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Don’t Run from the Mirror — Why You Need to Teach!

Why you need to teach

YOU WILL BE FACED WITH A CRITICAL CHOICE

Is everything is going well in your homeschool now? Just wait. If your experience is anything like many of us, the day will come when you’ll encounter difficulty and discouragement. When you do, you’ll be faced with a critical choice: run … or overcome.

Why you need to teach

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I had never even heard of homeschooling until my husband suggested we teach our firstborn five-year-old at home.

I’m a researcher by nature, so when he mentioned it, I started investigating. I quickly recognized that he was on to something significant. Then, because both Scripture and experience has taught me to believe that God is active in our lives and cares even more about our growth and character than we do, when I “just happened” to be invited on a homeschool field trip to a local farm and met Beth, I was delighted but not surprised.

While my sons held bunnies, chased chickens, and mooed at cattle, I had a conversation with Beth that showed me she was a deep thinker who passionately loves Jesus. Later, as I reflected upon her words and the character qualities displayed by her children, I decided to ask her to be my homeschool mentor.

So began a relationship that has since blossomed into a dear friendship. Our hearts are knit together. Knit, because for Beth to effectively counsel me, I had to be transparent about what went on in our homeschool. At times, that was really painful.

WELCOME TO HOME SCHOOLING

Once, with great embarrassment, I confessed how I had washed our breakfast dishes, and then, instead of teaching my son how to write his letters and numbers, I folded laundry…and then I decided to de-clutter our workspace … and then the telephone rang … and while I was still on the phone my mom stopped by….

Suddenly, it was time to cook dinner and bathe the kids and another day had ended. Of course, this could happen to anyone on occasion, but a similar series of events had happened throughout the entire week.

I felt like a failure. I feared for my son’s future. I timidly asked Beth for honest feedback. After a brief silence, she
said in a gentle voice, “Welcome to homeschooling.”

What a grace-filled and liberating response! (I love that woman.)

THE MIRROR

Beth held rigorous standards for her students’ academic achievements. In fact, her children have since graduated
with honors from top universities. However, because she had already traveled the path ahead of me, she understood
where I was in my journey: at a crucial crossroads, a tender place of discovery. She knew I was taking my first look in the mirror.

When I saw my lack of focus and discipline starkly displayed—I wanted to turn and run. I have learned that my experience was not unique.

If you fear that your shortcomings disqualify you from teaching your children, I have good news! Those
shortcoming are precisely why you need to teach. In Teaching the Trivium, homeschool pioneers Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn make a profound statement that continues to challenge and encourage me. They explained that:

Although our children need to be taught by us for their sake, we need to teach our children for our sake.

When we assume the role of our children’s teacher, we get an education.

The significant things we learn as we endeavor to teach our children encompass many areas, but here I will focus on daily habits. Our homeschools become mirrors that expose our weaknesses and provide the opportunity to learn lessons about ourselves we could otherwise evade.

Although homeschooling revealed many unflattering issues about me that I might have preferred to ignore, those issues were real, and, unaddressed, they could cause real (and undesirable) consequences. It soon became apparent to me that, what our family did on a daily basis would become what my children perceived to be “normal.” What a sobering realization! I do not want my bad habits to become life-long struggles for my sons.

HABITS ARE OVERCOME BY HABITS

Canada homeschool mom, blogger, and author of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp, drew my attention to an
insightful quote from the classical scholar Erasmus:

Habits are overcome by habits

I believe that is true, but new habits take time to establish, and failure is frequently part of our growth process.
Consequently, when I seek to establish new habits, I remember Lamentations 3:22-23 (KJV):

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.

Thankfully, despite the prior day’s failures, each morning brings the opportunity to begin anew.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Without the unconditional love and forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ alone, there are some unpleasant
truths about myself I’m not sure I’d be willing to face. But His love gives me courage to look into the mirror.
Persistent prayer provides the power to overcome what I see.

Do you trust His tender love and forgiveness? Are you ready to take an honest look? Grab a paper and pencil and find a quiet place where you can prayerfully answer these questions:

  1. What three habits have the potential to undermine your homeschool?
  2. What three new habits can take their place?
  3. With whom do you feel safe to discuss your struggles?

When we begin to talk openly in safe relationships about our struggles, we often discover that others wrestle with the very same things. Share your plan to replace bad habits with new habits and invite that safe person to hold you accountable.

PRAYER, PATIENCE, AND PERSISTENCE

Sometimes grace takes the form of a gentle word spoken at a critical moment by a dear friend.

My first look into the mirror made me want to run. But with prayer and the support of a few safe companions, I began to wrestle with the weaknesses that mirror revealed. Now, I can honestly say that, though the reflection is far from perfect, a transformation is underway. New habits are being established. He has begun that good work that in Philippians 1:6 He promises to complete.

We are entrusted with the education of our precious children for such a short season, but our impact upon them can last a lifetime. Let’s face the truth the mirror reveals with prayer, patience, and persistence so that, one day, when we will look into the mirror, we’ll be amazed by the person who gazes back!


This article was originally published in the Annual Print Edition of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Copyright 2014, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC

4 thoughts on “Don’t Run from the Mirror — Why You Need to Teach!

  1. Thanks, I needed this! We have had a de-railing week due to farm pressures.

    1. You are most welcome, Judes. Praying that your farm pressures will be transformed into an unexpected blessing and that your studies will be enriched!

  2. You are so right to point out that homeschool parents need to learn as they teach their children. It was not clear what age your child was when you did housework, etc. all day and then felt guilty. Are you aware that the Bluedorns don’t recommend formal teaching before age 10? : ) The Bluedorns are right! We don’t need to go on a guilt trip for not copying the schools. Keep on encouraging parents!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Carolyn. We did a lot of reading and field trips and art and other forms of exploration in those early days…. They passed by so quickly. Savor them!

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