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Making the Most of the Time

Time is very sneaky. A great deal of it can pass without us even noticing. The passage of time is brought to my attention in a very tangible way: by my son's height. While I always knew he was growing, it didn't quite get my attention until recently. He is now taller than I am. While he takes great delight in this fact, it has set off a quiet, yet persistent, alarm in my mind.

I feel as though I am waking up to another of life's realities. What seemed like an endless number of days when we began home schooling eight years ago, now has an ending point on the distant horizon. Of course growth and maturity have always been part of my long term goals for my children. Somehow, however, their beginnings feel like early arrivals at a dinner party. I'm happy to see them, but I'm just not ready yet.

Though these sound like the typical musings of motherhood, there is an important message here for homeschoolers. As scripture says: "so teach us to number our days. that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12. Part of that wisdom is understanding the importance of the time we have been given. While this may sound simple enough, the challenge is two-fold. What perspective should we have on time, and how do we put our time to its best use? Your answers to these questions may revolutionize your view of homeschooling.

First, how should we look at the time we spend carrying out the activities of daily life? I believe the time we have with our families should be viewed as a gift. Granted, some days the work will be hard, the stress great, and the demands high. But in the long run, the opportunity to face these challenges with family members is still an incomparable one.

For homeschoolers, the opportunity is even greater. The sheer volume of time we spend with our children enables us to know them in ways that fleeting encounters between dinner and bedtime cannot permit. We can know their hopes and dreams, their fears and failures, their joys and trials, even the small things like how they tell a joke, or what they do when they're bored. We can have a level of relationship with them that can, and hopefully will, become the foundation of a deep and lasting friendship as they become adults.

As we relate to our children on a spiritual level, we can open our own hearts, allowing them to see our relationship with God, our need for fellowship, and the truth of His word. As they mature, family members become partners in the walk of faith. We encourage one another, and help lighten each other's burdens.

It would be easy to see the days we spend with our children as merely school, with so much to be accomplished, and usually not enough time. Homeschooling is not just a means to getting an education, it is a process of learning and growing for everyone concerned. I'm happy to say that my perceptions of homeschooling and my children have changed over the years. What may have begun as a job to do (and try to do well) has become a way of relating and functioning in our home. I often find myself pleasantly amazed by the things the children say or do. I smile and say to myself, "Remember this." Even the tough times make me aware of their compassion and sensitivity.

Do I sound sentimental? Well, perhaps we all should be. Life doesn't always go the way we plan. Unexpected happenings and sometimes even tragedies can radically alter our existence in a split second. It is wise, therefore, to be grateful for the opportunity to get to know our children in ways that only the daily life of homeschooling allows. Parents whose students will graduate in a few years, may sense a special closeness. Seeing possible changes ahead certainly makes us more keenly aware of what we have today. And one thing we have today is time.

Only God knows what tomorrow will bring, and in His capable hands, we can leave our hopes, dreams and fears about the future.

The second question was "How can we put our time to its best use?" We can do this by realizing the value of the opportunities each day provides. Some days will bring deep discussion with a child about an important subject, while others may give you the chance to watch and enjoy your child's physical abilities. Small things that are shared between only the two of you become as important as large events witnessed by great crowds.

Too often our schedules, activities and homeschooling requirements dominate our thinking and push away the quiet moments we could share with our children. A few years ago, someone shared a piece of wise advice with me that I have tried to practice. This mother told me to try to make it a point each day to talk with each child about something the child likes, is interested in, or is good at. The conversation, no matter how brief, should focus on something we could both talk about positively. Though I have not done this daily, I have had many chats with my children where I learned about what they thought or liked. These conversations are free of instruction from me, (even grammar correction) and they are pleasant breaks from the rigors of ongoing parental training responsibilities. I consider them small deposits in the account of our friendship.

I have noticed that the children now do the same with me. They will begin conversations relating to things they know I like. This imitation is especially gratifying because it means they are learning to invest in relationships as well. Small as this may be, it represents an attempt to be truly interested in the needs and feelings of another person.

Having children to homeschool is a gift. Getting to know our children is a privilege. Having the time to do this is an opportunity. Let's remember to schedule time for one of the most important things we can do as homeschoolers - enjoy and appreciate our children.

Bless the Lord, 0 my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit; who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion
Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalm 103: 1-5

This article is reprinted with permission of the author, Debbie Strayer. Visit to find out more about other available materials by Debbie Strayer.

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