You can take off your teacher’s hat

by Rebecca Kocsis

Being a homeschool parent is a tall order. Any parent wears many hats: chauffeur, chef, cleaner, counselor, financial manager, and so on. Then add full-time educator to the list. Yes, it’s a tall order. 

As the homeschool parent of a large family, I was asked many times how I got it all done. Short answer? I didn’t. That was on purpose. I knew something would need to be neglected each day. (Never my children, in case you’re wondering.) It was humanly impossible for me to get everything done every day. If I was on top of all of the lessons, then the house went wanting. If we had carefully planned, elaborate meals one week, the laundry would have been piling up. If the house was spic and span, the lessons were simplified. Since I knew that I would be setting something on the back burner that week, there was no need to feel guilty.

One thing that I found helpful? There was a time everyday that I took off my teacher hat. I would let the children know when “the teacher” was done for the day. Yes, homeschooling is a lifestyle. I’m not saying that I no longer took advantage of teachable moments. But there was a time everyday when I would no longer help with formal lessons. That was usually when I put on my apron to cook dinner.

After a busy school day, I often looked forward to the change of pace that came with cooking dinner. You would very often find me listening to worship music or a Bible study while in the kitchen. It was my time to decompress, to think about something besides schoolwork. The last thing I wanted to do right then was another Algebra problem!

For some reason, people mistakenly think that the homeschooling lifestyle is one where all of your days and hours must be spent focusing on your children, keeping them busy and entertained. That is simply not so. One of the greatest lessons we can teach our children is that the world does not revolve around them. Woe is the child who does not learn to love God and serve one another. If not, you may raise a selfish, self-centered adult. 

I was available for my children for great swaths of time every day. I read to them, provided instruction, answered questions, and helped problem-solve. As the children got older, they spent more time working independently. They had more liberty to work at their own pace and choose how or when they wanted to do their lessons. 

Sometimes they did not choose wisely. One might fritter the afternoon away and then realize there was a test the next morning and needed help. However, that realization would often happen when I was cooking dinner. It could easily have been while in the middle of an important conversation with my spouse, or heading out the door for an appointment. If they didn’t take advantage of the time when I was available, the kids would have to wait until the next day. 

You’ve heard the saying, “A failure to plan ahead on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” We learned not to drop everything to help with unfinished school work because someone wasted their time. Yes, it fostered more than one tense moment and more than a few tears—not just on the child’s part. However, these were the natural consequences of making poor use of time. Learning from consequences while young provides invaluable “growing up“ lessons for the future adult. 

If your first inclination is to postpone the deadline, you might reconsider that. The world, as a general rule, doesn’t work that way. If you are unprepared for a test in college, you don’t get to reschedule. If you miss an important deadline at work, the same is often true. Yes, there will be extenuating circumstances where grace should be applied. However, that should be the exception; not the rule.

So do homeschool parents need to be on call 24 hours a day? No way! You are allowed to take off your teacher hat and put on one of your many others; even if it is just a chef’s hat with time to decompress. No guilt added! 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)