One of the fears that many moms (understandably) have when it comes to homeschooling is how to cross over from just being mommy to being a teacher. Perhaps you want to homeschool but your little Johnny who has done nothing but play all day barely responds to you when ask him to pick up his toys. How can you possibly teach him? Or maybe you have just pulled little Susie out of public school mid-year. You had a hard time getting her to do her homework! Now I'm supposed to do this all day? While those may sound like your situation, rest assured that every homeschool mom can probably attest to the fact that there are days when their kids just won't listen and school drags on forever. If it happens to you, it's not because you are a failure as a homeschool mom. It's just a fact of life---even with those who have been at this for a long time. It doesn't mean that you cannot teach your kids.
So what can you do? Here are some thoughts on how to juggle being both Mommy and teacher:
1. Remember that you are mommy first, then teacher.
I think this is the most important thing I have learned. God called me first to be their mother: to love, nurture, provide for, train, and bless. Even if you do have to teach math facts, make timelines, or build a mission, remember that your first responsibility is to be their mother. Think of what you want your kids to remember in you---and be that person.
2. Keep things in perspective: Look at your children not as your projects, but people that you get to cultivate and nurture through school.
This is the other side of the coin. They are not little robots to perform for you to make you look good. So when your child just cannot skip count by 7's or when they cannot read when they are in Kindergarten, relax. It's not up to you anyways. They will learn their math facts or how to read or how to spell when they are ready. You don't get brownie points if they do it earlier than everyone else.
3. PRAY a lot, before each day.
Ask God to give you a heart for your children. Ask Him to grant you the patience you need to walk with them, side by side, not push or badger them if they lag behind or punish them if they fail. Ask Him to pour grace in you and through you to your children. Pray that there will be laughter and joy, even when things get frustrating. Pray for creativity when something just doesn't seem to get through.
Sometimes I think that homeschooling changes us more than it changes our kids.
4. Teach them how to obey.
I wrote about this in a previous post, so I won't go on too much about it. Remember that even though I have said that we are to love our children, it doesn't mean that we do not discipline them as any other mother would. It is one of our first lessons to teach as mothers.
5. Work with them, don’t fight them.
Being with them all the time, you can see their faults even more. Step back every now and then to get perspective. Ask the Lord to help you to see what is keeping your kids from "getting" certain concepts. Is the textbook or method not connecting with them? Are they missing some essential steps and need to back up a little? Are they bored? Do they not understand the assignment? Or are they just simply not ready?
Doing this reminds me that this is not all about me. It reminds me that my children are on their own journey. Instead of pushing them on my timetable, God has helped me to look at them from His eyes and help them at their pace. This has been especially true for Anah. She is waaaaaay slower than any of my other children, but that doesn't mean she cannot learn. I just need to take it at her pace and not compare her with the others or push her on my agenda.
6. Keep yourself in perspective. Remember you are a learner too.
This posture has helped me a lot. Instead of lording it over them, I walk alongside with them and explore with them.
7. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong and seek forgiveness. Seek to keep short accounts.
Just as you see their weaknesses, they will see yours (and lots of them!). Whether they are 5 or 15, they need to hear you say that you're sorry. Sometimes that's a far more important lesson than one on mitosis.
8. Do things with them "just because."
I like to take my kids out for lunch and not talk about school. In fact, this is a discipline for me, as it is so easy to just discuss schoolwork with them. Use the time to get to know them as people, apart from what you are doing at school. It also lets them know that you are a real person too.
9. Remember your vision and the big picture.
If you're like us, our greatest desire is to see our children grow into strong, useful, capable, godly servants of the Lord. When all is said and done, character counts more than being able to solve a string of equations or spell 20-letter words.
That's true for our kids. And that's true for you too.