Joy in Homeschooling and Toddler Tantrums: 4 Moms Q&A

moms of many manageJennifer explains that, for a variety of reasons, they did not accomplish what they’d hoped during their last year of homeschooling and then she asks this question,

“How do you go about regaining the joy of homeschooling and regaining your footing when you’re at the bottom of the hill”

I remember one time in particular when I felt overwhelmed and unable to keep up with everything that God had brought into my life. It seemed that we weren’t getting anything done in the way of ‘school’ work and I was afraid our children would be hurt because of this lack. When I came to Mark  his response was, “Are you teaching our children to love the Lord Jesus with their whole heart, soul, mind and strength every single day?”

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. ~Matthew 6:33

Kevin Swanson, founder of Generations with Vision, executive director of  Christian Home Educators of Colorado, and author of several books, once told us that Matthew 6:33 is his response to people who ask how they should guide their homeschooled child who wants to be a ____fill_in_the_blank____. He said that often their response is, “No, but I mean what courses should I be teaching, etc.” and He responds that God’s Word is true and that “all these things” includes our child’s education.

Here, I think, is the key: we have far too high an opinion of ourselves. We think that our task must be more complex than “seek first the kingdom of God”. Certainly God requires us to do more than simply teach our children to fear, love and serve the Lord.

With what shall I come before the Lord, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? ~Micah 6:6-8

The world (and most homeschooling Christians) have all sorts of standards that are much ‘higher’ and more complex than seeking the kingdom of God and teaching children to fear the Lord.

 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence. ~1 Cor. 1:25-29

We are constantly trying to outsmart God.

I’ve read them and I’m sure you’ve read them too, articles about how thus-and-such an educational system is ‘the biblical’ way to educate your children, how Christians need to read __insert book or book list here___ (and that book listed is VERY rarely the Bible) so they or their children will be equipped to face the challenges of our current culture. I’ve personally been told that if  our family didn’t follow a certain educational method then our children would not be prepared to be in positions of leadership.

So how do you regain the joy of homeschooling?

Make a decision.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~Thess. 5:16-18

Seek His kingdom. We can’t expect “all these things” if we aren’t seeking His kingdom. Seeking His kingdom is living for Him.

But for  the searching and right understanding of the Scriptures there is need of a good life and a pure soul, and for Christian virtue to guide the mind to grasp, so far as human nature can, the truth concerning God the Word. One cannot possibly understand the teaching of the saints unless one has a pure mind and is trying to imitate their life. Anyone who wants to look at sunlight naturally wipes his eye clear first, in order to make, at any rate, some approximation to the purity of that on which he looks; and a person wishing to see a city or country goes to the place in order to do so. Similarly, anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds. Thus united to them in the fellowship of life, he will both understand the things revealed to them by God and, thenceforth escaping the peril that threatens sinners in the judgment, will receive that which is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven. Of that reward it is written: “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared” for them that live a godly life and love the God and Father in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom and with Whom be to the Father Himself, with the Son Himself, in the Holy Spirit, honor and might and glory to ages of ages. Amen. ~Athanasius “The Incarnation

Remember the amazing blessing that God has given you by entrusting you with His children to raise for His glory and spend each day teaching and training them to love Him. Invest in your relationship with them, spend time with them, talk with them, love them.

Trust Him. Since He has given you the task of helping to prepare His children for the purpose that He has specifically created them to fulfill, know that He will accomplish just that. He will guide and direct. He will open doors and make them evident

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ ~Phillipians 1:6

The books are just books. He is the one who is ultimately equipping these children for His glory. If this is true then we’re never really ‘at the bottom of the hill’ or ‘behind’. We are always right where God wants us to be.

Michelle asked,

“How do you handle toddler tantrums?”

I’m going to define a “toddler tantrum” as a child physically hitting or kicking an authority figure or a child yelling, screaming, saying ‘no’, throwing themselves on the floor or otherwise obviously rebelling against someone in authority.  I would not say that a child crying (not screaming) because they are sad, tired, hungry, etc. is a tantrum. I also would not say that children squabbling/fighting amongst themselves is a tantrum.

With this definition, I’m not a good one to ask as we’ve only experienced a handful of toddler tantrums in our years of parenting and two of them occurred just recently with one of our foster kids.

Rabbit trail: Those precious, sweet foster kids (age 3 and 4) lived with us for a little over a month and during that time we had the opportunity to observe them with their mom a few times and we saw behavior from them when they were with her that we did not see while they were living with us.

The interesting thing is that the things they did while with her were things that we didn’t even deal with. I don’t think it occurred to them to behave that way in our home. Also, we very rarely (perhaps once a week) had to use time-out, the only form of punishment we used for them. By God’s grace, those kids were obedient, respectful, sweet and a joy to be around. Please expect a lot of your children because they will often live up (or down) to what is expected of them.

My guess as to why we’ve not seen many tantrums is because we don’t tolerate the things that lead up to tantrums so it rarely, if ever, gets that far. [Mark and I remember one time when one of our kids threw a tantrum. (Threw herself on the floor screaming.) She was less than a year old. Can you say firecracker?]

I believe that you can almost always see a child’s heart turning away from you WAY before they get to the stage where they will actually throw a tantrum. They begin to obey slowly or obey with a poor attitude. They don’t quickly, repent and turn from their sin. They don’t look you in the face or really demonstrate love to you. There are a lot of signs and only you, as the parents, will know whether or not you have your child’s heart.

I have not read this site in years, so don’t know (or necessarily support) what all is recommended on these pages, but I  know the idea of tomato staking as proposed here drastically influenced our parenting style.

We keep our children close to us guiding and correcting them ALL. THE. TIME.  We rarely leave them with babysitters (even now, when we have several teenagers to babysit, I still will head to OB appointments, etc. with 5-7 of the youngest children). We take our children (all of them most of the time) with us when we go grocery shopping, pick out new furniture, purchase seeds, run errands, etc.

In my opinion, this is win/win. We LIKE to be with our children. Our children LIKE to be with us. And as a result of being together all the time, we all learn how to get along (kids learn to behave in a huge variety of social settings and parents learn how to manage children in all sorts of places and events) and we are building relationships!


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11 Responses to Joy in Homeschooling and Toddler Tantrums: 4 Moms Q&A
  1. Lori H.
    June 27, 2013 | 5:45 pm

    I have to respectfully disagree with this. It seems you are stating that if a child has a tantrum, then the parents don’t “have the heart of the child.” Please consider that the child also might have sensory issues or have autism. I guarantee you that what you say is not the case for everyone and perhaps not even most children and parents. And how you describe your foster children as loving and obedient is not the case with most foster children and not the case with most adopted children. Many adopted children and foster children have attachment issues, some as severe as reactive attachment disorder. In the case of attachment issues, you could correctly say that the parent doesn’t have the child’s heart, but that is not because the adoptive parent or foster parent is not trying. It is because the child came to them damaged and they are trying to be vessels of love to the child and love is very scary to a child with attachment issues.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I agree with you that this would not apply to children who have certain medical conditions or who have a history of neglect or abuse.

    I would hope that anyone who has a child with these issues would keep that in mind whenever they read anything offered from someone who isn’t familiar with their child’s particular challenges and not assume that advice for typical children is meant to be applied to those with special circumstances without every blogger, author, commentator, etc. having to specify that this advice doesn’t apply to all children or all situations.

    Of course, no one is blaming people who are parenting children who have endured trauma and now have attachment issues for not having their child’s heart. My encouragement is for all of us to work and strive toward having the hearts of our children because the Scriptures command it.

    As far as our experience with the foster kids, they rose to what we expected of them. I’m certainly not claiming that a typical foster child is obedient and cheerful I’m just sharing our experience.


  2. Annie
    June 27, 2013 | 6:23 pm

    I believe finding joy in homeschool has a lot to do with ones vision. If I remain firm on the belief that above all else my desire is to teach my children to love The Lord with all their heart,soul, mind, and strength then no matter what season of life we as a family walk through, my children will be blessed in the end.
    I can say from expience that I did not have joy in homeschooling my children in the first couple years because my perspective was not an eternal one. Oh I wanted to teach my children about The Lord but I failed to make it the number one priority and It may have looked like that way to others but deep down I made idols out of othe things and I struggled immensely with feelings of doubt, inadequacy and failure as I tried to teach a child with some profound learning differences. After while I remember crying out the God saying Lord if you help me, if you don’t interviene I fear I will fail my child! I didn’t have an eternal perspective- I didn’t ask The Lord what his will for our homeschool should be, what his desire for me as my child’s mother and teacher was. I did it all in my own strength and pride and once I finally hit that brick wall with my child, when everything, or what seemed to be everything, stopped working for my son, is when I finally released it all to Him. In my pride I had to get to the point of pure helplessness in order for The Lord to get through to me. How foolish of me!
    Now, fast forward a couple years and things have been drastically different in the way we all learn together. We still have moments, yes we still struggle but I am not looking around for my answers or looking at myself or blogs or fancy curriculums but to Christ. He has given us everything we need- yes even the ability to teach our children and even when it seems to derail by 10 am, to cry out to him ovr and over again and seek grace to carry on. That is what having joy in our homeschooling has been to us. I pray The Lord will give you His grace to find true joy in delighting in this season of life!


  3. Rachel
    June 27, 2013 | 8:02 pm

    Thank you for this beautifully written reminder to seek first His Kingdom! How often I lose sight of what should be my first priority when teaching my children.

    What do you suggest for the mom with a husband who does not share this same goal? I’m guessing I’m not the only one with a Christian husband who thinks the children are constantly “behind” or not learning what they “should” be learning.


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    My best suggestion is to honor and respect your husband’s wishes.

    Leave the rest to the Lord who knows what your children need better than you or I, perhaps they will need more of a focus on that academic aspect of things and this is His way for you to equip them as you seek His kingdom by honoring your husband.


  4. Aimee
    June 27, 2013 | 9:43 pm

    Thank you for your post. I believe the Holy Spirit was using you to speak to my heart.


  5. Carrie
    June 28, 2013 | 8:49 pm

    Thank you so much for this encouragement to focus on the main thing. I really needed that.


  6. Katie J.
    June 30, 2013 | 11:28 am

    I rarely comment on any blog because I am very busy with my six little ones (the oldest is 8). However, I just had to take the time to tell you that I appreciated this post extra much. What excellent thoughts–all of them. I want to spend more time working with my children, with them right there beside me. Thank you for sharing. You inspire me!


  7. Rachel
    July 1, 2013 | 8:24 pm

    I always find your posts quite encouraging, I am marking this one to read again once we embark on our official homeschool journey.


  8. Amy
    July 3, 2013 | 1:11 pm

    Hi there, I’ve read your blog for a bit off and on and this one stuck with me when I read it the other day. First I just liked that you distinguished tantrums from other crying. Second I like your reasoning for why you don’t experience tantrums. We have only had a couple ever (out of our two young boys, or the 9 foster children who have been part of our family, mostly toddlers, some known for their tantrums and/or diagnosed with ODD, autism, one non-verbal, attachment problems, things that you would normally expect some tantrums with and these children). People often tell me I’m “lucky” or something that we haven’t experienced tantrums or that my foster children were just “honey-mooning” or whatever and I have kind of just accepted it. But we do live a bit like you are describing, we actually like to be with our children and we try to watch out for the things that would lead to a tantrum. It really does seem to work.

    I love hearing about your fostering, by the way 🙂


  9. Nicki
    August 4, 2013 | 11:41 pm

    Amen! to all of it!


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