to instruct our children in the fear of the Lord as they sit in our house, as we walk by the way, as they lie down, and as they rise up (Deut. 6:7); blessed to be available to provide loving correction at the time it is called for; blessed to be able to choose a curriculum and teaching style that corresponds to our children’s individual strengths and weaknesses; blessed to be able to learn together at an unhurried pace without the pressure of someone else’s schedule and agenda.
Homeschooling is hard – there’s no doubt about it – but, in many ways, it’s much, much easier than anything else. There’s no room for resentment, judgement, or pride about the choice we’ve made. The undeserved freedom of being able to choose to teach our own children should fill us with joy, thankfulness, tenderness, sympathy, and love towards fellow fathers and mothers who are doing their best for their children, too.