Mistake #4. They fail to count the cost. Homeschool will cost you —your personal time, money, and possibly the loss of your family’s and friends’ support. Many parents react instead of respond by pulling their kids out of school and getting the facts later. Luke 14:28 (NIV) says, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” Luke 14:31 says, “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?” Get the facts first, count the cost, and then make a decision together with your spouse.Mistake #6. They fail to establish priorities and then stick to them. Many homeschool moms wear themselves out doing perfectly good things and then wonder why their homeschool is not going well. Keep your priorities: 1) God, 2) husband, 3) children, 4) work — homeschool in this case, 5) church/ministry, and 6) other. Don’t get so busy doing “good” things that you don’t do the “God” thing He has called you to do.
When the children were smaller (well, it seemed we always had a baby in the family for a time), I always had an excuse not to join the next field trip, attend another homeschool support group meeting, give my commitment to serve in the Sunday School, or even participate in community activities. I always told myself there will be time for those when the children are older and I don’t have to be dragging a baby, some toddlers, and school age children around while attending these engagements. One of the foreseen benefits of going back home to Manila from abroad was the thought that, with household help, I could probably participate in more things. Some children could be left at home when they were not needed allowing the older ones to be exposed to some social activities. I could commit to serve in some church programs. I could even, perhaps, work with my husband in an entrepreneurial endeavor.
So, when our return was realized, I did give some of these a try. And since we still have the same number of hours in a day or in a week, expending some of those hours outside of home schooling inevitably took time away from it. Mind you, these were all very good things. My husband would drag me to his various undertakings as he was exploring business opportunities. He and I would attend a bible study once a weekday almost the whole morning. (It sometimes felt like we didn’t have 5 children at home.) I got to get to know some people in our neighborhood helping out plan some community events – children and family oriented events anyway. There was a host of other opportunities to do things outside of home – weekly home school support groups that took a whole Monday (including an hour of to and fro driving), yoga classes, tennis lessons, weekend getaways with girlfriends, etc.
It was overwhelming, especially when I look at our closetful of curricula I was excited to do with the kids. We were late with our scheduled read aloud. We were not getting to do music and art or science experiments. I wasn’t able to check work regularly or keep updated with what the older girls were working on. The kids were still diligently completing their assigned tasks but without my ongoing feedback, I was sure if I didn’t catch errors in their work or detect a lack of understanding of the lessons immediately, we would all be in trouble. Sooner or later I had to sit down and prioritize. I had to go back to the reasons why I home school. What were my goals for each child and how will I meet those goals? More than academic concerns, how would I be able to shepherd theirs hearts if I was not with them and comfortably settled in my place, our home? That’s when I learned to pick and choose what I commit myself to. I had to count the cost and understand how much of my time home schooling required.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that if you home school, you can’t do anything else. Well, first of all, what really is there you would like to be able to do that is necessary? There are a lot of ways home school moms can get their needed physical activity, socialization, or spiritual nourishment. A regular home school support group meeting could be a good way to talk to other moms, share your burdens, and encourage one another while your children spend time together (and a time your children can interact with other adults more deeply). A commitment to consistent family bible study (eventually a small group of families such as what ours has evolved into) will not only allow you to obey God’s commands to instruct your children or study God’s word with a community, but also give God opportunities to speak to you as you teach. The discipline to prepare before teaching will definitely be used of God to grow you. Moreover, this keeps you accountable in your own walk with God. Coaching your children during swim practice will challenge you to be able to swim as much laps as they could! Or how about being there when one afternoon your older children just need a tennis opponent or a walking companion?
The truth is, there are only so much hours in a day. Each activity we commit to do (even writing a blog!) will take up our time. We must be wise and intentional (planning ahead), praying that, indeed, the Lord will teach us to number our days and make them count.