By Guest Author Marcia Washburn
[Editor’s note: In “Eight Habits for Highly Successful Homeschooling, Part 1,” Marcia discussed the first three habits. You may read Part 1 here.]
HABIT #4: Become a student of your child
Study your child. What is his temperament?1 What is her learning style?2 What is his love language?3
Is my child ready to learn this particular skill I’m trying to teach? One of our sons taught himself to read at age four; another was still not reading at age ten. We set aside the phonics materials, continuing with his other subjects; when we returned to reading instruction six months later, he could read! It was simply a readiness issue.
Another son rapidly progressed to third grade math while in kindergarten but got stuck on division. He stayed at the same math level for two years until his readiness level finally caught up and he moved on again.
HABIT #5: Seek support
Avoid the Lone Ranger Mom Syndrome. Genesis 2:18 reminds us that it is not good for man to be alone. It is not good for homeschoolers to operate in isolation either. Connect on as many levels as possible to ensure your homeschool success. At the personal level, you may connect with a mentor who can suggest solutions for everything from teaching challenges to developing household management skills that support the homeschool lifestyle.
At the local level, connect with a support group — both for your sake and for your children’s. Start one that works for you, if necessary.4 Connect at the state level with your state organization for conferences and other special events. At the national level, connect with the Home School Legal Defense Association.5
HABIT #6: Realize that every homeschool will look different
Don’t compare yourself or your homeschool with others. You are God’s choice as your child’s parent, whether he is your child by birth, by adoption, or by marriage.
Be realistic in your expectations, both of your children and of yourself. You can do this! God does not call us to do what He does not enable us to do. You’ve already taught your children the tough stuff — walking, talking, and potty training. Be encouraged by the progress already made.6
HABIT #7: Enjoy the journey
Have fun together. Don’t get grim about learning. Don’t school at home — learn at home. Explore your subjects together.
Develop a habit of happiness. Bobb Biehl says, “Happiness is having what you want and wanting what you have. By focusing your thinking on what you have that you want, you will be a lot happier than focusing your thinking on what you want but don’t have.”
God has provided everything you need for your present happiness. Paul wrote from a Philippian jail, “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”7
HABIT #8: Trust God for the results
There will be days when you question your decision to homeschool. There will also be days when you know in your heart that homeschooling is the only way you would ever have it. It is easy to become discouraged when we focus on ourselves. But when we focus on God and His provision, our hope is restored.
Michael Farris reminds us,
If you could always get an A+ as a teacher, there would be no need for God’s help. We are weak vessels, to be sure, but God has chosen to use us to accomplish his great purpose, that of conforming our children to the image of Christ. Though we cannot hope to be perfect parents or make perfect decisions about our homeschooling, we can trust ourselves to God, who knows all the intimate details of our lives and theirs. Though we cannot hope to follow him perfectly, we can trust him to redeem what is lost and to cover over even a multitude of sins with his perfect love.
Do your best, but don’t assume total responsibility for every choice your child makes. God is the Perfect Parent and looks at what His kids do sometimes!
Focus on God’s grace for your home. Parenting puts you on your knees — homeschooling keeps you there!
Congratulations on your decision to begin or to continue your homeschool journey. It is an adventure, you know. There will always be surprises. You are doing what so many parents won’t do — investing your life full-time into the children God has entrusted to you. Develop these eight habits and watch as God grows a successful homeschool in your home.
© 2012-2021 by Marcia K. Washburn. Excerpted from Managing Your Homeschool from the Management for Moms Series. Reprinted by permission. See www.MarciaWashburn.com for more articles, books, and resources.
1See Why You Act the Way You Do by Tim LaHaye. Highly recommended!
2100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy. Discusses your teaching style as well as your child’s learning style and recommends materials that work well for each.
3The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
4See Activity Days for Homeschool Groups & Families by Marcia K. Washburn for ideas for your meetings. Available at www.MarciaWashburn.com.
5See www.hslda.org for info on legal protection, legislative updates, & other important information.
6See Marcia’s article, The Ideal Homeschooling Mother, at MarciaWashburn.com, for more encouragement on this topic.
7Philippians 4:11b KJV