All of us who begin homeschooling, if we’re honest, want to build a stronger family relationship out of it. Some of us might even imagine some Little House on the Prairie sort of one-room schoolhouse where our children are enthusiastic, self-directed learners who are always obedient, patient and kind.
Eventually, our fantasy is pulled back to reality. We find that our children are mean to each other, disobedient to us and our house is descending into chaos. We feel like we can’t handle the homeschooling thing, and we realize that homeschooling isn’t something that automatically builds relationships.
Instead, we often find that homeschooling is taxing to relationships. Instead of having a break from you, your child finds that you’re the one who is telling him what to do 4 hours or more per day for school, and then you’re making him clean his room, share in the household chores, be kind to his siblings and practice his AWANA verses or piano songs. It can be too much.
This means that, as homeschoolers, we have a special responsibility to be intentional with spending time relationship building. We have to intentionally feed love languages and make connections that will help replace some of the strain on our relationship that is caused by our homeschooling days. Homeschooling together is a great thing to do together, but it’s “work,” and we can only demand so much “work” from our children without pouring into our relationships with them.
Because of the work I’ve been doing with the Motivate Your Child Action Plan, I’ve been learning to pay special attention to my relationship with my children. (And my Hubby too, but that’s another story.) If I’m going to ever have the authority to speak into their lives and help them develop into the people God wants them to be, I’m going to have to build into our routine more time for connection and and relationship building.
Here are some ways that I’m working on it:
1. I’m focusing on discipleship first. My Hubby told me several years ago that he considered it a good school day if the children and I spent some time in the Bible and if we were learning. As such, I’m focusing on discipleship first. If nothing else happens, our Bibles are read and we pray together every day. In fact, I intentionally try not to identify us as “homeschoolers.” We don’t do school. We may have some language arts, math or other learning activities together, but we’re living our lives together and learning is part of it–even for Mom and Dad.
2. My primary ministry is to my own children. I can still teach in church classes, and co-op situations, but I can not get myself so busy anymore that all my “free” time is taken up with feeding into other people’s children. Instead, I have to do right by my own.
3. I’m decluttering my house so that I can have more time to play, cook and have fun with the children. Having those low pressure times of spending time with my children will open the opportunity and shared memories to be able to connect with them on a deeper level.
4. I’m simplifying my plans for my children. While I’m continuing to make plans for my children, I’m not pressuring them with a timeline, deadline or any other type of thing. I’m also trying to allow ample time for them to explore their own interests and to spend time in pretend play.
5. Spend time figuring out each child’s love language and begin to feed that love language. This way I can make sure that the things that we’re doing together are things that are really connecting with them.
The best thing though is that homeschooling gives me time. Through this time, I’m able to foster the relationships that I want to have with my children. So, if I say “No” a lot more than you think I should, don’t be surprised. I’m just attending to my calling and trying to be the best parent that I know how to be. If I say “no” to you, it’s so I can say “yes” to them.