How can I survive homeschooling?
When we first heard about ATI, we were thrilled! Then we saw the brochure. That well-groomed, happy faced family sitting around a table. The children busily doing schoolwork together. Mom and Dad looking composed and in control. That picture scared us to death, because we knew our little rag-tag crew would never measure up.
After another few years, the chaos at home finally forced us to realize we needed to change course. We had always homeschooled our children, but now we felt desperate for a new approach. We held our breath and took the plunge. We joined ATI. Through the ups and downs of the months and years that followed, we discovered the key to enduring through struggles to gain the fruit of seeing God at work.
The Real Story
As many ATI veterans will tell you, the first year is often a disaster. Ours was no exception! We had so many old habits to change and new routines to invent. We had many fun and exciting home schooling days, but just for the record, here are some of our “backstage” moments from a homeschooling journal I kept:
“We had a slow start today. It took C a record time of two hours to clean the kitchen!”
“We had quite a go around with K and C after studies were over. They were fighting, and I couldn’t get a straight story from either of them. They both ended up in the corner for quite a while. C was really upset—lots of screaming and crying. By the end of it all, I was ready for a vacation.”
“I have nothing recorded for Tuesday. It was one of those wretched days that I’d like to blot out of my memory—probably a result of overdoing it on Monday.”
“Always crazy, never enough time. But how merciful God is to continually teach us His ways in the middle of this whirlwind!”
“During chore time we had problems with K and C. In addition to everyone bugging one another, C got way behind and K did’t do a complete job. Finally there were tears and anger, so I sent them to their beds while I figured out what I was going to do. After talks and asking for forgiveness, we all gathered down in the kitchen. While C worked on a water distiller, K knitted and I started reading the Science Resource. We were a few steps short of pure chaos with all the activity and interruptions from little M! H tried to help out with M. I didn’t read too long, but our ‘school’ was a different kind today.”
“They look so small and helpless out in the world. At home they can stomp around and be bossy little tyrants at times… Out in the big world, I see them looking so innocent, powerless, and overwhelmed. Then I remember, ‘Oh yes, they still are such little children.’ A couple people commented on how beautiful they were, and how relaxed I was. (Oh my, if they only knew what a crazy, unorganized day this was!) They are beautiful children, and it’s good to step back, get out of the household routine, and appreciate these little treasures from God.”
We had our fun times, but we had many days that weren’t fun! There were days when I felt more like a drill sergeant than a home schooling mother and nights when I got into bed feeling like a complete failure.
Seeing God’s Strength In Our Weaknesses
In those early years, we didn’t have very many “picture perfect” ATI days, but God was faithful and merciful. He took our weaknesses and inabilities as parents and worked through us to train our children, even though we were imperfect tools.
Tom and I realized that we were the ones who really needed changing first—not our kids. God showed us that home schooling in ATI isn’t just for the kids. It is for the whole family. We were all learning and growing. We cried out to Him for a plan for our children, and He showed us He also had a plan for us, the parents. ATI forced Tom and I to work together as a team.
We’ve all heard those stories about couples sitting down together to plan, and ending up in a big fight. It happens! In order for us to communicate, we had to surrender our rights, pursue one another in love, and be honest with one another. ATI isn’t just up to mom. It’s both parents, in oneness of spirit, working together as a team.
We are past the season of spilled apple juice and hot tempers at chore time. Our little rascals didn’t turn into illiterate bumpkins. They all learned to read, write, and do their math sums and are now pursuing their various life callings. The chaotic, three ring circus that we called Wisdom Booklet time gradually turned into meaningful and thoughtful sessions full of lively discussions. Because the ATI curriculum approaches academics from God’s point of view rather than man’s, they learned to think Biblically and to discern wisdom.
Waiting, Trusting, and Finding God at Work
We still have problems, and we always will. To illustrate this fact, here’s a recent homeschooling journal entry:
“We had one of those uncomfortable family talks on Sunday. It started with another discussion about the new church we’ve been attending and then morphed into a general critique of our family’s spiritual condition.
“The days of doll squalls and character discipline are over. But we do still have issues to work through, attitudes to correct, and hearts to cleanse before God and one another. I went to bed feeling totally defeated and didn’t even get up for Wisdom Search the next day.
“By morning, there were some apologies and corrected attitudes. I hate to write about negative events, but this is where we are. The encouragement comes when we see God at work, untangling confused thoughts, healing wounds, and restoring relationships. He is at work. I know He is working, but when you're in the middle of it, you just have to wait and trust Him.”
We still have problems, but we know that all of our problems are solvable as we look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Truly, this focus is the best gift God gave us through our years in ATI, and it is the only way we survived. By keeping our eyes on Jesus, we are able to persevere as we run the race of life with patience. Don’t give up!
“Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrew 12:1–2).
Related Command of Christ
This testimony illustrates the command of Christ to Take My Yoke. (See Matthew 11:28–30.) Tom and Nicole have experienced the need to look to Jesus as their leader, to take the journey one step at a time, and to trust the Lord to bring them through every challenge to fulfill His purposes for their family.