In our home growing up, homeschooling was a team effort. It had to be. My mom used to say to homeschool parents, “you can’t just put on the homeschool show everyday.” You need teammates, fellow learners who are on board with the fact that it takes all of you to homeschool.
There were days when she would wake up with a migraine and need our participation to keep things going. We would try to be quiet and do whatever school work we could without her help. In a family where the kids don’t feel a sense of responsibility as teammates, if mom is unable to teach, they would see it as a time to bail and play video games.
Homeschooling is more than just being in charge of your child’s learning. It’s a choice, as a family, to learn at home and understand what this means and what it will require from each family member. Mom was at the helm, but by including us as teammates, we got to have input about what we were learning, what was going well, what could be improved upon, and so on. We were involved in the process, and that gave us a voice and vested interest in this choice to homeschool.
The Homeschool Team Coach
My mom was our leader, showing us how one can lead in a way that listens to input and gives value to others. Good authority makes you feel valued and heard, and it sends the message that you have an important role to play. In contrast, authority that makes you feel only as valuable as what you produce, or that you have no choices except the ones handed to you, is a slippery slope for homeschooling parents.
Children can be ordered to complete the work set before them. They can be made to finish a certain amount of schooling by a certain time. But here’s my question, what if this could be done in a state of cooperation and mutual understanding of the tasks at hand?
For instance, what if one child works best in the morning and another works best in the afternoon? Would you force the child who works better later in the day to complete his schooling in the morning just because of a preconceived idea about when school should be done? Or because it is more fitting to your preferences? Since you are schooling at home, don’t forget you can make changes to the program you’re using or your schedule in which you cater to the personalities and needs of your children.
Coaching with a More Gentle Approach
There are seasons in life when we must fit ourselves to the wills of others. We get a job, take a class, make a commitment to something or someone, and these are all good things. But, hear me out, at home can we center learning around what our children need? The real world will break in soon enough and require them to fit in to whatever standard is in front of them. Whether that be waking up early every morning, or being in a job where the boss was not taught how to lead well and tends to micromanage and demean. Let’s meet those challenges when they come instead of forcing an eight year old to fall in line every morning so she’s prepared for the reality of the way the world works.
Here’s where this thought ties in to a bigger one, what if we led our children into rest? We could make it our main goal that before our babies leave the nest, they’re at rest with who they are and the plans their Creator has for them. If that is our goal, we first have to find rest in what God created, that He made our children perfectly, nothing lacking. You know what helps in passing that on? Catering to our children’s specific needs. We show them we care, we help them see they can be successful by using creative solutions if need be, and we can be relied on to provide understanding. Let’s move away from the world’s perception of success and how it’s achieved. My mom wrote this several years ago, and I think it speaks so well to this point:
When we began homeschooling, we had found, I hoped, a safe haven from undue pressure to excel academically. My children loved to learn and delighted in our time together homeschooling, so we were spared from the pressures of peers and teachers alike to do more than was appropriate for them at the time and the idea that the only reward for learning was a grade or a sticker. It was wonderful to feel safe from the schoolish environment that I had left behind when I came home from teaching in schools to teach my children. Now, as we travel the country to attend homeschool conventions, we find parent after parent who feels overwhelmed and unsuccessful. Why? Because they can’t keep up the pace of achievement they feel is expected of them or their children. They feel inadequate and so do their children. To bridge the gap, they turn more and more of their schooling over to others who can do it better than I can.Debbie Strayer
Don’t let your direction come from a sense of competition or this results-driven society. In the last issue I shared my math story. I also mentioned that I was only ever asked by my parents if I did my best. If the answer was yes, that was it. That taught me to rest with my best. I learned to be at peace with who God created me to be and my best effort being my standard instead of someone else’s best.
Coaching Your Children To Follow God's Call on Their Lives (Not to be Perfect!)
I’m a speaker in the homeschool arena, which was not an easy beginning for this shy, introverted girl. But something had been ingrained in me from a young age. I have a calling. I have something to offer. Though I have a learning disability and cannot always speak with perfect fluency or with the most professionalism, I know who I am, and I’m okay with it. Because here’s what’s more important than me being impressive, encouraging someone. Lifting them up so they can see what matters the most in this whole crazy thing called homeschooling. That’s why I do this. The point is, I was raised to follow God’s call on my life and not be afraid of imperfection. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about allowing Him to work with us and empower us to do what He’s asking.
This post has been adapted from the article The Homeschool Team published in the Fall 2020 issue of Homeschooling Today
Ashley Wiggers speaks at homeschool seminars, serves as Public Relations Director for GeoMatters and is the author of the Profiles from History series. She also joins Homeschooling Today magazine as co-executive editor and writes the column, Lessons My Mother Taught Me.
Ashley grew up in the early days of the homeschooling movement. She was was taught by her parents, Greg and Debbie Strayer, who are authors of numerous homeschooling materials and were part of the founding group of Homeschooling Today magazine back in 1992. As a homeschool graduate, Ashley has a deep appreciation for the opportunity to homeschool and the need for encouragement and support of homeschooling families. Ashley and her husband make their home in Somerset, KY, carrying on the philosophies and ideals that their parents and in-laws instilled in them, with their own children.