by Greta Eskridge, 2020 Convention Featured Speaker
We are homeschooling in strange times, aren’t we? All of a sudden, the method of education we love and believe in is being adopted by families around the entire world! I have watched homeschoolers fill the internet with words of advice for all those new to homeschooling. There are sample schedules and book lists, art projects and science experiments, and enough resources to keep any home school family busy for a whole year or more. It’s been beautiful to witness all this generosity. But there is one thing I’d add to the list of must-dos for any homeschooling parent, whether short term, novice, or veteran.
That would be to remember that while reading, writing, math, and science are all valuable parts of homeschooling, they are not the most important part. Our first priority as homeschool parents should be to pursue relationship with our children.
I know learning to read and memorizing multiplication facts are important. And I know you want your kids to understand American history and to be able to write a five-paragraph essay. But I also want to remind you that once those things happen, you’ll still have the whole rest of your life to be their parent. What will you do with that time? If you aren’t pursuing relationship with your kids now, it will be much harder to pursue it with them later, when they’re out of the house, pursuing their own life. So now is the time to build relationships. Yes now, right now, in the middle of every homeschool day. Now is the time to start thinking about how you will make those heart to heart connections with your kids. You need to plan for the future by creating space and time for relationship building now.
All of this reminds me of one of the dearest memories I have of my own days as a homeschooled kid. It has nothing to do with curriculum or textbooks. In fact, it has nothing to do with school at all. Rather, this memory is all about the relationship my mom and I had while I was growing up. She and I often started the day in her bed, with a cup of tea, reading the newspaper together. I read the comics and she read the rest. I know that sounds indulgent and maybe even lazy, but I have to tell you, the memories of those mornings we spent together are so very sweet and I’ll cherish them forever.
You see, homeschooling is about more than academics. It is about connecting with our children’s mind, body, heart, and soul. And those slow start mornings were a time for relationship building between my mom and I. We were making heart connections that last to this day. There’s a quote by the 18th-century British educator, Charlotte Mason that I think encapsulates this idea so well. She says, “Modern education has been plagued by utilitarianism for a long time, and both teachers and students have come to think that schools should teach only what will be useful in the pursuit of a career.”
I agree with Miss Mason. The education we offer our kids should be more than just prepping them for college and the job market. And when it isn’t, we are missing out on something so important. On those slow mornings that started in her bed, my mom taught me to value relationship and not just academics in homeschooling. This has shaped every aspect of my homeschooling journey with my own kids. I have purposefully chosen an education style that pursues relationship first. I’m 16 years in now, and I don’t regret a minute of it.
There are so many different ways for our children to spend their time. It seems like much of the world is urging us to enroll our kids in academic classes, both online and in person, to play sports and do all kinds of extracurricular activities. Yes, even homeschool kids are falling prey to this very busy lifestyle. But I notice that a lot of these things are pulling my kids away from me rather than toward me. I want more than anything to keep building relationship with my kids, both now and as they grow up. Building relationship with them matters even more to me than them being in all the “right” activities.
So we evaluate each and every class and activity before we say yes. Sometimes we chose slow mornings of bonding over books and tea, rather than jumping right into academics. And once a week, without fail, we venture out in nature to spend time connecting with one another in God’s creation. These are small ways I can pursue relationship with my kids, but I am trusting that the payoff in the years ahead will be great.
Hear more from Greta at CHEA’s 37th Annual Homeschool Convention where she will be joining us as one of our featured speakers, sharing her knowledge and experience from her many years as a homeschool student and now homeschool mom.
Greta Eskridge is a second-generation homeschooler. She loved her days as a student so much that she decided early on to teach her own kids at home. They love to fill their days with reading, making art, and being outside as much as possible.
Greta’s heart is to encourage her fellow mothers to be the best version of themselves as they dive deep into motherhood. Her first book is due out July of 2020.
Greta lives in sunny Southern California with her husband of 21 years and their 4 kids, aged 8-15.
She’d love to connect with you on her blog at www.gretaeskridge.com or on her Instagram feed. You’ll find her @maandpamodern.