We will start school on Monday. Not a take-pictures-with-chalkboards-and-jump-in-full-speed sort of start, more of a do-some-math-after-morning-devotion-and-have-a-history-lesson-during-snacktime-if-things-are-going-well sort of start. We will wade in slowly. But we will start. Summer will be over.
That’s Monday. But today I am making a birthday cake as I sip my coffee, windows open to let in a cool breeze that whispers of fall over and above the sounds of the kids playing outside. It’s peaceful in my kitchen, and once again I am struck with thankfulness that homeschooling allows me this freedom to strike my own balance. I can choose our times and our pace. I can look at these children, at this family, and respond to the needs that I see. Educational needs, physical and behavioral needs, spiritual needs – homeschooling gives me the time and the latitude to address them all in turn. I am ready to begin again.
In this particular back-to-school season, I am coming to recognize a new benefit from homeschooling, one that I hadn’t seen before. A benefit solely for me. Normally these last days of summer find me refreshed. A little sad, maybe, to see the end for awhile of long days of sun and heat and all-day-long play, but ready to settle back into a school routine. But this year has been different. Friend, do you feel refreshed? Me, I feel weary in a season not normally accustomed to weariness. It has been difficult to feel balanced this year, to feel at peace. My heart has been pulled in a million different directions by the pain and uncertainly, the effects of sin, in the world around me.
Do you know what we did when we were confined to our home in response to pandemic? We did school. Do you know what we did when our city boiled over in pain from racial inequality, when violence and disorder threatened to take over? We did school. And all through June and July as the world around us wavered, through shortages and interruption of services and angry voices and changing recommendations and mandates, we did school. And it balanced me. The world outside is full of noise, uncertainty, pain, but there is a peace here in carrying out the vocation God has given me. As I pour into these souls around my table, my soul too is refreshed.
Our August break has been restful in some ways, but probably more-so for my kids than for me. I am craving the return to school in a different way than I have in past years. I know my days will become more full, more laborious, more stressful. School days are not easy. But they are good, right and salutary. In this work there is a rest that my soul craves.
Some of you are beginning a homeschool journey this fall. In the long list of emotions you are feeling, “balanced” may not be a word you would choose to describe your current state. I encourage you to step away from the news, from social media, from comparisons. Ground yourself in your home. Focus on the souls in front of you. Reach out to trusted, godly sources for help and encouragement. May God bless your school year, and may he grant you peace of mind and a sense of balance as you carry out the vocation he has given you!
Amanda Moldstad is a co-founder of the Lutheran Homeschool Association. She and her husband, John, homeschool their five children in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.