Every year I have an opportunity to address the parents of our school with a talk about parenting and co-teaching in our University-model school. Burdened to dispel any misconceptions that might hinder a parent from being the most effective co-teaching parent in the home, I formed my talk around 3 possible misconceptions and 3 qualities that will help a parent thrive in the homeschooling environment. This was not a how-to session as much as an indicative-informing-the-imperative overview. I share parts of it here, as I trust that you will be encouraged as a parent or a homeschooler...and as the primary influence in your child's life.
What the "Ideal" Homeschooling parent IS...
1. The "ideal" homeschooling parent is purposed with conviction and mission.
There is no doubt about it, you will experience discouragement, weariness, and sometimes an outright second-guessing of your decision to educate your child. It has been said: "Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." There will indeed be times this year when you may feel that it is IMPOSSIBLE to be your child's teacher.
May I encourage you with something practical that our family does? Troy and I really believe in Mission Statements. To write one as a family is to bring your family's purpose into sharp focus, a focus that can be lost in the midst of discouragement and challenges. A written mission statement based on what is True and Worthy can be a powerful tool for re-alignment when our hearts deceive us and we are tempted to give up. It helps us remember WHY we are doing what we're doing, and WHAT are priorities really are.
(Be sure to come back on Saturday to hear more about Family Mission Statements, and to read our own family's version!)
2. The "ideal" homeschooling parent is a lead worshiper.
It was the Classical teacher's chief aim to embody the truths he was teaching his pupil. If our desire as parents is to see our children become worshipers of Christ, we must be their example of what it is to walk with our Savior.
What would your children say is characteristic of a life in Christ? Would they say it is marked with joy? Do they observe that it is one of trust in the midst of trials? Would they describe it as the ONLY means of LIFE? Most importantly, would they recognize that sorrow over sin is comforted only in the sufficiency of Christ's blood?
Our kids will learn many many facts, subjects, and skills this school year, but will they learn about their deep need for Christ and His redeeming love through your example? Worship and love for Christ and his Word is not simply taught; it's CAUGHT as well. In the same way I encourage myself, I pray that we as mothers and fathers will be the example of life-long learning in the gloriousness of Christ. That our worship of Him would do what no textbook could ever accomplish.
3. The "ideal" homeschooling parent is diligent to train, with or without immediate results.
While it may seem obvious, it must be said: Parenting IS our job. Breaking up fights, correcting, disciplining, teaching them to clean their rooms, and cleaning up messes are NOT inconvenient tasks simply because your kids are interrupting your agenda. THEY ARE THE AGENDA. Not in a our-kids-are-at-the-center-of-everything kind of way, but in that the goal is not to simply get through with parenting as quickly as possible so that, in their perfection, they will require no work from you at all.
Results, in any worthy endeavor, are rarely immediate. In parenting, it is truly designed that way! God gave you children as infants that grow up to become young adults in your home because it takes that long to train them. The sooner we shift our mindset in this area, the more free we will be to embrace our roles as moms and dads.
The goal of teaching your child at home, is not necessarily to "arrive" at some point of EASE and EFFORTLESSNESS in schooling. Hear me for what I mean: Yes, it will get more manageable as your routine firms up. Yes, it will get easier as your children learn to obey your authority as teacher.........But that CAN'T be our focus as co-teachers. It IS OUR JOB to teach and train them repeatedly, even when it feels unrewarded, even when we are tempted to think there are other things more worthy of our time.
I will simply point out the obvious answer to the question: WHO IS THE IDEAL HOMESCHOOLING PARENT?
The answer, in my opinion is this:
I hope these excerpts from my talk to the parents of our school has served to encourage you in whatever role you are currently playing in training and teaching your child.
"God's callings are his enablings." -Charles Spurgeon
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