Homeschooling in Hard Times: Introduction
The “Love is…” series is close to my heart, but each post takes me quite awhile to produce. So, I decided to start another series concurrently that would involve less study and prayer to produce, yet hopefully be timely and encouraging. The Lord put it on my heart to start a discussion about what we all do when we are called to homeschool through hard times. Let me start by defining my terms: “homeschooling” and “hard times.
“By “homeschooling,” I mean teaching your kids at home, but I don’t necessarily mean the 3 R’s. There are many things that we teach our kids by modeling responses to life’s ups and downs. All homeschooling is not created equal–or alike! Some of us teach all academic subjects to all our kids, some use resource centers or co-ops for some classes but teach others ourselves, and some of us have older students whom we drive to and fro and continue to parent, but we do no academic instruction with them. Even in this last listed case, you are by my current working definition “homeschooling.” Someone has wisely said, “All parents homeschool; some just do it full time.” Said another way, homeschooling is “parenting concentrate,” and while all parents have differing degrees of intensity, we are all homeschooling in this, the broadest, definition of the word.
What do we mean by “hard times”? Again, I’m going broad. With the national news so full of doom and gloom economic news (and with homeschooling fathers that we know losing their jobs), the term “hard times” immediately connotes “economic challenges” to homeschooling. We’ll include that situation in this series. But there are other ways that we homeschool in hard times. Here are a few that this series will address:
- There are those among us who have given birth to children with serious physical or mental challenges. These newcomers need many hospital trips, surgeries, and/or specialized care at home, not to mention the emotional toll on the parents. What happens to the homeschooling (and the new child’s siblings) when Mom’s time is so drained by the challenges of caring for needy children? These are hard times, but there is grace in this situation. We’ll be looking for that grace!
- Take a similar case, but different: some older children develop new ailments, sometimes life threatening but other times simply grinding. I’m thinking of everything from a diagnosis of a brain tumor to diabetes. Suddenly, a homeschooling family that had great balance is thrown off as new demands on Mom’s time surface. What does such a family do to cope? What about the missed lessons–should we be concerned?
- How about the care of elderly parents? Many of our parents haven’t prepared for their retirement, or their savings have disappeared, due to the downturn in the stock market. Or, maybe money isn’t the issue: rather, it’s for their physical needs–such as in-home sick care, the sale of a home or other financial management, trips to the hospital, or providing meals–that we, their children, simply must provide. Whether we take them into our homes or travel to serve them in theirs, elder care drains our resources for homeschooling, so it qualifies as “hard times.”
- What if you or your spouse become sick or disabled? Is it a given that the family must stop homeschooling? What are the options–the pros and the cons–of continuing to keep children home through such a difficult season?
- What resources for homeschooling do we have if we become single parents? Whether through accident, illness, or relational conflict, losing a spouse is hard times, and these hard times demand much prayer and thought. Many suddenly single parents ask, “Is homeschooling even possible?”
I think God may have other scenarios for us to discuss as well as the ones I outlined above. The heart of this series won’t be the topics that I come up with, though. I am hoping that this series of posts are “thread starters,” where some of you who are living out these hard times currently to the glory of God can chime in and share both the things you’ve learned along the way as God brings you through hard times and your prayer requests for ongoing situations.
When we consider the possible trials of this world that we may be called on to endure, and when we see our nation stepping close to crossing the lines of prudent governance, aren’t we all tempted to fear? But God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)! The watch verse for this series will be the following, from Isaiah 43:1-3 (ESV):
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
We will all go through various trials. Jesus promised us that. Since homeschooling is our way of life, it too will be tested and tried. Homeschooling takes faith; homeschooling through hard times takes faith that eagerly looks up in hope and expectation. God is real, He is there, He is sustaining us with His amazing grace. What we probably most need in hard times is the reminder that He will never leave us nor forsake us; that He is refining us like gold or silver tried by fire. We will not be eternally harmed in hard times, nor will our precious children. If we walk by faith, even in hard times, we will not only live, because we know that “the righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:7, and Galatians 3:11), but we will grow stronger in our faith and our love for God as He proves Himself faithful to us (James 1:2-4).
Let’s start the conversation now: does anyone have a testimony to the fact that your homeschooling journey through a rough patch has grown your faith or love for God?