I am spending more time this year mentally preparing myself for homeschooling than I ever have before. I feel it more this year- the weight of it, the responsibility we have assumed. I am not unhappy about that decision- I really and truly believe homeschooling is the best thing for my children.

But, it means that however it turns out, I’ve only got myself to answer for it. Me, imperfect person that I am. My laziness, my procrastination, my impatience– all my very personal flaws, whatever they are, will directly affect my children’s education. I am not just relaying facts and data. Our interaction is not merely a transfer of information, because we are connected by more than scholastics. We don’t have the luxury of impersonal academia. Who I am matters as much as, (and often even more than) what I say. Homeschooling is hugely personal- it’s like “Parenting- Supersized”. Does that make sense? It’s another arena in which my actions must point to Christ. It’s another avenue into their lives that I must strive to show wisdom and enthusiasm and patience and diligence and all the other fruits of the Spirit.

Which, um… is hard.

I’ll be honest- there are days when sending them to school for eight hours doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Why, think of all I could get done!

But almost as quickly as that thought comes, I remember this too: if I am able to spend eight extra hours of the day with them, sharing and struggling towards the fruits of the Spirit– how can that not be amazing? What a great boon that I can provide them with an education, consecutive with their spiritual development! To think of them spending the bulk of their day with someone who may or may not be a Christian, reading from textbooks that quite often hold ideas contrary to the Bible, surrounded by peers whose influence could undermine that innocence we have worked so hard to preserve, well shoot! There’s a clear winner here!

As certain as I am that this is the right thing for my family, and as blessed as I am to be doing it, I realize also that I have got to gird myself up. I’ve been coasting a little bit in my spiritual life, but that’s got to change. So, as I create our daily schedule, pore over curriculums, mentally review all the ins and outs of educating this crew– I realize that the greatest preparation needs to happen within me. All these untidy sins lingering in my soul have got to go. All the organization in the world won’t make a bit of difference if chaos and rebellion hide within my heart. If I am not tending to the condition of my soul, then their education will only be one of the many things that will suffer as a result of it.

The truth is, homeschooling is just an extension of parenting. No matter how we educate them in later life, we begin teaching our children from the moment they are born. Our lives are a textbook they read every day. They study us, day and night, in our best and worst, in our highs and lows. They never stop learning, even the sinful lessons we wish we hadn’t imparted.

If we are not diligent, if we are lazy in our Christianity, if we don’t seek to grow the fruits of the Spirit in our own lives, then we shouldn’t be surprised if they do not blossom in our children’s. We cannot graft into those little gardens what does not exist in ours!

Just some things to ponder, whether you school at home, at an institution, or on the moon. The most important lesson in life is to love God, whether you’re eight, eighteen, or eighty– and we continue to learn it every day till our last. May my actions (as mother, and as a teacher) be a fat yellow marker that highlights that truth for my children.