By Israel Wayne
Has your decision to homeschool your children ever left you feeling tired, overwhelmed or stressed out? As a student who was homeschooled (my family began homeschooling in 1978), I have learned a few things and over the years about how to avoid burnout in your homeschool.
One of the most common reasons for weariness and frustration among homeschooling parents is the weight of self-inflicted deadlines and standards. It is good, of course, to have goals in mind, but we must always ask ourselves: “Am I seeking to do the Lord’s will, or am I merely pursuing my own agenda?”
As Christian families, we need to view homeschooling not as a glorious end, in and of itself, but rather as a means to an end. The main goal is to raise children who love the Lord, and are committed to following Christ. It is not to produce robots that can recite random facts and data at the drop of a hat.
What a child knows is really insignificant compared to what he or she believes. We must move beyond facts to convictions. It is vital that our children know:
- What they believe.
- Why their beliefs are true.
- How to articulate their beliefs.
- How to live their beliefs consistently.
Getting the right answers on a test is meaningless unless a child knows how to apply those truths to everyday life. Non-applicable knowledge is worthless. As parents, we want our children to excel academically, and homeschoolers usually do. Our main motivation for homeschooling, however, should not be academic prowess. Instead, we should “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these (including academic) things will be added to us.” (Matt. 6:33)
We should always stay focused on our long-term goals, but we must consistently follow the leading of the Spirit. Why are we homeschooling? Our main objective should be to fulfill our God-given obligation to “train up our children in the way they should go.” (Prov. 22:6) Psalm 78, Deuteronomy 6 and 11 and many other passages stress the importance of teaching God’s laws to our children.
What is the purpose of an education? God’s primary reasons for commanding you to teach your own children are to:
1) Enable God to purify you (the parent), as you allow the fire and pressure of the homeschool setting to make you into pure gold.
2) To help your children know and love Him, and become prepared to serve Him.
God desires for us to have close family relationships, and He uses the process of family discipleship to develop Godly character in both the children and the parents. God has established and designed parents to be the primary influences in shaping their children’s values. Parents can’t expect to receive a Godly harvest unless they labor during the planting.
We must learn to view home education as a lifestyle decision, and not merely an academic alternative. Use every available moment to teach eternal principles. Developing a Biblical worldview in children is not something that happens by accident. It is taught by formal instruction and caught by the Godly example of the parents.
By keeping in mind that we are homeschooling because we want to raise children who love Jesus, we won’t be so frustrated if our child doesn’t understand Phonics or Chemistry. I’ve seen some mothers become so frustrated by their inability to communicate math facts that they scream at their children and throw books! In trying to teach academics, are we achieving our ultimate goal of developing Godly character? Nothing is so important that it overrides our relationships with God and each other.
It is also easy to get caught up in the busyness of activities, running our children here and there, and over-committing ourselves into panic. Are all the programs we are involved in bringing us closer to God and each other, or are they mostly wearing us out? We may need to recalibrate our compass. What does God expect of us?
“He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you. To do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ec. 12:13)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
If we focus on teaching eternal principles, and developing Christ-like character in our children, we will have academic success as a natural result of our obedience to God. We should not merely teach our children what to believe, but show them why our beliefs are true. They should be able to determine, from the principles in Scripture, what is good and what is evil. They should recognize absolute truths and be able to reason from a Biblical worldview.
By keeping obedience to God as our primary reason for homeschooling, we will have the flexibility to change our educational approaches, relax in the face of deadlines, and put family relationships above SAT scores. We can have a joyful, peaceful, loving family and still achieve an academic standard superior to the world; but we must keep Christ as the focus and avoid humanistic expectations.
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker. He and his wife Brook are the parents of eleven children and the directors of Family Renewal, LLC. Israel is the author of the books, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, and Education: Does God Have an Opinion? www.FamilyRenewal.org