I have the best calling in the whole church. I get to have all the enjoyment of being with the cute primary kids without the responsibility of keeping little bodies reverent during the painful third hour of church. I am the primary pianist.
My favorite part of this calling is listening to the kids sing from the Children's Songbook. In my life I have felt the love of God and received messages from his Holy Spirit more clearly through those simple songs than in any other way.
So, it shouldn't have surprised me as I sat behind the piano last Sunday when a homeschool problem I needed divine help with was answered through a simple children’s song. I've been thinking since then about the messages that the Children’s Songbook has for homeschoolers, and I have found so many! Let me share some of my favorites.
Teach Me to Walk in the Light (#177)
This song has plenty that applies to teaching our children, but the second verse popped out to me this time. “Come little child and together we’ll learn.” A common reason parents are afraid to homeschool is they don’t think they know enough or don’t feel qualified to teach. But homeschooling (and Earth life) is not about becoming an expert before you begin. It is about learning and growing as a family. I think my oldest was smarter than me before he was five, but that doesn't mean I can’t be his teacher. It doesn't matter if you never learned to diagram a sentence or completely failed algebra. When you homeschool you learn and grow together (and find yourself motivated like never before to conquer algebra).
You Don't Have to Push a Handcart (#218)
The song says, “You don’t have to push a handcart to be a pioneer...You DO have to have great courage, and faith to conquer fear. And work with might for a cause that’s right, to be a pioneer.” Although, in recent years homeschooling seems to be more widely accepted and less “weird”, many of us are exploring a completely new lifestyle with homeschooling. It can be difficult and there may be family or social opposition. I receive the most opposition from my own self doubts. But pioneering through the tough spots is homeschool at its best. I can’t count the times that things have gotten hard and I have wanted to give up on this crazy idea of teaching my own kids. But it never fails, after the rocky parts come the beautiful vistas of success and I am glad I didn't give up. I’m hoping that my children will be able to learn from my mistakes and can be better teachers to their children because of the path I've paved for them as a homeschool pioneer.
Search Ponder and Pray (#109)
The first thing every homeschooler does after deciding to homeschool is fret about what curriculum to use. There are thousands of options, which is what I love (and hate) about homeschooling. Sorting through the endless possibilities can be daunting. A homeschool mentor of mine asked me (after I had read every book I could find on choosing curriculum) if I had prayed for help yet. Embarrassed I said, “I hadn't thought of that!” I think I was worried about coming to the Lord with small decisions. But I’ve since learned that the Lord can guide us to help his children. He does care about the little details that are important to us, because teaching His children is important to Him. It’s good to read and study and search curriculum and philosophy so the Lord can guide us to the materials that will help our kids. “The Spirit will guide.”
Every Star is Different (#142)
This sweet primary song reminds us that everyone is unique. It says “Everyone is needed for just what he can do. You’re the only person who ever can be you.” There is no one way to homeschool. There are as many different ways as there are families who do it. Homeschool is constant trial and error. Learning what works for you and your children will take time. I often stress because I am not as consistent and structured as some successful mom’s I know. But one friend said to me she wished she could be spontaneous like me. We all have our strengths. Homeschooling brings out our weaknesses, to be sure, but it also helps us grow. Co-ops are a great way to team up with other homeschoolers and benefit from one another’s strengths and interests.
I'm Trying to be Like Jesus (#78)
Jesus loved the little children. He made time for them. He blessed them. And he taught them. We can try to be like Jesus by following in His ways. We can learn from Jesus, the master teacher, as we embark on our journey of becoming educators to our families. We can study the lessons he taught and learn to teach with love and simplicity as he did. We can learn from his example how to teach to multiple levels at once through the use of stories and questioning. Best of all we can learn to be “gentle and loving in deed and in thought” and prepare as a family for the “day of gladness when Jesus comes again.”
I’m SO Glad When Daddy Comes Home! (#210)
Thankfully I have a spouse who is able to provide so that I can be home to teach my kids. But there are days when I have had just a little TOO much togetherness and “I’m so glad when daddy comes home” so I can hide in the closet and rock in the fetal position while the little darlings suck the life out of a fresh adult. Phew! If you don’t have a spouse to share the load, be extra careful about arranging time for yourself to regroup. Trading babysitting with a friend, asking a visiting teacher for help, or finding a hobby you can use to “escape” are great ways to renew yourself so you do not burn out.
I’m all Made of Hinges (#277)
“But we have to have hinges or else we will, crack!” Homeschoolers have to learn to be flexible. Don’t stress if things don’t work out as planned. I think as a general rule things don’t work out as planned in our homeschool. Certain times and phases of life will require different kinds of schooling. People get sick, appointments come up, life happens. It’s okay to coast when you need to and roll with life’s punches when family trials throw off your groove.
Saturday is a Special Day (#196)
I can have a clean house or be a nice mom. But not both. It has taken me several years of reconditioning to learn to “close one eye” to messes. By lowering my expectations for the daily state of the house, my homeschool efforts are much more successful. We pick up a bit throughout the week, but we save the big chores for Saturday mornings and put our house back together. Then we can have a peaceful Sunday and are ready to tear it up again Monday. (Visit us on a Friday at your own risk!)
If You Chance to Meet a Frown (#267)
Even though homeschool is the most fun, and you will have the time of your life, some days just stink. And homeschooling can get intense. There is wisdom in the words “If you chance to meet a frown, do not let it stay. Quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away.” The only attitude we can change is our own, but smiles are contagious and bring light and happiness; and where there is light, darkness cannot exist. Even if we don’t feel like smiling we can turn a bad day right by finding the humor in it and counting our blessings. We will “make the world a better place by smiling all the while.”
I am a Child of God (#2)
Despite my best efforts I always fall short of what I think my family needs or deserves. I find comfort in the very first song in the Children’s Songbook. It says, “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home...” God is my father and he gave me the chance to come to earth and have a family. He will lead me and guide me. He will walk beside and me and help me find the way to teach the special Spirits He has entrusted to my care.
Along with the sweet children’s voices, I will be listening carefully to the Still Small Voice as I sit behind the piano in Primary this Sunday. I am sure there are many more messages that await in that little blue book for me.