Avoiding Burnout in Homeschooling
- Friday, June 24, 2005
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:
- Enable God to purify you (the parent), as you allow the fire and pressure of the homeschool setting to make you into pure gold.
- 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 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 when Johnny 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?
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