Confidence is defined as the ability to be bold, to have faith, to act with assurance. Most who begin the journey into homeschooling cannot be described as confident. Although it may seem surprising, many people who have homeschooled for several years quietly express the same lack of confidence. Admitting you lack confidence may be an unpopular thing to do, but making such an admission might provide the first step in gaining the confidence to teach your children at home.
A common perception is that confidence comes from ability or knowledge. As a teacher by training and work experience, I have observed that the assumption is often made that persons such as myself move effortlessly from one academic triumph to another. Though some people might think this revelation should be kept under wraps, I have to say that those perceptions are not true. When my children look at me blankly after I have introduced, or even worse, completed activities, I often have the same sense of failure that any first timer might have. Many discoveries might be made during a carefully guided study, but often the lasting lessons and the greatest revelations are unplanned. There is much value in what I’ve read, seen or experienced, but I have to say the more I know, the more I see and appreciate God’s ownership of my children’s homeschooling experience.
Lasting confidence in homeschooling comes as a result of recognizing our limitations and seeing God’s grace. Confidence that comes from my own abilities or the results I see in my children is rather fickle – it depends on variables that are beyond my control. My child’s personality, abilities, even physical makeup will determine a great deal of his apparent success or failure. Methods that produce angelic results in friends’ or neighbors’ children may fail miserably with mine. I have encountered many people who feel they are supposed to homeschool, but have truly lost heart because of these kinds of experiences.
I am not advocating the abandonment of schedules, order or discipline. I believe in putting in the work, but we shouldn’t look at homeschooling as a recipe – you put in the perfect ingredients in just the right order and out comes a perfect product, as promised. If you have grown discouraged by weaknesses you see in yourself or in your children, or if you have been too intimidated to try something new because it’s not “the way it’s done,” let me encourage you; the outcome has never been solely dependent on you. If you feel that you are called to homeschool, or in less spiritual language, you believe it is what you are supposed to do for your child, as a Christian you have greater confidence than even superior testing results can provide:
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. I Thessalonians 5:24, NASB
A woman I know trusted that “calling or sense of what the Lord wanted her to do” and began homeschooling when the odds seemed to be against her. Having several small children, limited finances and a child designated as having several special education problems, she responded in faith by taking her child out of public school. She sought counsel and help with the academic considerations and then put her hand to the plow. She told me of timely encouragement from the Lord and other sustaining graces. The results she described to me at the end of the year were amazing, and the very words she spoke pointed to God’s faithfulness to her and her family. Success in homeschooling is not limited to certain test results, it is the restoration of a discouraged spirit, the acceptance of a limitation, or the realization of a particular gift. Homeschooling successes come in the form of renewed or strengthened love between parent and child or brothers and sisters. It may be as simple as the ability to obey a parental request cheerfully, but one thing is sure – it will never be the same for every homeschooling family.
My faith was built by my friend’s simple testimony. I know that God can do similar miracles for us and through us if we will trust Him enough to do what we hear Him saying and let Him be the author of the outcome.
Debbie Strayer was the co-founder of Homeschooling Today magazine. She became a part of the homeschooling movement in 1988 when she and husband Greg began their journey as homeschoolers. Prior to that time, Debbie received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in education.
Debbie always felt that her most important accomplishments were that she was the wife of Greg Strayer for 35 years, the mother of homeschool graduates Nate and Ashley and a homeschooling parent for 16 years.
Here are a few of her accomplishments:
- Co-founder and an Executive Editor of Homeschooling Today (TM) Magazine
- Author, Gaining Confidence to Teach
- Editor, The Homeschool Answer Book by Dr. Ruth Beechick
- A co-author of the Learning Language Arts through Literature series
- Co-author, Trail Guide to Learning, published by Geography Matters