I’m pretty serious about the academic side of home education. Consider Exhibit A: I spent 17 years teaching three children at home. Exhibit B: I spent 15 years writing a four-volume world history curriculum. And, Exhibit C: All my children have graduated from college with honors and one is presently working on her Master’s. So, evidence would suggest that the Hobar family placed a genuine emphasis on the “school” side of homeschool. But I must say in retrospect, I don’t think those 17 years of home education would have been truly successful, or the least bit delightful, if we hadn’t placed a sincere emphasis on the “home” side of homeschool—where love and respect are born and bred. Let me elaborate.
Since our children were little, my husband and I cared about keeping our home “homey.” To him, that meant our main spaces were clean, clutter-free, and organized, with crates, hooks, and labels for everything. For me, that meant our living areas were decorated, cozy, and inviting, with pillows, blankets, and good lamps for reading. Between the two of us, I think we naturally created that kind of homey-home.
But much more important than making our house neat and comfy, my husband and I cared about keeping our home in good balance. To him, that meant that along with keeping up the yard and our cars, there was always time to tumble, tickle, and play. For me, that meant that along with keeping up the laundry and meals, there was always time for talking, tenderness, and affection.
Without planning it, I think by God’s design and by doing what came natural in the realms of love and respect, we drifted toward keeping our home a healthy place for work, play, and matters of the heart. Did this shape the success of our homeschool? I think so! Since homeschooling is really an extension of how you live, I think we instinctively created an atmosphere for learning in our home where hard work was rewarded, fun and kisses were expected, and grace was readily available.
Let’s take that to a deeper level. From the earliest days of having children, my husband established a “no tone” policy with our kids. (I never mastered it!) It meant that when he and the children were working or playing the kids were not allowed to have a disrespectful tone with their father (ie. no backtalk, no rolling of the eyes, and no foot-stomping protests.) Like a gentle giant, he simply earned their respect without shouting, arguing, bartering, or bribing. You could say he was the fun, lovable, admirable captain who kept the lines of authority straight in our home. Did his parenting style influence our homeschool! Absolutely. At the end of the school day, the children knew they were accountable to their dad, even if they had me sidetracked. (And that was easy to do!)
Truthfully, I didn’t fare so well when it came to discipline. Being a Mary, and not a Martha, I struggled too much with my feelings to enforce the rules like I should have. But, when it came to loving my children, and caring for their needs, I believe I did my job well. (At least most of the time!) That means that working or playing with my children, I showed patience with they were childish, gave comfort when they were hurt, and insisted they love one another through words and deeds. And when we didn’t get it right, we napped, we hugged, and we prayed together for forgiveness and grace. You could say I was the sappy, bubbly, softhearted “second” captain who kept the lines of love and communication straight in our home. Did this influence our homeschool? I think so. At the end of the school day, no matter how rough it had been, my children knew they were deeply loved by their mama and could talk to me about anything.
I share all this to remind you that homeschooling is a two-part word. To succeed in the part that is school, it helps to succeed in the part that is home, where love and respect are groomed and developed if children are college bound or not. In fact, because college degrees don’t ultimately define success, then the “home” side of homeschool is that much more important! So I ask: on the home front, are you working hard, playing hard, and dealing well with matters of the heart? Is there an atmosphere in your home of love, respect, and forgiveness? If so, thank God. It’s heaven on earth when our homes are the safe refuge they should be and a warm, snuggly place where our families can thrive, grow, and retreat from the world. Schooling, studying, and learning should naturally follow well to help place our children wherever the Lord leads them.
Now, if for some reason your home is not in the shape you’d like it to be, first, take heart and don’t feel alone. All homes have seasons of disarray, storms, and crises. (Ours included; but that’s another post!) Second, perhaps it is time to set school aside temporarily to fill the love tank at home and work on improving respectful family dynamics. We have done this, more than once—because when there’s chaos at home, school doesn’t follow very well! So, be it for a few months, a couple of weeks, or for several Fridays here and there, de-clutter, revise chore charts, re-establish respect through discipline, pull out some family games, read books on marriage and parenting, or prioritize time in God’s Word. “Homeschool.” It’s a two-part word with “home” needing just as much attention as “school.”