A Unique Perspective

Today's post is written by my dear friend, Cheryl.   Cheryl is special to me for many reasons.  I value her friendship because she is always supportive of me; she just GETS why I put my heart and soul into homeschooling.    We are members of the same church (and also the ONLY two homeschooling moms in our church!).   One of Cheryl's daughters and Miss B are great friends.   You get the picture.  

Cheryl has been homeschooling her second grade daughter for the past 8 months while her three older children are in private school.   I think Cheryl has a unique perspective to offer, and I admire the thought she and her husband have put into their children's education.

Too often as homeschoolers we think that our way of education is the ONLY way.   I wanted Cheryl to share her experience with you.   Enjoy!  

Cheryl's Beautiful Family

Huge thanks to Mary for asking me to write a guest post today.  Sometimes I blog over here but it has been a while, as life always seems to get in the way!

I homeschool.  Five years ago the thought of saying that was so radical that I couldn’t make the leap.  My two older children, both boys, were in a large public elementary school and we were all miserable.  We prayerfully considered our options and chose a small private school that was both K-12 and Christian in its worldview.  I thought about homeschooling but neither my husband nor I could go “that far.” I also had two more children at home (we had four in five years), the idea of that intense togetherness just made me want to cry.  I thought I couldn’t do it.

Fast forward four years.  My children have done so well, thriving in the small, personal environment.  But my youngest just seemed to need something more after her first grade year—more attention?  More Mom time? More alone time (she is surprisingly introverted)? Something…and we found ourselves in a position to offer it.  We decided to keep D at home for her second grade year.

We became a split family—a little private school, a little homeschool.  It can definitely be done, but I think it requires more flexibility than being “all in” with either private school or homeschool. Here are a few observations after seven months:

I’m glad I can meet each of my children where they are.  Homeschool has been excellent for D, and I’m glad I could choose it.  Right now, our well-chosen school is a great environment for one of my older boys.  My other two would probably thrive in either environment.

I love that I’ve gotten to know my homeschooled child so well.  know her.  She has become my sidekick in some ways.  I know what makes her happy, how she learns, what she likes to read.

We’ve had to focus on home.  Until last spring I owned a business that really claimed my attention.  While I didn’t sell my shop so that I could homeschool, I did sell it to focus on our home more.  Homeschooling has required me to stop and focus on the relationships in our home, not just whether my closets are messy (which they are!).

My little homeschooler has blossomed this year.  She is a child who doesn’t need a ton of friends, and she has just a few very good ones this year.  Last year, even in our little school, we seemed to have a problem with—not bullying, exactly, more like a steady stream of criticism from some of the other little girls.  Nothing that I could put my finger on.  Maybe it is just that she needs more alone time than she got going to school. But she was always our “Sunshine,” and she had faded.  Sunshine is back.

But it is hard, so hard, being split:

It is nearly impossible to continue my homeschooler’s lessons once the other kids are home.  No, it IS impossible.  If we are going to do it, it has to get done before 2:45. And this little one likes to sleep in.  Add in the errands we try to get done, and sometimes we are a little short on time.  No wonder my closets are still messy! And the blissful, “always learning” atmosphere that somehow I think exists in all homeschools doesn’t exist here!

Jealousy.  Her siblings are jealous of her sleeping in and of all the attention she gets from Mom.  (Yes, even my middle-schoolers want Mom time, thankfully.) And I’ve chosen a great curriculum for history and English, and they are jealous of all of her interesting lessons!  I certainly look with envy at the moms who drop off their kids and get to do a morning Bible study.  I used to do that and I can’t begin to describe how much I miss it.  (On-line is NOT a substitute for me.)  And going to lunch, and shopping, volunteering at school, and…

The flexible homeschooler’s schedule?  We don’t have it, since we’re tied to a school! 

Guilt.  Yes, I know that as a parent (and a Lutheran!) guilt is par for the course.  But this is a particular, sharp guilt that says that I didn’t do the best thing for each of my kids when they needed it.  I have excuses, of course, but the truth is this:  each one of my children would have benefitted from this one-on-one, individual education, even if only for a year or two.  I regret terribly that I did not—could not—homeschool each of my children.  I know this youngest one in a way I don’t know the others, and it makes me so sad.  The years slip by incredibly fast. 

One of the hardest parts of deciding to homeschool was deciding to treat one of my kids differently than the others.  Four children born within five years made my husband and me look at them as “the gang,” not as four little individuals.  But really considering what each one needed led us to this decision to homeschool only one.  It has been hard to break up “the gang,” but the ability to meet each one where they are has been worth the inconvenience.

If you read Mary’s blog because you are thinking of homeschooling, my advice is to do it.  For a year or two or twelve, it is worth doing. You will know your child in a way that you can’t in any other way, and your child will know you and her world in a way that she won’t get elsewhere, either.  Homeschooling doesn’t have to be rocket science (but it can be if you want, lol), but the time is a gift from God and needs to be treasured.

Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your heart and experiences with us.  If you'd like to leave Cheryl a comment, feel free to do so!  You can also visit her blog, The View from 302.