“When your child graduates and prepares to go to college, what do you want to have accomplished? What is your number one goal for your child?”
I looked at the paper in front of me and began to write as the speaker had instructed us to do. The people around me did likewise. We were not given the opportunity to share, but I imagine that most of us had similar desires.
Goal#1: I want my children to love God and have a strong desire to walk with Him.
Goal#2: I want them to be rooted and grounded in the truth, with the ability to reason with those who will not agree with them.
For the past three days, I have been attending a “practicum” for homeschooling parents. I had never heard the term “practicum” until last year when I attended for the first time. By definition, practicum is “a course of study designed especially for the preparation of teachers and clinicians that involves the supervised practical application of previously studied theory.” It’s essentially a “train the trainer” session.
I LOVE attending practicum.
In the grind of the everyday, I tend to lose focus on my “why”:
- Why did I choose to homeschool?
- What is my ultimate goal in teaching my children?
- Am I modeling a sense of wonder about His creation?
- Do I demonstrate the ability to logically reason with them?
- Is my attitude to service one of joy or grumbling?
Practicum pulls it all back into perspective.
Beyond practicum, my children and I benefit from our weekly group classes with our smaller homeschooling community. They get the opportunity to work with different parents on topics all of us are covering within the group and interact with other children. Over lunch, I often get the opportunity to hear from other moms about the challenges they are facing within their homeschool and share my own struggles. We learn together. Veteran moms often have tips and tricks to share while new moms bring fresh ideas. It’s such a blessing to feel as though I’m not living in isolation.
Homeschooling is not a popular choice. We need community to help us as we swim against the tide. Because we are outside the norm, we face intense scrutiny. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard questions or statements such as:
“Sure, you’ve got a degree, but it’s not a teaching degree. How can you possibly teach your children everything they need to know?”
“How will your kids ever get socialization?”
“Homeschoolers should be visited in their homes by government workers because they need more oversight to prevent abuse.” (Hello, violation of the fourth amendment!)
As you listen to these criticisms, does it sound a bit like the challenges we get as Christians? Is following Christ—committing to a life of self-denial, standing firmly in truth, loving our neighbors—a popular choice? Do we face criticism? Derision? Persecution?
Do you ever hear things like…
“Christians are bigoted, narrow-minded, and hateful.”
“You must be weak if you need a fairy tale to get you through life.”
“Christians are stupid because they don’t believe in Science.” (I have such a hard time keeping my eyes from rolling when someone says this one.)
We need community.
As a child of God, you are swimming against the current. If you try doing this alone (without Christ) it won’t work. You will fail. We need Christ—His power, His wisdom, and His saving grace.
Jesus also intended for us to work with fellow believers. He told his disciples (who, by the way, were charged with making more disciples):
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13.34-25, ESV
We cannot love the way Christ loved if we do not take the time to know one another. To truly know people, we must visit with them, ask questions, listen to their concerns, and observe their behavior. We are more able to love effectively if we actually work alongside other Christians on a regular basis.
We need community. We need fellowship with God and we need fellowship with other believers. Don’t try to go through this journey alone because you won’t make it.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10.23-25, ESV