You are tired today. It’s been a battle. You made up a song for that spelling list, and your child just flunked the written test you gave. You explained fractions three different ways (You even made a pie chart!), and your child just asked you if a denominator is a part of a bomb. Your child is so frustrated he is in tears, and you are so exhausted that you can’t even offer a hug. You are three weeks behind in your assignment charts, but are desperately fighting the idea of doing school all summer. But, oh, how you had looked forward to a break!
This is for you.
Take three big steps backward, three deep breaths, and maybe even send the kids out for recess in the backyard while you read this. Pour another cup of coffee. There are a few things you need to remember today…You were chosen for this job by the most High God. On the day He gave you your child, He knew you were perfectly equipped to teach him. How?
He gave you that love.
You know, the love every parent has. The if-I-trip-on-the-sidewalk-I-will-take-it-in-the-knees/elbows/face-before-I-would-drop-you kind of love. The love that is so great that you know how great a gift it really was, that he could surrender His Son for you. While we were sinners even.
In human experience it is a rare thing for one man to give his life for another, even if the latter be a good man, though there have been a few who have had the courage to do it. Yet the proof of God’s amazing love is this: that it was while we were sinners that Christ died for us. -Romans 5:7-8 (Phillips)
Yes, you know this, but we just need to be reminded when we are so frustrated. When you are so wound up you want to toss their school books in the front yard… Stop. And give them a hug. Love them.
Then take heart from these three simple thoughts of grace:
1.) Give yourself Grace to step back.
You will get another run at this subject. You’re in this for the long haul. This era of world history will come up at least three times before they graduate, so if they don’t retain how the Treaty of Paris affected American history… it will come up again.
One of the best ways to reinforce knowledge is to touch on and revisit it. If you set this aside for the heated moment, you aren’t quitting, but waiting for a better frame of mind to come at it again. Remind yourself of your commitment to this process. Know that you aren’t walking away, but coming in at another angle.
If you lecture a subject into their mind, but make them hate learning, you have lost the war in exchange for winning the battle. So you will get another chance at the multiplication tables tomorrow, but you won’t get this day back to add another hug or an “I believe in you.” Invest your emotions in those instead.
2.) Make room for Grace
“Cut yourself some slack.” This phrase is easily tossed out without thought. We often use it to excuse a shortfall, but I look at it a bit differently. Slack is the extra. I think of slack as the margin you leave when measuring yardage for a pattern. You never buy “just” what it takes, but enough to make allowances for mistakes, or for needing to let the pattern out on account of a bit too much dessert.
In the same way, let your schedule have slack, a place for the excess to go. Is there really such a thing as too much learning? So cut a little slack into your pattern for the day. Plan a “makeup day” into your homeschool schedule. Yes, plan for grace!
I am an obsessive planner, and yet, I am big on grace… Do my kids just run amuck? No. I plan that every Friday is my day for making up assignments we set aside (possibly under distress) earlier in the week. If we had a smooth week, it becomes a field trip day, or exchanges for a field trip that popped up earlier in the week. Find a margin that works for you, and use it for grace. Whether you take Fridays, or use the Sabbath week schedule, we all need to have room to be flexible.
3.) Grace is being taught and learned here.
As homeschooling moms, we don’t just undertake teaching a set list of educational goals, but also of life. We have a special opportunity for modeling behaviors before our children all day long. They are our disciples.
This may come as a surprise, but we aren’t raising children; we are raising adults. They are children now, but isn’t adulthood the end goal? When we hit an impasse with a school concept, we aren’t just teaching our kids math anymore. We are teaching so much more: how to deal with frustration, how to look at a problem in a new way, or even how to ask God for help.
Show your child grace, just as grace was freely given to you. If Christ can extend His grace to cover my sin, can I not give myself grace to cover my frustration? Can I not give my child grace to take a big step backward? Oh that someday they too will be able to give grace as God does!
So finish up your coffee, join your kids at recess (a good game of tag can run off some of that steam!) , then come back in and try again. You are one amazing mom to be teaching them at home, and today you’ve already taught them something… that you LOVE them enough to do this homeschooling thing, consistently, and with grace. The rest? Well that’s just gravy.
Laura is redeemed by Jesus, a wife to Ben, and a mom to 4 miracles on Earth. Making her home on the high plains, far from the east coast bustle she grew up around, she loves worshiping, homeschooling, gardening, baking, chicken keeping, reading, and being a birth Doula. Laura writes about her adventures in country life on her blog www.homeschoolhighplains.blogspot.com.