Homeschooling is a pretty hot topic these days and maybe even a little trendy. This could be due to the images people conjure up in their minds when they read posts from the “perfect” homeschool moms- perfect, peaceful, compliant kids who will graduate 3 years early and thank their parents for all of their sacrificing. This is a fairy tale and never will exist. But people are curious anyway and I know this because when they hope no one else is listening, they ask me A LOT of questions.
As a homeschooling mom entering our fifth year, I can’t give you any advice because I’m not sure that I know much more about it now than I did when we started. What I can tell you about however is our ups and downs, failures and successes, joys and challenges, hopes and fears.
I did not have the desire to homeschool from the beginning, as in from the time my first child was born. Some people seem to just know it, but I didn’t. My husband and I were always looking into alternative types of education but homeschooling was never one of them. My oldest attended Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade at the school where I was teaching. To make a long story really short I will just say that there were some learning issues for her that only I seemed to be noticing, so there was no diagnoses or help. I knew something had to change because a bright girl was going to turn into someone who hated school and lose her love of learning.
After these few years of traditional school, I felt another need. I was inclined to interview every other parent with this question, “ Does it feel completely unnatural to drop your child off for seven hours, five times a week with people you really don’t know that well?” This is not an accusatory question. If anything, I felt admiration for parents who seemed to do this without difficulty or concern. It felt mournful to me, like we were losing her childhood and it magnified the fact that I had already gotten the biggest chunk of time with my child I would ever get, barring summer, and I would never get it again.
So I prayed and as usual, God’s plans were not at all like my own. When He began planting the seed of homeschooling in my heart it was terrifying because we then had a toddler at home (what to do with one of those while trying to educate another, well that is a whole other article). Add to that the fact that I was an art teacher and had not taught anyone to read, write or spell in my life. But God was asking me to make my kids the guinea pigs while giving up a job I truly enjoyed. Because I am stubborn and have chosen my own ways over God’s before (this doesn’t ever go well in case you are wondering), I realized it would be a horrible mistake not to submit to His will.
For the very reason of God making it clear it was His desire, I will be the first person to discourage a parent who is thinking of homeschooling. So many people seem to be upset with the school/education system for one reason or another and want to yank their kids out. If this is why you are considering homeschooling, I warn you, do not do it. Besides parenting in general, homeschooling is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I am selfish. I want time alone. I can be impatient. I hate math. Need I go on? But the one and only reason I continue, and am able to continue, is because God continues to confirm this as His path for us. It looks a lot different than the path of education most families take. It has also changed our family dynamics in ways I never imagined possible, but I will get into that at a later time. If you do not feel a specific calling to homeschool your kids then I do not recommend it. That fiery feeling of discontent or anger for whatever you are unhappy with about your child’s education will not be enough to fuel your fire everyday to get up and teach your children. It gets old fast. If you know, however, that God is urging you to homeschool despite the fact that you are worried you may physically or emotionally harm your children after so much time together, consider it anyway. Trust God to give you the patience and knowledge that your kids will require. Trust that His plan is best for you and your family. Trust that all the unknowns will be answered and that you can pray your way through anything. Trust that this is not about taking your children away from anything or protecting them from the world, but that you are their parent and with God’s help, can provide them with something that no one else can.