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My word for the year is rest, so I thought it would be appropriate to apply that to my homeschool as well. Sarah Mackenzie’s book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, is a balm to the weary homeschool mama’s soul. Sarah states in the preface, “This book sprang from an insatiable thirst for the unshakable peace that God promises those who follow Him….The most important thing a homeschooling mother can do is to teach from a state of rest.”
Part One: Whose “Well Done” Are You Working For? begins with what she means by “rest”. Rest begins with surrendering to God our homeschool, our children, our home. When we surrender our own ideas and ideals of what we want our day to look like and instead give it all to God and allow Him to dictate the direction our day takes, we can rest in knowing that it is all going according to plan. As Sarah says, “Unshakeable peace is not tied to my success at all. It’s tied to faithfulness….Faithfulness is showing up every day to do the work He has called us to.” Whatever the task before us, we should apply ourselves totally to doing that one thing faithfully and diligently. On our own strength and intelligence, we are not enough, but by God’s grace, we bring what we have and He uses that to fulfill His will. Sarah encourages us to first give our day, to-do-list, everything, to God.
The next section, Part Two: Curriculum Is Not Something You Buy, caused a paradigm shift in my life. “Curriculum” does not comprise the books, videos, manipulatives, etc. that first comes to mind. These are simply the tools we use. No, the curriculum is actually what it is that we hope to accomplish. Curriculum, “is the form and content of our children’s learning experiences.” Instead of focusing on getting through the book, we should change our focus to mastering the material. We do this by simplifying our curriculum and Sarah gives us five ways to accomplish this: do less, integrate, understand the limitations of published resources, bake in review time, and remember the point. She also explains five ways to simplify the schedule: start with a time budget, insist on margin, break out of the mold, begin a habit of morning time, and remember whose time you’re on. Sarah challenges homeschool moms to ask, “What if, instead of trying to make the most of our time, we worked harder at savoring it? What if we were more intentional and lavish with our time and more detached from our checklists?” She ends Part Two with this: Today, do less. Do it well.
Sarah concludes her book in Part Three: Be Who You Are! “A peaceful and happy mother is the real key to successful homeschooling,” she tells us. “To become peaceful and happy, you’ve got to figure out what’s true about you.” She then reveals the crux of the whole matter, “Rest, then, is not the absence of work or toil. It is the absence of anxiety or frenzy.” After discovering the truth about ourselves, Sarah invites us to discover the truth about our children and what the whole point of homeschooling is for. (Hint: it’s not about the test scores!) Finally, she outlines several ways we can fill up our own minds so we can pour out to our children.
Teaching from Rest is a short read but is packed full of actual help, not just lofty platitudes. Sarah is honest of her own shortcomings while also realizing that peace in the homeschool is a worthy and attainable goal. If you only read one homeschooling book this year, this should be it.