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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Untying Homeschool Burdens

As an author of homeschool books, I want so much to interact with and bless homeschool moms. It is my heart’s cry to encourage, build up, and say, "YOU CAN DO THIS!" to every mom I encounter with those weary and worried filled eyes. I seek to untie the heavy burdens they have strung upon their backs. Burdens that weigh them down with guilt, shame, and hopelessness. Those rampant lies that say they are inadequate, driving them to do this and that and use every bit of curriculum they bought at the last convention—else they are failures.

I can’t count how often I have heard the question, “Am I doing enough?” seep into conversations, emails, message boards, and e-loops. How earnestly I want to reassure them they are not only doing enough; they are doing more than they need to do.

The question I want to ask is this: Can you remember anything you learned before sixth grade? If so, what was the learning environment like? Was it a rigid school setting? Did it include reading passages or filling out worksheets? Was it under the supervision of a hurried, harried taskmaster? Or was it in an environment where your teacher (or parent, grandparent, or neighbor) showed enthusiasm for the subject and a genuine interest in you? Oh! How I wish we could grasp the fact that it isn’t the curriculum that does it. It isn’t the method of homeschooling: classical, Charlotte Mason, delight directed, whatever. It is the relationship: the peaceful, excited, loving environment that pulls our children in and breathes life into the, sometimes sterile sounding, word “education.”

Studies show that, across the board, children in a school setting excel above and beyond their peers if they have parental involvement in their education. What are we so worried about? Why are we feeling so guilty and inadequate? Why are we beating ourselves up? Why are we listening to philosophies that only add to our feelings of inadequacy?

I think you know the truth. We all do. As I often tell my daughter: I don’t care a thing about purses. But if I spent too much time around people who did, if they talked about which purse they were carrying and showed everyone the great purse they just bought, then discussed the merits and benefits of this particular purse, each person expanding on all the seemingly important details of their purse, over time, I would be sucked in and start caring about purses. I would start noticing purses, then noticing my own inadequate and rundown purse. I would feel insecure because I needed a better purse. My purse isn’t right anymore. I would fall into a slippery pit of caring about what kind of purse I carried and always thinking that maybe my purse wasn’t measuring up. 

Strange how easy it is to miss the big picture. So untie those burdens and free yourself. You are doing enough and ARE enough to fulfill the call to homeschool well. 


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