Michele here. I originally wrote this in 2008, when our oldest daughter, now 10, had just turned 5. I've edited it a bit, but want to share it because I believe it's a good reminder for all of us.
The last few weeks, leading up to our oldest child’s 5th birthday, I have been thinking about our family and the things that we want the kids to learn. Not just the academic things, but everything we want them to learn: sharing, joyfully helping other family members, not complaining and whining, picking up after themselves, not slamming doors (I’ve been working on this one today!), hiding God’s Word in their heart, contributing to the family by helping with chores, being content with what they have.
As the mother of three young children, I spend a lot of time correcting the children. God didn’t give me perfect children (nor them a perfect mommy) and they are constantly testing the boundaries (particularly of my patience!). It takes time for me to train them, and lots of it. So instead of thinking of all the things that I’m not getting done or that I should be doing, I want to focus on the things that I am doing. Because our goal is that our children will grow into adults that love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and love other people as they love themselves. And along the way I know that they’ll learn to read and do math and write a decent research paper. But those other things, the intangible things, are the things they learn best as young children.
So if you’re ever at my house and you wonder when in the world we actually ‘do school’ around here, just remember that we’re doing it all the time, 24 hours a day. Every time I ask a child to help me in the kitchen and she comes cheerfully and willingly, she’s learning to have a servant heart. When she’s reciting her AWANA verse verbatim, she’s hiding God’s Word in her heart. But it’s even better when a few days later she is in a situation and remembers her verse and it helps her to make the right decision. And when we’re praying at bedtime and our middle one reminds us to pray for the ladies in prison, that they will know Jesus and be brave to share Him with others, she is cultivating compassion.
I thank God for the opportunity I have to be home with my children. Even though some days I wonder what in the world I’m doing and other days just want to run away, I know that this is the right decision. I’m going to remember what I’ve written so that while I’m planning our ’schooling’ for the next few months I can make sure to do the things that are the most important and not pressure myself into doing what the world would have me do, but concentrate on the things that have eternal value.
It is now 2014 and I'm still lesson planning, but now for a 5th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader, and a 3 and 2 year old. And I still need to be reminded that the important things are the eternal things. I am so very grateful that God doesn't give up on me!