Whenever someone writes into the Weaver List about how discouraged they are, my heart hurts for them. They usually talk of their struggles with one or more of their children, of how this is not what they expected of homeschooling, and about how they can’t fit everything into their day. The ladies on the list will encourage them to read Teaching Tips & Techniques, make things fun by adding games, and pray. All excellent advice, but sometimes there are deeper issues of burnout that need to be addressed.
- Why do I want to homeschool?
- Do my children obey and respect me?
- What am I trying to teach them–what’s most important?
- How much time do I have to teach them these things?
Why DO you want to homeschool?
Do you feel this is God’s plan for your family? Homeschooling is an excellent way to educate our children, but not everyone is capable of doing it. Are you homeschooling because someone you know is doing it? Do you not like the public schools in your area? Please do not get defensive! If this question offends you, then you may not be homeschooling for the right reasons. Perhaps God does want you to homeschool, but if your heart is not in tune with His desires, you will fail. I personally struggled with the answer to this question for 10 years. I feel I have finally lined up my heart with God’s and this year is going extremely well, considering all the distractions we’ve had. Don’t try to be like someone else. Don’t try to “look good” to someone else. Seek God’s Will, and you will find your answers.
Do your children obey you?
Do they respect you? There is a difference! Do they treat their Sunday school teachers the way they treat you? Would they consider behaving the same way if their father were in the room with you? One of the first things you need to teach your children is obedience. Do they do what you say the first time, or wait until the third time? I tell my children, “Obedience is doing what I say, when I say it, with a happy heart.” Getting the first two right and the last wrong is not obedience. It’s all or nothing.
If a child is not obedient, you will have a hard time teaching them. Why? Because they will not feel they have any reason to do what you say. If they don’t listen when you ask them to clean their rooms, why should they listen when you ask them to make a timeline? (If you have Teaching Tips & Techniques, read the section on Motivation.) If they don’t want to make a graph, and grumble their way through it, will the graph be their best work? Probably not. You must expect the best from you child or they will not give it. I’m not saying we should be unrealistic about what our children can do–do not push your child to do things above their ability or they will crash and burn trying to please you. But, you know your child–they can write in cursive if they try. It may take longer than writing in manuscript, but that doesn’t matter. They must be motivated to do their best work.
Do not allow disrespect of elders in your home! You are your child’s elder–they should respect and obey you. If they do not show respect for you, they will probably not show respect for their spouse or their boss. Sure, they show respect for their Sunday school teacher, but that is someone they see once a week. A boss they will see five days a week, and a spouse they will see daily–they will get comfortable with these people in their lives, just as they are comfortable with you. Comfortableness should not breed disrespect!
What are you trying to teach your children?
What are the most important subjects, in order? For many families who choose Weaver, the most important subject is Bible. Sit down with a piece of paper and your husband and write out what you are trying to teach. This will be something to refer to over the course of your students’ studies, up until they graduate from high school. You can be a bit general here: Bible = Deity, Jesus is the Christ, Gospel story, Creation, etc. (If you have a copy of Skills Evaluation, you may want to skim over that for ideas.)
If you feel Bible is the most important subject, keep it first. Our family feels math is the second most important, but I do not switch to math after Bible. I continue with our Weaver studies and do the history/geography or the science, etc. Math is something they can do on their own, like when they are done with breakfast and we haven’t started school yet, or while they wait for me to help them with a writing assignment, or while I’m working with someone else on something. Besides math, they have reading assignments to do on their own.
How much time do you have to teach them these things?
I’m not asking about time in a day, although that’s important, too. I’m asking about if you want to cover the whole Bible in one year, or if you want to cover the world in geography in one year. No? I don’t blame you! That’s a lot to teach! Depending on the ages of your children, you will have years to cover this stuff. And, with Weaver, you will go over the information you are trying to teach them more than once.
Use Weaver as your guide. If you feel it is important to teach them about genealogy, because it was/is important to God, then you need to stress that to your children. If they roll their eyes, you can either bow to their wishes and skim through it to make their lives easier, or you can assign them some extra work for disrespecting you as the teacher and for disrespecting God. What kind of extra work? How about making the timeline in color? Or making an individual timeline for each child? Or perhaps they can orally interview their grandparents and type up the answers? Based on their age, you will have to adapt the work, of course.
Your children will need to learn things that they are not thrilled about learning. Does anyone really enjoy changing a dirty diaper, or scraping dried food off plates? No, but it needs to be done. How about cleaning toilets? Okay, we won’t go there. 😉 There will be times in your children’s lives when they must do things they don’t like–certain school subjects are perfect for training them to “suck it up” and “bear with it” when times are tough. Another reason to learn what they don’t want to learn: everything is intertwined and will help them to do what God wants them to do as they grow. My daughter wants to be an artist. I use history to point out how various artists were affected by what was happening during their lives. The scenes they painted, the clothing on the people, the facial expressions, etc, are all affected by an artist’s surroundings and their culture.
Take your struggles to God. He knows you and the struggles you face. He will guide you, and bless you, if you seek Him. God placed you in that family, as the parent, for a reason. Your children are given to you for a reason. You must do the job God has assigned to you, whatever the job. Live out your obedience to God. You’ll be setting a great example for your children!