This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.
This fall, we are entering our fifth year of homeschooling. Our third child will start kindergarten, so we will officially have more children in school than not. Over the last few years, I have learned many things about my children’s learning styles, temperaments, and intellect. However, in the same way, I have learned a great amount about who I am and how God created me.
As a mom who teaches my children at home, I have come to understand that it is vital for me to know who I am and be content in who God created me to be. If you are familiar with “The Four Temperaments,” I am a sanguine. As such, I like to make the home fun. I can handle any disaster with humor and a good dance session. However, I struggle with hyper-organization. Oftentimes, my children have an easier time of staying on schedule than I do. Embracing these observations in myself and diligently not comparing myself to others of different personalities has given me the freedom to run my house in a way that works for us and accomplishes God’s purposes at the same time.
These are a few tips that I have begun to use that make homeschooling work for us.
- We have a rhythm, not a schedule. As I mentioned before, firm day-to-day schedules overwhelm me. Therefore, my family functions on a rhythm. We all get up at the same time, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then start school. My benchmark for this is 9:00 a.m. It is my goal to transition from household duties into our school day by this time. Once our school day gets started, each of my kids has a different order in which to do their work. This allows me to work with each of the children one-on-one at various times of the morning. Again, the most important concept to me is not that we stay within the exact time frame, but that the children know, once they finish a certain task, it is time for the next. At 10:30, we all take a break. They play outside while I usually switch the laundry from washer to dryer or something exciting like that. I have found that I do better when I can see tangible accomplishments throughout the day. So in the midst of working on reading with my first grader (a more long-term task), I feel accomplished because I completed a load of laundry. After break, we come back together for more schooling. We break again at lunch, and then the older children finish whatever schoolwork they haven’t already completed. They also practice their musical instruments or play sports. Therefore, a specific time might look different each day, but there is a rhythm that stays the same.
- Everyone has time alone and time in a group every day. Just like me, my kids all have different temperaments. For my introverts, they need to work with others in the room. However, they also need time alone to refocus and recharge. For my extroverts, they need to understand the benefit of quiet and alone time as well as enjoy the fun of everyone being together. My youngest, at age 2, is already a definite extrovert. It is hard for her to be by herself. However, last year, I carved out 30 minutes on every homeschool day for her to practice playing by herself. She did not like it, but it benefited everyone. Even I take a time out after lunch to have my quiet and Bible study time. I put my little ones down to nap, my older children begin their school work again, and I grab a cup of coffee, and sit down with God.
- It takes all kinds to make the world go around. Some of my kids excel at academics, some don’t. Some work well in groups, some don’t. Some thrive on schedule and organization; some (like me) are more creative and relaxed. After four years of homeschooling, this idea has become paramount: We are different, but we are good for each other. Oftentimes I wish I was more detailed-oriented or naturally organized. But God reminds me that He created me for a purpose. I can encourage my daughter who is very task oriented to notice people more and consider their feelings. However, she is good for me and helps me stay on task and inspires me to work on ways to improve my organization skills. This training in the home is very applicable in the world. In the church or in the workplace, we will encounter different personality types. In each situation, we can appreciate each of our strengths and learn from each other to improve on our weaknesses.
Maybe you can identify with some of the lessons I have learned in the last four years. Have you been trying to be someone you are not in your homeschooling? Have you accepted your kids for who they are, complete with the personalities God gave them? After these first years of homeschooling, there are still areas where I want to improve, but the lessons God has taught me about myself have been priceless.