Taking Jesus the Teacher as our model, let's follow his example as we begin a new academic year.
Teaching is a mission — whether you teach as a profession or you teach your own children at home. But the noble calling of teaching doesn’t mean it isn’t demanding. Whether inside or outside the classroom, teaching can be exhausting and wear you down. How can we enter a new academic year with hope and maintain our peace throughout the year so we do not suffer burnout?
In her recently published book, Sweet Jesus, Is it June Yet?10 Ways the Gospels Can Help You Combat Teacher Burnout and Rediscover for Teaching, veteran teacher Amy J. Cattapan says that when teaching gets tough and passion wanes, we can turn to the master teacher Himself for inspiration — Jesus. Although Cattapan’s book is geared to classroom teachers, this is just as true for homeschoolers, or anyone who takes on the sacred task of forming and educating the young.
As summer break draws to a close for many of us in the northern hemisphere, we may still feel weary and worn out from last year and anxious about the state of the world. How can we go into this new school year with a fresh attitude, motivated and joyful?
Inspired by Cattapan’s book, here are 5 ways homeschoolers can enter this new academic year with Jesus as our guide …
Jesus spent time alone with his Father, but he also gathered a community around Him and calls His followers to do the same today.
Connecting with other moms and parents who homeschool is especially important for homeschoolers. Finding others who’ve made the same choice — whether through local coops, extra-curricular activities, social media, church, or support groups — can make all the difference in how you get through your year.
You need people who “get it,” who can share their own experiences, provide feedback and ideas, lift you up on the tough days, and celebrate your successes. So reach out and begin making those connections today — most homeschoolers are very happy to help and support other homeschoolers.
Keep it simple
Jesus began His life as a tiny baby and lived a simple, hidden life in Nazareth with his family until it was time to begin His public mission.
You do not need to do All The Things. You do not need to do what other homeschooling parents or families are doing. Start with priorities based on your child’s level and needs.
The great thing about homeschooling is you can change things up and add things in whenever you want. Keep it simple, start small, and build from there as needed. If you remember this principle, it will go a long way in preventing burnout.
Remember the power of a good story
Jesus knew the power of a good story — that’s why he taught using parables. What Christian doesn’t know the parable of the Good Shepherd or of the Good Samaritan?
Everyone loves a good story — especially children. Make “read-aloud” a regular time in your homeschool day, and compile a list of best books for students (including audio books!) to get at your local library, books store, or online.
Great books convey great ideas and are one of the best teachers for our children. And on days when everything is falling apart, tempers are short, there is sickness or exhaustion, turn to a great story. If you only do that in a day, you’ve done something important.
Know when to bend the rules
Jesus knew all the Jewish laws and customs, and He kept them. But He also knew what those rules were ultimately for and when they needed to be bent. For instance, when He was accused by the Pharisees of breaking the Sabbath, He replied that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Schedules and curricula are important in homeschooling, but it can get stressful if we become slaves to them. As homeschoolers, we don’t have to manage 30 students at different levels in one classroom; we can tailor what we’re doing and how we’re doing it to our own children. This might mean changing the schedule we thought would work so well, trying different things, and abandoning a plan or curriculum for something else. Often it just means taking a break, closing the books early, getting outside, having a picnic, baking a cake together. Know when to bend the rules and how far to bend them — for the sake of peace and joy in your home.
Trust in God’s grace
Jesus certainly trusted in His Father, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord calls us to lean on Him, and to remember that we belong to Him.
As baptized Christians, the Holy Spirit dwells within us and we can call on His power every day. As a wife or husband called to the vocation of family life, we have special graces to teach our particular children. We can trust that God’s grace is sufficient and truly there for us when we call upon it. Our children ultimately belong to God — and we never homeschool alone.
So as we enter a new school year, let us remember the words of Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.”