But I’m Only A Mother
The most common response from women is, “But I couldn’t teach my children. I’m only a mother!” Whether you realise it or not this simply isn’t true. Just by the act of giving birth you became a teacher and most of what you teach you learn one step ahead of your child. Certainly no-one gave you a manual when you took your baby home.
You probably had no other qualifications as mother except that you had carried and given birth to the child. With your first child you may have had no experience of children at all. Even if you were used to handling babies, this was different. This one was yours! You and your husband were responsible for him and you were stuck with him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year until such time as he became an adult. No returns were accepted. No-one questioned your qualifications then, why should they question them when the child turned five?
Experts say that children learn more in the first seven years of their life than they do at any other period. Most mothers look after their children for the first five years of this time and most educators will admit that mothers make the best teachers. (They generally qualify this statement with “if not the only ones” and we would all admit that children learn from their fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents as well.)
“But what did I teach my child?” you ask. Probably the first thing you taught him was to love and trust people. How did you do this? Simply by loving him and his father. You taught him to walk, to talk, to feed and dress himself and to be independent. If you are like most mothers, by the time he was five you had probably taught him to count to ten, colour in and paint, introduced him to money, to the world around him, to many scientific principles, which you don’t even think of as scientific principles, and maybe even taught him the alphabet, to sound letters phonetically or to read.
You may not think that you can teach, but the business world does. You have only to look in supermarkets or open your mail to know that. The proliferation of pre-school books and courses make it obvious that the business world knows that most mothers teach their children and that this is a large market waiting to be cashed in on.
What is it then that God wants me to teach? What is my main job as a parent and why did God create us? God created us for His pleasure and to serve Him. The Greek word used commonly in the New Testament is “dulos” and means to be in bondage or be a slave to Jesus Christ. We are told that we are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37. Deuteronomy 6 then continues, “And these words which I command you this day shall be in thine heart and thou shalt diligently teach them unto thy children….” Afterwards follows a list of where and when to teach them to your children. This amounts to a twenty-four hour a day job.
It appears then that our main job as a parent is to teach our children to love and to serve God. The Scriptures only mention one other place in which this teaching can take place. That is the Church. It is the Church’s responsibility to teach the parents, so they in turn can teach their family. If teaching our children to love the Lord is our main job, can we trust anyone else to do this for us? Surely when God commanded us to do this He knew that we were only parents and that we weren’t qualified.
“What about the children’s education?” you ask. We have already discovered that education is learning and that the most important thing that we learn is to love and serve the Lord.
“But isn’t the academic side of education important too?” you ask. Of course it is, but academics are not the most important thing in our lives. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you.” The word “first” suggest that there are other things in life, but shows clearly our priority.
Why does God want us to have an academic education? Firstly, He wants us to be able understand His Word and secondly he wants us to reach our full potential. God does not believe in wasting anything. You only have to look at nature to see this. It is not possible to reach our full potential without an academic education which will include music, art, physical fitness and different “life preparations”. (By this I do not mean sex education or any of the other “education” the world considers important.)
“I may be a mother but I don’t have a good education. How can I teach my children?” you say. If you are using books that are self-instructional then your children’s learning will not depend on your knowledge. The author of the book will provide the knowledge and you will provide the supervision.
“But what happens if my child has a problem with understanding the work?” I have found that when a child is having difficulty often one of the following reasons will apply: the child did not read the instruction properly, or even read the work at all, the material is not suitable for the child - each child is different - the level is too high.
The child may need a hands on approach at this point or the child is bored and is therefore misbehaving. If the child is having genuine difficulties, the mother will often only need to read the instruction to enable her to go through the work step by step so the child can understand it. In the case of a child who needs to visualise a maths concept, she will be able to show the child with aids, e.g., MAB blocks. I have often not known the subject but have been able to follow the instructions and work it out. Sometimes I need to look at the answer and work backwards to understand. I find that I am learning more and more each year. By the time I have finished homeschooling I will be the best educated mother in our area!
If that doesn’t help and your husband can’t solve the problem (don’t underrate your husband as they are of tremendous help in this area), then most families find that they have a relative or friend who is very willing to help. If all these fail you are no worse off than if your child encountered problems at school. Since homeschooling is often cheaper than schooling you can hire a tutor for a short time. After all higher maths, science and english subjects are only a small part of educating a child.
What do you have going for you? The child is yours. He is totally unique, and so is your family. No-one else in the world can possibly understand this child better than you can? Why is that? You are his mother and you have spent more time with him than anyone else in his life. Even his father hasn’t spent as much time with him. Your child needs a totally unique education because God made him unique. Why then send him to school where he will be treated as though he is the same as everyone else? He isn’t! Only you can develop his unique talents and capabilities. God thinks so. That is why he entrusted you with this particular child.
“But wont he miss out at home?” Of course he will! He’ll miss out on most of the things you want him to miss out on like swearing, peer group pressure, drugs and many of the “…… education” that leaves children feeling lost, depressed and confused.
What he will learn is to be part of a family; to share and do the things that your family is interested in. He is unique remember, so he may not be interested in the things “every other kid” is interested in. Our family enjoys hiking and cycling and we don’t like cricket and football very much. We don’t see that as a disadvantage as we all enjoy these things together and that is what counts. You don’t need to be in a group to learn to work together and share. You learn that naturally in a family, and the larger the family the quicker you learn. Your child will also get a chance to learn leadership skills and, without a word, be trained in how to bring up his own family later on. But you’re only a mother!
“What about socialisation?” What about it? Unless you live on a desert island your child will mix with people of all ages each day. Nor will He have trouble with peer group pressure since it won’t only be his own age group he is mixing with. God created us and placed us in families believing that is the best place for us to be. It is only in the last forty or fifty years, since schools as we know them appeared, that socialising with peers has been considered desirable. Interestingly enough, over the same period the respect for, and acknowledgment of, the wisdom of older people has diminished. We live in a society where the blind lead the blind and being young is everything. Who will we believe knows best? God or our society?
Simply because you are “only a mother” and are at home with the child all the time you will be able to teach him all he needs to know. Homeschooling is a full time, time consuming business and unfortunately housework does not go away because children are there. This means the first thing the child will learn is to help around the home and if the child is a boy, when he marries, his wife will bless you for this. He will never grow up not knowing how to wipe the dishes or open a can of soup. You will give him “on the job” life training.
When you go to the supermarket he will go with you and he will learn the how, what and why of shopping for your family with your budget. There will be no formal lessons. It will just happen naturally. The things we “catch” from our parents are the things we remember the longest. This natural learning was a great blessing to our family when I was ill because I was unable for many months to shop for myself. The children just took over both this and running the family, not an easy job when the youngest was only eighteen months old. If we had not spent so many years together life would have been far more complicated and my husband would not have coped.
As a mother, you will take your children to other places too. While children at school are having lessons about cheque accounts and other banking facilities your children will be having practical lessons. We all have our own ideas, preferences and individual needs in this area and it is far better for a child to learn from their family than from a teacher who may have ideas which the parents do not agree with. One of my children letter boxed pamphlets and through this became very familiar with key-card accounts, monthly statements and weekly payments of wages. Later she learnt about investment accounts.
Your children will see the doctor, dentist, greengrocer and even visit the Medicare office. You can make your own list. Our children, for example, have also spent time in courts seeing how they work, as their father had to attend the Equal Opportunity Board and the Magistrates Court. This resulted in them learning how our justice system operated.
You may also teach your children first aid, cooking, sewing, knitting and pottery. Some of the things that you teach them you will learn one step ahead of them. All this will happen simply because you are a mother and your children are at home with you.
“When I have finished his schooling will he get a job or the training he needs for it?” you ask. If teaching your child is what God requires you to do, and you have trusted Him for years to help you do it, is it really likely that he will let you down at this point? Of course he won’t! Remember Matthew 6:33 says “ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED UNTO YOU”. If God calls your child to be a doctor then He will provide a way for your child to become one. If He doesn’t provide a way then you can know for sure that God did not call him to be a doctor.
My eldest daughter was accepted into Business College, which is now classed as Tertiary Education, simply on the basis of a test they gave her at the time. We were asked if she had completed, not passed, year ten, but at no time were we asked for a piece of paper to prove it. A friend’s son was accepted for a university course after speaking to the Head of the Department.
More than half those entering TAFE or University do not sit the year twelve exam. Most employers ask that you have completed a particular year and then give the applicant a general aptitude test. Teaching your child at home is more likely to be an advantage than a liability. At least they will be able to read and spell. I know of no illiterate long term homeschoolers.
Even though you may be “only a mother” you can homeschool because you are uniquely qualified as only his mother can be. It will be the hardest task that you will face in your life and you’ll have to take every step trusting the Lord to show you the way, read Joshua 1:3-9. The longer you homeschool, the harder it can become in some ways but you will never find a more rewarding job. As you watch your children grow and mature and develop a relationship with Him, you will know the joy of seeing them follow the Lord and be used by Him. When you finally stand before the judgement seat He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and all because you were only a mother.