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Parents Teaching, in the Technical Sense
By Lynda Schab

This may be a no-brainer, but some of us just aren't cut out to be teachers, at least in the technical sense. I should know; I tried it.

And I failed.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't go so far as to say I was a failure, although the word did flash through my mind like a neon light more than once.

My two children, then in second grade and preschool, attended a Christian school. Money was pretty tight, and we made the difficult decision to pull them out. Since my husband and I weren't thrilled with the idea of sending them to a public school, we decided to homeschool!

How brilliant!

Homeschooling is super-popular in our area. We even have a Homeschool Building nearby, one of only a few in the country, with tons of resources: enrichment classes, a library, bookstore, even a gym for sporting events! Plus, one of my best friends was starting to homeschool too! We could encourage each other, support each other, organize field trips together. It would be great!

There were doubts, feelings of "what am I getting myself into?" and realizations of how awesome this undertaking really was. In the back of my mind I felt scared and unsure, but I pushed those thoughts aside, chalking them up to fear of the unknown and hoping they would disappear altogether once we actually started school. I prayed about it, and felt like God was giving me the go-ahead, since there were no road-blocks or warning signs pointing me in any other direction.

I poured myself into school preparations, subscribed to on-line homeschool mailing lists, purchased curriculum and supplies, created daily schedule calendars, even signed up as an Usborne Books At Home consultant to get great books for cheap. By August I was ready to go. I had everything I needed--except full confidence that this was the right thing to do.

Well, it wasn't long before my doubts intensified. Rarely did the day go exactly how I planned (surprise, surprise). Housework was demanding my attention, especially the toys covering the floor like a blanket due to kids being home--all the time. The phone was always beckoning, persuading me to make a "quick call," throughout which I would be waving off my kids, or telling them to "do three pages and you can be done." The computer was constantly calling my name, the empty screen screaming to be fed with words from my latest article ideas.

My kids probably did an average of one hour of schoolwork per day that year, and I think we went on maybe two field trips in all. Math and Language Arts were the only real priorities, if you could call it that, with my "three pages and you're done" attitude. I did attempt Science a couple of times, doing simple experiments with kitchen items and magnets. History? Nah. History was boring. Art consisted of coloring or drawing, and who needed Gym? They played outside and rode their bikes. Wasn't that enough?

Needless to say, it wasn't working.

I know it sounds like I was extremely selfish, and I obviously wasn't totally committed to the awesome responsibility of educating my children. Discipline has never been one of my strong points. I felt guilty about that for a while, because I love my kids and I want the best for them! I didn't know why it was so hard for me to devote several hours a day to the biggest blessings in my life! Was it really too much to ask? Or expect? After all, when they were born, I had vowed to take care of them, and love them, and train them up in the way they should go, as the Bible instructs. I struggled for a long time with feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and doubts over my abilities as a mother.

Then God spoke to my heart that there were different ways of teaching--not everyone was cut out to be a teacher, in the technical sense. That's why millions of teachers exist all around the world: because they are called to teach. God called me to be a mother. He called me to love my kids, to care for them, to give them everything they needed from me as their mom. He called me to teach and train them to love God with all their hearts--to know Him, to serve Him well. What God did not call me to do was teach Math, and Language Arts, and Science, and History, and Gym. That's reserved for other teachers to do. Teachers who are trained and gifted in these areas.

I no longer feel guilty for not desiring to homeschool my kids. I don't regret that year. If nothing else, my kids grew closer, learning to appreciate each other more. They now attend a public school and are very happy. And I am happier too, able to concentrate on being a better mom to my kids. I love picking them up from school, hearing about their day, spending time with them, fully devoted to being the best mom I can be--and that's teaching them something they'll take with them for the rest of their lives.
Lynda Schab has had her work published in greeting cards, magazines, and several FaithWriters' Anthologies. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children, where she is currently working on her first novel. You can write to Lynda care of the Letters page of this magazine.