everyday homeschooling blog


Mar 7, 2014

How to Have the Perfect Home School and Other Myths

Tracy Klicka MacKillop

I never wanted to have a perfect home school. I’ve never wanted to be perfect at anything actually. It’s not that I don’t work hard or don’t set high standards. I do confess, regular exercise has never come easy to me, and my home has probably never been spotless (how do we EVER do that when we and our children live in our home 24/7 anyway?!)

I have spent countless hours, however, organizing our home, divvying up chores among my children, and then planning our curriculum out in each summer for the next entire school year. Our days were always full—busy with training, follow-through, teaching, spending time reading to my kids and teaching them life skills.

Each school day we had time for independent reading, time for creativity, time to develop personal interests, and time to play outdoors and get exercise. We started our school day doing devotions—reading the Bible and often a character story, singing hymns, and praying together.

With seven children, I covered all the basic school subjects and some extra ones too. I love living books, hands-on math, and fun field trips that cement concepts we’re learning in school. Surely, though not perfect, I should have felt confident that I was doing enough, right?

The fact is I always wondered if my kids were missing something. Oh, not in the area of academics, however, nor in the area of life skills. No, I wondered often if I was giving them enough of myself. I’ve spent almost 24/7 with my kids when most moms send their kids off to school for several hours a day.

I’ve always enjoyed running my household of nine, even though it took a lot of this mama’s time trying to keep up with the constant daily needs—don’t we feel often like we get done making one meal and it it’s time to start the next one? And then there’s laundry…mountains of laundry!

Then there’s the cleaning, fixing and replacing the stuff of our home life. That TO DO list never got completely checked off! That’s all beside our school time…several hours each weekday. My head would hit the pillow each night, and after my husband’s prayer and a kiss I’d be out like a light, only to repeat it all again the next day.

Some years into our homeschooling, my husband Chris was diagnosed with progressive MS. That changed everything and added a huge dimension of responsibility and care I thought my plate was already too full for. I realized, more than ever before, that our home school experience would never be what I had hoped and dreamed it would be. I stared directly at my finiteness in the mirror every day.

Before my feet ever touched the ground getting out of bed each morning, I knew I was at the end of my rope! As a desperately needy mom, my sweetest time has always been first thing in the morning with my Lord. Reading His Word, talking to Him, asking Him to lead me and listening for His voice is what makes everything else in my life make sense. It didn’t change the weight of my burden, but it reminded me daily that there was purpose in what we were experiencing and that He was with me moment by moment to help me.

The Lord is my portion; I have promised to keep Thy words. I entreated Thy favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Thy word.” ~Psalm 119:57-58

Overwhelmed! That’s how I felt so often, so I can only say that grace from the Lord helped me set my face like flint to press on in my homeschooling, home-making, and caring for Chris with his debilitating MS. As each year passed Chris’s MS got worse, I felt like more and more was slipping through the cracks. I regularly had to give that feeling, “You’re a failure” over to God. I just couldn’t do it all; not anywhere near it.

After Chris died, I did much less homeschooling for about 18 months. We got through the basics, but not much more…the emotional and logistical process of adjusting to my husband’s death made it impossible to fit in all the schooling I so wished I could do.

What helped me have peace about having a lighter school load was asking myself again, “Am I giving enough of myself to my kids?” I felt it was important to be there for my kids as a mom, especially now that they didn’t have their dad. I knew my kids would learn what they needed for life, even if they got behind a bit. No one else, however, could be their mom I reasoned.

Even with this resolve, I still felt like I wasn’t giving enough. And in a sense, I wasn’t. How does a single mom, or any mom for that matter do everything, give everything, be everything? They can’t.

What I have been learning these past few years is that no matter how easy or normal our lives could have been, I could never give enough of myself or have a perfect home school. God has been teaching me there are places in my children’s hearts only He can fill.

For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”  ~Deuteronomy 32:4

My kids don’t need a perfect mom; neither do I need a perfect home school. What God wants to teach all of us—things like our need for Him, His faithfulness and sufficiency, and the joy that comes knowing Him regardless of our circumstances—is the most important curriculum we could ever have.

The homeschooling journey looks different for you than it does for me, but God is always with us to guide and help. May He help us to trust Him for wherever that journey takes us, knowing that His way is the very best way.

Enjoy the journey...there's no place like home,