Who would have thought, even 2 weeks ago, that today, many of us would be starting the second week of an unexpected isolation and countries-wide physical distancing effort to stem a pandemic? That so many of us would be unceremoniously yanked from our jobs, side-hustles, carpool routes, Bible studies, workout routines — and be dropped into a world of being home every day, distanced from friends and family, and for many moms, suddenly finding yourself in the place of at home educator!
First off, let me offer my support and encouragement. Every family who chooses to homeschool makes that decision carefully and thoughtfully.
We spend months in the summer going over educational resources, ordering materials, studying best methods for our individual children, and putting together schedules that will meet the needs of our families, from top to bottom. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for mamas who are thrust into it without a moment’s notice, and with no say in the matter.
As a stay-at-home, homeschool mom, I thought I would throw together a list of the things that have helped me the most.
Start with the Scriptures
The first and most important book that we have in our day is God’s Word. It is in the light of God’s Word that we view everything else. Everything – all of creation, which includes education, data, and medical science – comes from God; to know creation and be familiar with the Creator, we must look to God’s Word.
If you’ve always wanted to institute a time of family or personal devotions, but have never felt like there has been time, then congratulations! The Lord has just gifted almost all of us with an abundance of time.
Maybe start with a Proverb a day! Or a Psalm a day – what better comfort in such turbulent times? Or Nehemiah and Ezra – read the amazing stories of God’s faithfulness to yourself and your children, and remind them that the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are for us, too!
Anyone who has been reading here for any length of time knows how much we love the Bible Reading Challenge – come and jump in with us. Look for a community of women who are encouraging each other to read God’s Word. Reading through God’s Word with others who love Him and have a deep love for His Word has been one of the richest and most delightful gifts in my life.
Trust Our Teacher
The second thing is a reminder that while you and I and every other person on the planet has been taken by complete surprise, God is not. He knew this day was coming before the foundations of the world were made, and He has always meant it for our good and His glory.
God does give us more than we can handle because He wants us to remember that it is not us, but He who is in control. It is His kingdom we are growing, not our own. It’s ok that this is hard – He meant it to be.
We don’t choose the easiest level of workout every single day if we want to get stronger. Our elementary teachers don’t continually give us simple addition and subtraction sheets every single day of our twelve years of education, and God doesn’t, either. He is in the business of making us more like Him, and that is a gift.
God has chosen this specific time, with each one of us in mind. He has ordained this, and it is for our sanctification. “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14, ESV
Learning Lessons from the Lord
The third thing is a teachable spirit. Not a teaching spirit, but a teach-able one. As a homeschool mom, I’ve come to the realization that as I am teaching my children, overseeing their education, the Lord is teaching me through all of it.
When someone is not grasping that math concept that I’ve had down for 23 years, the Lord is handing me my next assignment: teach this child with patience and grace.
While we might think that we are teaching our children how to sweep the floor, we are actually teaching them how to graciously and patiently deal with someone weaker than us. We are showing them how to be adults one day, and how to treat their neighbor.
When fears start to grip me or when I cannot find grocery essentials that I never dreamed I would see a shortage on, the Lord is handing me another lesson – trust in His providence and care.
Ask Him to provide. Tell Him what you need, and then wait on Him. And remember to thank Him and praise Him! He delights to meet our needs in unlooked-for and surprising ways.
The Lord has shown us more grace and mercy, and forgiven us more than we will ever need to extend to any neighbor, including the small neighbors sharing our kitchen tables. In light of the overwhelming generosity of that, let’s thank the Lord for another opportunity to reflect Him in all our situations.
That is overwhelming, and we can’t do it on our own. So, remember the first thing we need in our day, and in all of life – God’s Word. We need the Lord Jesus, and we need His Word. It is our lifeline in all things and at all times, but He is taking this opportunity to remind us of our weakness and our need for His sustaining grace.
A Clean Slate
The fourth essential to every home – a clean slate, or in this case, a cleaned-off table. There are thousands of beautiful workspaces with desks, quartz countertops, open shelves, adorable posters, and stacks of books available. Those are delightful gifts, but they aren’t essential.
For every gorgeous homeschool, sewing, paint room, or kitchen tour you’ve witnessed on Pinterest this week, there are many more homes with sturdy kitchen tables.
We work at our kitchen table, and we have a little roll cart that we keep our books and supplies (un)tidily on. Every home is different, so do what works!
Our days go so much better when we start them with a cleaned off table – by noon it’s piled with papers, and projects, and we clean it off again, but, as in all things in life, it’s always so helpful and cheery to have a workspace cleared off and waiting.
Small Joys and Good Company
Finally, there are few things a hot pot of tea (with cream and honey) and a good book can’t fix. This is hard for our children, too! Find ways to bless them and help them enjoy each other’s company.
Find them some common ground to work from. Look for a literary hero who has persevered under hard circumstances. Stories shape us! In “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” the Pevensie children are in an isolating situation. You could start there!
For fantastic family read aloud options, age-appropriate suggestions, and books that span multiple ages, look up Sarah Mackenzie at Read Aloud Revival. She has free lists curated specially for every age group, and many other helpful resources.
Rest in God’s Grace
Friends, if I know anything, it’s that there are other extenuating circumstances in life that are making this season that much harder. Beginning a homeschool journey at the best of times – when you have planned and prepared, and our children are also expecting it – is hard. Being thrown into physical distancing and self-isolation is hard.
Throw in the suddenness and a multitude of other problems (from the difficulty in finding flour and toilet paper to mass job loss), and it makes this situation seem much scarier.
It is times like this when we are called, as God’s chosen people, to rest in His sovereign grace. He has not been caught by surprise. He was, and is, and will be. He wrote the beginning and the end of this story, He holds us in His hand, and He will prove faithful. He always has, and He always will.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 ESV