Sunday, July 1, 2012

Homeschooling, the First Year: Before Curriculum

(Go to the last article in this series)

Underlying the curriculum-choice frenzy, the debate over learning styles and teaching styles, the ridiculous amount of extracurricular choices we have available to us, and the wide array of tools and support groups and resources of all types, lies one unavoidable truth....

... The truth that regardless of which curriculum I choose, which support groups I join, which extracurriculars I sign up for, which teaching tools and tricks I use, it won't make any difference if my child won't obey me when I tell him that he needs to do his work.

And furthermore, since we have to live together 24-7 - and prefer to live in relative peace - the obedience that I require from my children must also be cheerful and prompt.

And that's the ugly truth.

Of course, it's not new truth. It's old news that the Bible has been teaching for centuries:
"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."  (Colossians 3:20)                                                                                                                              
When my children (or child, since the other two are too young) are obeying and are obeying respectfully, we have peace, joy in each other's company, and things work well. When there is disrespect or mocking tones, disobedience or obedience that is delayed, grudging, or accompanied by tantrums, our house is filled with strife, stress, anger, blaming, and raised voices of all types - and it takes a lot more work to get anything done at the school table.

It's that simple.

But oddly enough, children don't just obey automatically! (Fancy that!) They come well-equipped with everything that could possibly test a parent's patience - disobedience, tantrums, sulking, whining, begging, arguing, bargaining - everything that makes family life miserable. And as a parent - and furthermore, the parent who is most often with the children - it's my job to deal with this. It's my job to turn out decent human beings who have consideration for others, basic manners, the ability and willingness to help out, and the obedience to listen to my instructions and carry them out.

But though my job is simple and clear, it is not easy. Far from it. Parenting has been the hardest thing that I have ever attempted in my life, and the job I have done is far from stellar. I have so far to go - in my methods, my attitudes, my diligence and follow-up, my standards, my expectations - pretty much everything. This is a journey, and a long one, and it is the most challenging work that I have ever done.

Nevertheless, it is my job - as a mother, and especially so as a homeschool mother. We can't make headway with any curriculum if my children won't obey me - and we won't have any peace in the house either if our children are rude, disrespectful, and disobedient.

That's part of my new job - God give me grace and wisdom for the journey. I certainly need it.

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