Winter is an underappreciated season. Many people see the landscape as barren, uninviting, and gloomy. I had a friend once describe winter as the “dead season”! I disagree. For me, winter is a season of gathering strength, building promise, and preparation for a new “bursting forth” that is all but guaranteed by the coming of spring. Without the pregnant dormancy of winter, there could not be a vibrant spring. Sometimes homeschooling is like that.
How easy it is to sustain our enthusiasm for homeschooling when new insights burst seemingly full-grown from our students like the first crocus of spring. How satisfying to watch an idea come to full understanding like a daffodil that finally opens after swelling in promise for a week. As parents fully engaged in educating our children, we rejoice to see the seeds we plant begin to sprout and produce the grace and beauty we are cultivating. How exhilarating it is! The “flowers” make us forget the hard work of preparing the soil, sowing the seeds, removing the weeds, and watering the field. Easily forgotten, too, is the season of waiting.
Sometimes, as homeschooling parents, we feel as though we are just “pushing through”; we do not see much progress in our students and we do not feel we have much to show for our hard work. It seems as if nothing at all is happening any more. In this “winter” season it is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to begin to wonder (especially if this is your first “winter”!) whether the vibrant season of learning and growing will return. We can even despise the dormant time as wasted time, when it appears that nothing much is being accomplished. But, we are wrong! Spring does not return without the hidden preparation of winter.
What appears in nature to be a dead time is really a resting time. The earth is regrouping—gathering strength for the next growing season and preparing to once again break forth in beauty and bounty. Our students are likewise preparing for new insights; new skills are being readied. Ideas—like flower bulbs that must “winter over”—are maturing away from the light, getting ready for the flowering of a deeper understanding and the revelation of truth. Similarly, skills that have been introduced, but have revealed a disappointing lack of growth, are awaiting the right time to emerge. The new thoughts and information so carefully planted earlier are on the edge of exploding into sight. They will emerge at the appropriate time full of beauty and truth.
The Lord of Creation has ordained that spring be preceded by winter. The Master Teacher has designed times of learning to be preceded by times of preparation. Let us embrace His plan and find rest, peace, and hope in it.