On Schooling at Home and Changing Plans

Just in the last couple of weeks, I have had four friends share that they have decided to homeschool this year; and I know that number is growing exponentially as we all seek to make sense of this year. When it seems so much is out of our control, this is one area we actually can take back – our children’s schooling. I totally understand, because at one point, we did too.

Though completely different circumstances, it brings me back to a couple of years ago when we were in a difficult place of sorting out our children’s education. Since before we had children, Ben and I had felt strongly that we would aim to public school them, for convictions beyond the scope of this post. When we considered where in the world to serve in theological education and discipleship, schooling options for our children became a major factor. It was, in fact, one of the deciding reasons why we chose South Africa – for the good government school just up the road from us, where we planned to send our children.

Many of you know the details of our story, but in sum, enrolling our eldest in this school proved more difficult than we had expected, and we would need to obtain an additional visa for her. Additionally, we had our first trip back to the States planned for her first grade year, which would require pulling her out halfway through the South African school year. We prayerfully talked through our options for several months, though our options continued to shrink. In the end, we felt peace about homeschooling for her first grade year, and the decision in and of itself was a relief, though we knew the task was monumental.

This was two years ago, and I can confidently say now that we are grateful for the circumstances which caused us to change course. Homeschooling our children has been an unexpected joy and gift to our family, and though we take it a year at a time, we plan to carry on for as long as it makes sense.

For many families, this change of course educationally is far from ideal; many have made decisions in the past years which is best for their families, and have now had to redirect completely. Not only is this frustrating (“We had figured out what was good for our family!”) but it’s also completely unsettling (“What will this year be like? How will we do it?”). My heart is heavy for our many friends who are navigating this; and yet, I am also hopeful. Thankfully, our God is in the business of bringing good out of hard circumstances. His plans are providentially far better than our best-laid ones.

Maybe in the end, schooling at home will not be the best fit for every family. But perhaps there was a child, or two, who really needed that extra time with Mom or Dad; who needed a break from the social pressures of school; who needed some time to work at his own pace; who benefited greatly from extra free time; who enjoyed a slower pace. Perhaps there are parents who needed to reconnect with their children; who learned more intricately about their children’s strengths and weaknesses; who discovered new passions and fears in their children’s hearts; who needed to die to self more deeply each day to live for Christ; who had more space to disciple the hearts of their children.

And maybe, at the end of this hard circumstance, when COVID is more of a memory, and whatever form of normal has returned, we can look back on these change of plans with gratitude. Though they were hard, there was good. Do we have the eyes to see it?

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

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