I had heard several other homeschooling moms praise Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (Classical Academic Press )by Sarah Mackenzie. When I recently had the opportunity to read it myself, I was not disappointed. This is a homeschool classic in the making.
“The work of homeschooling and raising hearts and souls and bodies is hard.” None of us can homeschool without God’s help. Mackenzie is a homeschooling mother of six, the oldest of whom was eleven when she was writing this book. She shares that “this book sprang from an insatiable thirst for the unshakable peace that God promises those who follow Him.”
Mackenzie emphasizes relationship before the academic component of homeschooling, both our relationship with God and our relationship with our children. While she has high standards for academics, she doesn’t feel that they should be achieved at the cost of things that are more important. “People rank infinitely higher on the list.” She emphasizes that we need to trust God. “I can’t teach from rest unless I trust Him with my kids’ education. . . .unshakable peace is not tied to my success at all. It’s tied to faithfulness.” In order to be faithful, we need to make prayer a priority and offer up all our daily efforts to God.
She offers practical suggestions for destressing your homeschool. Those who adhere to a school-at-home philosophy or who use an all-encompassing boxed curriculum will probably not find her suggestions worthwhile while those at the other end of the homeschooling spectrum might find her ideas a bit too rigid, but eclectic and relaxed homeschoolers of all stripes will find wisdom and encouragement in these pages. One might not want to incorporate all of her methods, but they might challenge you to make small changes in how you approach homeschooling.
Mackenzie also tackles care for homeschooling moms. We moms in the tranches need to feed our own souls as well and she offers suggestions on how to do that even amidst the busyness of family life.
Mackenzie hasn’t reached the teen or young adult years yet which provide a whole new dimension to homeschooling life. It’s easier to wax poetic about not caring about a child failing when you don’t have a child approaching adulthood who is actually struggling. It’s hard to trust in God when you truly feel that you have failed, that despite your best efforts and all your prayers, the outcome hasn’t turned out anything like you hoped. Homeschooling offers no guarantees, but those of us who walk the hard road do well to trust in God, even when it feels He is nowhere to be found. Mackenzie looks to St. Monica for inspiration. “If Monica had judged the success or failure of her mothering based on her son’s [the future St. Augustine] behavior at age twenty, she would have considered herself a failure.” As a mother, I imagine she probably did. We need to remember that God is still there even when we feel abandoned and that the project isn’t done until He says it is done. God always has the last word.
Teaching from Rest is a short book, less than 100 pages, but it is an important contribution to homeschooling literature, especially for Catholic moms. Additional companion materials are available at Classical Academic Press.