There are hundreds of books about homeschooling, but only a handful that I turn to time and time again for encouragement. Today I’d like to share with you not literature, but non-fiction: writings that not only remind me personally why I’ve chosen this journey, but also that I’m one of thousands in the trenches of training up children for the glory of God. If you aren’t familiar with these titles, keep your eyes on the lookout at your next homeschooling conference, or treat yourself wherever you buy Christian books.
The Spiritual Power of a Mother
Farris, Michael P. (2003). The Spiritual Power of a Mother. Nashville: Broadman & Holman.
Subtitled “Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom” this collection of essays and speeches by homeschooling pioneer Mike Farris reminds moms of the powerful potential they have to influence their kids. Founder of both HSLDA and Patrick Henry College, Farris describes the sacrificial love of mothers, our responsibility to teach our children about God, and His faithfulness to finish the work he began in them. With chapter titles such as “The Dangerous Myth of the Perfect Homeschool Mom” and “The Hard Days”, he elevates the sacrifices his wife has made as he honestly describes their family’s own homeschooling journey. This book stays on my nightstand, because I can reread a pick-me-up essay in about five minutes, even if I am comatose from a long day of motherhood. And if I just need to smile I reread his “Top Twenty Advantages of Homeschooling” in chapter four.
Home Sweet Homeschool
Maakestad, Sue. (2004). Home Sweet Homeschool: A Survivor’s Guide to Giving Your Kids a Quality Education. Grand Rapids: Revell.
With a Masters in Education I never for a minute questioned my ability to teach my kids at home- but I know the majority of homeschooling moms are assailed with the world’s darts of “What makes you think you’re qualified to teach your kids?” With humor and intelligence, Maakestad shares the truth about just how competent you really are based on common sense, excellent examples from research, and most importantly, the Word of God. Each chapter ends with Scripture nuggets applied to the homeschooling experience, nuggets such as the following:
“Never forget to make use of your great homeschool advantages. Our kids have been given to us so we can present them back their heavenly Father. His image is stamped upon them, and it’s up to us at home to teach them from his Word about their godly heritage and calling- to birth in them a love of him and show them the more excellent way.” (p.102)
And then she shares the following Scripture from Matthew 22:20:
And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Sue Maakestad’s ability to defend the benefits of homeschooling using largely secular research is excellent. Her humor as she describes her own family’s experiences is a blessing, and her counsel wise. She’s the homeschooling friend you wish you could sit down with for a cup of tea or coffee and glean from her intelligent perspective. And you can: just by opening her book.
When You Rise Up
Sproul, R.C. Jr. (2004). When You Rise Up. New Jersey: P & R Publishing.
Don’t pick up this book if you’d rather not be homeschooling, because once you do there will be no going back.
In When You Rise Up R.C. Sproul challenges homeschooling parents to think about the reasons they are homeschooling, and implores them to recognize that the ultimate goal should not be high academic achievement, well-behaved children, or anything else, but of turning their hearts toward God. He even goes so far to say that it isn’t enough to know why we are choosing to instruct our children at home, but that we need to understand the motivation behind the very subjects we choose to teach. As parents we are “to talk to them about God and how he relates to everything” (p.75) and teach our children who God is, what He has done, and what He requires (p.92). This is the book to pick up if you ever find yourself second guessing your decision to educate your children yourself.
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
Chancey, Jennie and McDonald, Stacy. (2007-2009). Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. San Antonio: Vision Forum.
Okay the title is kind of corny, as is the book’s cover. But if, like many homeschooling moms, you are juggling a household of young children, this is a book you want to find. Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald are veteran homeschooling moms, both to very large families. Together they collaborated on a book dispelling the contemporary myths about homemakers, and they did a tremendous job showing feminism for what it really is. The preface alone, encourages using Scripture, what a godly “keeper at home” looks like- and it is beautifully done. Chancey and McDonald know what it’s like to be up all night with little ones, week after week. They know what it’s like to be overwhelmed, to go against the tide of culture, and to struggle with perfectionism. They have learned to embrace their sacred calling and can help young mothers do the same.
So fix yourself something warm to sip, open a book, and be encouraged. God is faithful. He will fulfill His purposes and plans, when you put your trust in Him.