One of the most freeing truths I have come to embrace is that a homeschool atmosphere is not going to look like a school atmosphere. It’s different – and the freedoms a smaller, intimate atmosphere offers should be celebrated.
Of course, an atmosphere of love, joy and coziness can, and should, be nurtured in every home regardless of how one educates their children. But I have seen this battle out in the minds of mothers often – how do I create a homeschool atmosphere within my home in which to educate my children to the best of my God given ability?
Every home will look different. Goals will be different. Resources will be different. Temperaments will be different. Dynamics will be different. This is, I think, very important to embrace on the onset of looking to set up a homeschool atmosphere within one’s home. What it looks like for one simply will not work in another’s home. Below are my ideas, inspirations, and aspirations for creating an atmosphere within our home that is nurturing and encouraging and beautiful. If an idea resonates with you, wonderful – make it your own. If it seems burdensome and too much, move on.
The Child Breaths the Atmosphere Emanating From His Parents
Can you define what you would like your home to look like? I’m not talking about dusted floor boards and alphabetized DVD collections. What feelings do you want your children to feel in your home? What do you want to feel? Your husband? Start by considering the needs and desires of those your heart is most closely connected to.
Then take a deep, honest look at yourself.
“According to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:16-19
If our home atmosphere is fed by the ideas that the parents hold dear, how much of a weight does that put on us as parents to feed on the truth in Philippians 4:8;
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Our Weakness | His Strength
I genuinely enjoy homeschooling my kids. I like what I get to create in my home and the hands on opportunities we have with our children’s education. The enjoyment of it as a whole is quite honestly what keeps me going sometimes. It’s not that every moment is beautiful, productive, or enjoyable. It is sometimes messy, unproductive, and there are plenty of clashes in personalities and temperaments.
But those unpleasant moments cannot rule our home – they are opportunities for God’s grace to shine.
Remember the verse in 2 Corinthians that talks about our weakness? It is God’s strength that comes through when we are weak.
It is ok to be weak. It is ok to not have it all together.
It is what we do with our weakness that matters. His strength is sufficient. And we need to lean on the strength of the Lord each day to move forward in fostering an atmosphere within our home that is truly beautiful and lovely.
The Responsibility of the Mother
As the mother in the family my attitude, tone, and focus dictates an enormous amount about our home’s attitude and I have the power to craft a happy home or a miserable one. And while this is of course true of any mother, it is true of every teacher too – so the mother who bears both titles for her own children has a lot on her shoulders.
But it is a joyful responsibility.
When I am feeding my soul needs by spending time with the Lord each day – whether it be rising early or setting the children to a task that keeps them busy and doing it with them nearby – I can better meet the day and needs of others.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” – oh how that truth applies to homeschool mothers!
Appealing to our Senses
Setting our minds, heart, and attention to the things of the Lord – holding an eternal perspective – will do wonders for the atmosphere of our home. But there are visual things we can do to nurture and enhance the atmosphere. God created us with senses, and we can appeal to them when creating an atmosphere within our home.
Diffusing oils, burning candles, windows open, fresh baking – these smells conjure up warm and cozy feelings.
Blankets and throw pillows of varying textures invite you to curl up for some sweet conversations or with a good book.
A couple go-to music lists to play in the background can really set the tone for chore time, study time, or dinner time.
Minimizing possessions, and having a home for everything, helps keep a clutter free atmosphere which helps with clarity.
Be the Joy in the Journey
These “extras” are lovely and truly do help, but there are some non superficial complications that can arise and cause headaches and no amount of oil diffusing or classical music will solve.
For example, I have many moments of frustration with a particular child whose learning style is so completely foreign to me. But my husband gently reminds me – it is a journey. It’s not a race and there is no moment in life when learning ends. We are raising him to be a man of character and an independent learner.
The child doesn’t need to know “it” today, or even next week. This is a process, a journey. And I can enjoy the journey.
More so, I have been challenged with the thought of being the joy in the journey of education for my children. Creating an environment that is warm and inviting – a mixture of textures, smells, and beautiful things to touch, hear, and see; to appeal to the senses in a way that inspires and delights – helps me and them. But remembering that they are each made in the image of the Almighty God and they hold unique traits that can be molded and shaped for His service is humbling.
Celebrate who the Lord made them to be. Be on their side. We guide, direct, train and discipline but all with the purpose of directing them towards their Savior.
A Full Life
Getting outside daily does WONDERS for us all – purposeful nature study or just a simple walk – we all feel better when we have spent time out of doors. The atmosphere of our homeschool is instantly lifted; boys can go gallivanting and burn energy, and the fresh air is invigorating.
Hot cups of tea in the afternoon, along with a story or conversation, is another uplifting activity we all enjoy.
A special treat to munch while doing personal reading and copy work has lent itself to making a tedious task feel much more enjoyable – they are self propelled to get those tasks done on their own as they know a treat awaits them. My boys will do most anything for food.
It’s not how much my kids know. I could never live up to that pressure.
The idea of giving them a “full life” encourages me towards creating this homeschool atmosphere that pushes a love of learning, a love for the life God has given each of us as individuals – uniquely crafted by Him, a love for His people and creation and, most importantly, a love for Him.
Each day may appear as a little thing, but it is the culminative effect of many little things that make the greater whole.
A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing. – Hudson Taylor
In closing, here is a precious poem shared often by Elisabeth Elliot that can encourage our hearts towards cultivating an atmosphere within our homes.
Do it immediately,
Do it with prayer,
Do it reliantly,
Casting all care.
Do it with reverence,
Tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee
With earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence,
Safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings,
Do the next thing.
-Unknown, but quoted by Elisabeth Elliot
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
- What type of atmosphere would I like in my home?
- If someone were to ask my children right now what our home was like, what would they say?
- What steps can I take to bridge the gap between my ideal and the current reality?
- Am I a joyful mother?
- What are the ideals, thoughts, worries, joys and delights that fill my day, and therefore fill my mind?