by Todd Wilson, Keynote Speaker, 34th Annual CHEA Convention July 13-15, 2017
There are two statements that just beg the response, “Duh.” One is that “men and women are different” and the other is that “homeschooling is hard.” Every time I hear someone say either of these phrases, I just naturally feel the “Duh” response rise to my lips.
I mean, how can any married or sane person NOT notice the chasm of differences between men and women, and yet experts still say, “Studies show that men and women are different.”
It’s the same with homeschooling. I’ve traveled the country from Hawaii to Maine, from Washington to Florida, encouraging homeschooling parents, and the statement that still blows me away is the one spoken by mothers and fathers alike: “Homeschooling is hard,” they say. And I feel the same “Duh” response rise to my lips.
Does that surprise them? What did they expect? They act as though they’ve discovered this fact and are perplexed by it. So I respond. “It’s hard because it’s good and worthwhile. Good things are hard and hard things are good.”
The words trip easily off my tongue not just because I’ve written a book on the subject and because I’ve spoken on the topic dozens of times, but also because the statement is TRUE!
Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you’re tired, worn out, and at the end of your homeschooling rope. You started this homeschooling adventure thinking it would be so FUN sitting around on a sunny window seat reading books and giggling your way through each delightful day of homeschooling only to find yourself locked in mortal combat with the people you call your children. Every day feels like a battle, ending in defeat.
And then the realization that homeschooling is hard clonks you on the head in the same way that Newton discovered gravity.
Homeschooling is Hard
Here’s the deal, Mom. Homeschooling IS hard in the same way that parenting and marriage is hard. That’s because good things are hard. They are meaningful, rewarding, and eternal. Or, look at it this way: the hardness validates the goodness. The utter exhaustion and feeling like your barely hanging on is an indicator that you’re doing something worthwhile.
That may not warm your soul but consider this: one day the hard stuff will be transformed INTO the good stuff. Believe it or not, one day you’ll look back at these bone-tiring homeschool days as the good ol’ days. You won’t think about the arguments, the battles, or the feelings of despair.
It’s similar to the miracle of childbirth. It’s incredibly hard but you tend to warmly ponder the good parts afterwards. When you think back about homeschooling, you’ll remember sitting in your pj’s or sweats reading a book to the kids, the way they looked when they were sitting at the desk trying to learn cursive for the first time, or the smell of construction paper and pencil shavings. Believe me; you’ll remember the wonderful privilege of being with your kids every day. Don’t nod your head in disbelief. It’s TRUE!
Enjoy These Days
Time will validate me, but in the meantime, I want you to enjoy these days. . .even though it’s hard.
Here’s what worries me: many homeschooling parents never get to the good stuff because they quit when the going gets tough. It might be during the high school years when you hit a tricky subject or three days after you’ve started the new school year, but it will come. There will come a time when you think you can’t take it anymore…that it would be easier if you put the kids in school…ANY kind of school.
How do I know? Because good things are HARD!
So here’s what I suggest in light of this duh-truth:
1. Assess your method of homeschooling. Just because homeschooling is hard doesn’t mean it has to be as hard as you’re making it. Many have bought into the notion that we have to try to replicate what the institution calls ‘school’ in our homes. And it can’t be done.
There is no way that one mom can replicate what it takes a dozen different individuals to do. You can’t do art, science, gym, music, history, language arts, and all the extra-curricular activities that an entire staff gets paid to do, so quit trying. It’s a recipe for failure.
Look for a better way. Find a way that fits you and your children. Get rid of the things and subjects that make you or your children cry. Just do it!! If you don’t like labs, don’t do labs. If you don’t like art, don’t do art. If you like reading, worksheets, or watching videos…then do whatever you like to do… and don’t feel guilty.
2. Don’t give up. That’s really the secret to homeschooling through the hard times. Just keep going. When the temptation comes to jump ship, stay in the boat. When you feel like tossing in the towel, get back in the ring. When you feel like you’ve been bucked off, get back on that horse. Don’t stop.
Cling to This Promise
Cling to this promise written by Paul to the Galatian Church. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (and stop).” (Galatians 6:9)
And again to the Thessalonians, “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13)
Why would Paul have to give those instructions to two different groups of Christians? Because people grow weary in doing good and are tempted to stop. But the promise is there is a reward after you get through the hard stuff. So don’t give up! Don’t quit! Keep homeschooling through the hard times.
So don’t be surprised that homeschooling is hard. Embrace the hardness knowing that it validates that what you are doing is worthwhile and that one day it will be transformed into the good stuff. And of course, read my new book, “Family is Hard – Deal with it.”
You can do it…don’t stop!
Todd Wilson is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and down to earth realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. As founder of Familyman Ministries, his passion and mission are to remind dads and moms of what’s most important through a weekly e-mail for dads, seminars, and books that encourage parents. Todd, and his wife Debbie, homeschool six of their eight children (two have graduated) in northern Indiana and travel America in the Familyman Mobile. Todd is the author of popular homeschool cartoons and many books. You can read more at www.familymanweb.com.
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