As I began to trust the idea that my children could learn in many situations, not just with bookwork, I was challenged with the idea that our homeschooling lifestyle gave me freedom but there was also responsibilities. “With freedom comes much responsibility”.
Homeschooling lifestyle Gives us Freedoms
As I let the natural things in our family life be a part of our homeschool I found an incredible freedom. I stopped being tied down to a curriculum, I created loose routines, and we made time to get involved in a variety of activities both family based and in the community. I saw my kids being able to work on their weaknesses but also spend a lot of time developing their strengths.
Even academically we had a sense of freedom as we were able to study at each child’s individual pace – making time for them to really learn what they needed to learn before moving on. We made the most of their interests and talents.
We were able to pause when they needed heart lessons – giving them time to really grow moral and spiritual strength.
But…God has given our children to us, not just so that we have a good time together as they grow up, not just so that our children have a happy childhood and know what they are good at doing. No, God gave us these children so that they could be grown up in the ways of the Lord. That is, that they learn to know God and his ways.
It was this sense of ‘discipleship’ that made me very aware of the responsibility of parenting – and since we were homeschooling, the responsibility of not letting homeschooling distract us from what was important.
Homeschooling has Responsibilities
Though I talk about having a homeschooling lifestyle – reality is our lifestyle became a part of our homeschooling. Education was only a part of our lifestyle – certainly not the whole picture. It is an important distinction to make. These are the responsibilities of parenting – and we can use the choice to stay home and educate our kids to our benefit.
We need to be responsible with our Relationships –
God places a high priority on relationships. He himself wants a relationship with us. He knows that just laying down the law and making people do what is right does not produce healthy fruit. Instead getting to know Him, getting to know each other is what will bring life. It is ironic that when we walk away from the structure of institutionalised education that we need to be intentional about relationships. You could think that it would be a natural given. But it is not – we fill our days with projects, with good things, but we can easily leave relationships behind.
Our first relationship priority is God – do we make time where we are talking and listening to Him? Do we make time in our day where we teach our children to listen and talk to Him?
Our next set of relationships we need to care for is our family: our spouse and our children. Are we really connecting or do we just spend time together? Do we really know what is on their heart? Do we know what is causing stress or joy?
And thirdly, we need to foster the relationships with the people in our life – these maybe our extended family, our church family, our homeschool co-op or craft group, it may be the stranger we bump into down the street.
Are you so busy educating your children you forget that having others in your life is a part of the process – part of the process of discipling our children.
We need to be responsible with our Resources –
The key resources God has given me is time, money, possessions, and energy. When these things are spent – they are spent – so I need to use them wisely. I need to use them on the things that God hold’s as precious and not get enticed by the marketing ploys of the world. How am I using my time to glorify God? My money, my energies? Are they spent on selfish pursuits? Is my heart set on approval from man instead God?
As a homeschool mum I can justify the choices I make in how I ‘spend’ these resources because I’m doing good things, I’m involved in good projects – all for the benefit of my kids education. But we have to be responsible with MY OWN resources: are the things I do in our homeschool depleting my time, money, energy – so that I can’t do well in other areas of my life. Not only are we teaching and training the whole child as a parent, but we are a whole person as a parent. We have to keep these things in balance and not let homeschooling rob us of the joy of being a parent.
We need to be responsible with our Talents –
God has given you talents, and they don’t necessarily have to lay dormant while you are a mother. How your talents are expressed may well need to look different for a season (the long season of motherhood) but we need to know that God gave us those talents for a reason. I heard of a mother who gave up singing at church because it made family worship hard, it distracted her from her family on Sundays. She prayed and asked God about her talents. She came to see that she could teach her children to sing and worship that way – which is what she did, and now her whole family encourages the Christian church with their music. God didn’t ask her to lay her talents aside, but rather He used her talent in the situation she was in (motherhood). Can I encourage you to ask God how to use your talent in this season of your life.
The Responsibility of Training the Whole Child
As parents we need to be responsible with our children’s whole being :
Physical– are you helping your child to be healthy in their body? Are you encouraging them in exercise and diet?
Emotional– we are emotional beings, and we need to teach our children to be comfortable with their emotions. Our children need to learn to control their emotions as well as communicate through their emotions.
Intellectual – are we teaching our children to think, to use their brain. This includes things like reading, writing, and math but it doesn’t end there. There is a place for traditional learning, and in our pursuit of a lifestyle of learning we cannot afford to throw the baby out with the bathwater! We need to be encouraging our children to grow mentally.
Spiritual – This should have come first as it is obviously our priority but maybe listing it last will keep it in your mind. What are you doing in your family that encourages your children to get to know Jesus? To be a follower of Jesus?
Balancing Freedom and Responsibility
We have found two words that have helped us balance all the demands on our time, emotions and energy: To be intentional and directive.
Our homeschooling lifestyle doesn’t just happen, activities and projects don’t just evolve. We are purposeful with the things we encourage our kids to do, we are directive when needed, and we facilitate at other times: we need to be intentional homeschoolers.
Freedom comes as we walk away from institutional learning but responsibility is knowing what our children need to learn and how they will best learn it. Responsibility is about keeping our lifestyle in balance with all our goals, not letting one aspect of our life dictate and overshadow everything else.
We cannot afford to just do one day after the next – we can cope with a short season of that, but ultimately we need to know where we are going and how we are going to get there. Don’t let your children’s childhood disappear, don’t let opportunities to teach their heart slip away, don’t let relationship building memories get lost in the day to day. With the freedom that your lifestyle brings you – be responsible!
Over to you: How do you see this issue of freedom and responsibility playing out in your homeschool?
How to Write a Routine that Strengthens your Family: When you write a routine for your family don’t choose random activities, choose activities that help your children grow.