An amazing thing has transpired in our homeschool over the past two years.
It’s something that has been hard fought and well won; it is also something that could only happen with patience and perseverance.
I’m not sure of the most accurate word for it, but I think CLARITY or PEACE are accurate descriptors.
You see, when my children were little I fretted about a lot of homeschool decisions:
Which spelling curriculum should I choose?
Will switching math programs damage my children for the rest of their lives?
Should we teach “writing”, or learn to emulate good writers through copywork and dictation?
Is my child enjoying learning - are we being too “serious”?
Are we doing enough nature study?
Shouldn’t I enroll them in art classes?
Which science curriculum most accurately represents my worldview?
And on and on those decisions/questions went.
I wish I could sit with each of you reading this now and tell you one thing:
Don’t Fret. Eliminate worry from your homeschool life.
As I watched my daughter go through her graduation weekend festivities I was struck so many times by the GOODNESS and FAITHFULNESS of God.
I was struck by my own weakness, and how in the homeschool journey God was STRONG.
Graduating a homeschooler is so much more than completing an educational process. It is surviving a journey, making an investment, and launching a soul into the world.
If I were to travel back 10 years I would tell myself (and now I’m telling YOU) not to fret. I know that there are certain things that will just occur in your homeschool journey. A few (but not all) of these are:
Your Child Will Most Certainly Have “Gaps”
Do you know that we ALL have gaps in our education? It is inevitable.
I believe your children will be drawn to what interests them, and you will be drawn to guide them through their interests. One of my children is more literature and arts minded, and the other is more math and science minded.
I’m not quite sure who defines what children should “know” upon graduation from homeschool, but I want to suggest to you that YOU be the one to define what your children should know.
Sit down and make a list of what is important for your children to know and keep that list front and center.
You Will Make Bad Curriculum Choices
We stopped and started with math with my oldest.
I made a bad choice early on when it came to math. It seemed that we continued to flounder after this because I hadn’t given her that early foundation.
I believe, however, that these bad choices can lead to good - or at the very least to let us know what did NOT work for our children.
My daughter’s math education was redeemed by her online experience with Mr. D Math.
I learned from her early math hiccups what was important about math and decided to stay the course with Saxon Math for my son.
Sometimes There Will Be Not-So-Good Years
I can guarantee you will have a bad homeschool year (or two).
Even in traditional school there will be bad years.
The advantage to a homeschool bad year is that you will learn from it, and that you will go through it WITH your children. There is much to be said from surviving a bad year TOGETHER.
Wouldn’t you rather do that than have your child go through a bad year alone?
For the record, one year we stopped homeschooling at the end of March and didn’t pick back up formally again until August. Oh, we were reading and doing math and taking field trips, but I had run out of energy for the day to day of an organized homeschool. And you know what? We all survived and were renewed and ready when we began again.
There WILL Be Tears
Mama, I want you to embrace those tears. Don’t see them as a sign of weakness.
Homeschooling can be HARD, and sometimes crying is called for. It’s cathartic.
There are days when I’m pretty sure I caused my children to cry - and on those days I asked for forgiveness and a hug. On other days I know my children’s crying was self-inflicted, but this was always a good learning experience.
It’s good to have a family member or friend you can cry to - someone who will just commiserate with you and offer a word of advice.
One of the most valuable things for me has been to have a few friends who pray for and with me. I have a friend who won’t hesitate to stop and pray for me on the phone if she thinks I need it. Search long and hard for these friends. I am so thankful for mine.
You Will Consider Sending Your Child to Traditional School
If you homeschool and NEVER have thoughts of sending your child to school you may need your head examined.
The structure and authority of school looks very good sometimes, not to mention the long stretches of time to be had alone at home. The idea of someone else being the “bad guy” was oh so appealing to me in the middle school years. Certainly my child couldn’t talk back to a teacher?
We have toured two private schools and sat in the parking lot outside of our local public school (there, I told you).
That thought (sometimes THREAT) process always led back to homeschool, and for that I am thankful.
My 2019 Homeschool Graduate
I do, however, know that certain OTHER things will happen in your homeschool journey:
Your Family Will Make Beautiful Memories
My big kids look back on homeschool and have such great memories.
Let me share just a few to encourage you:
reading Robin Hood aloud and then playing “Robin Hood” in our woods for weeks after
sitting around our kitchen table notebooking as I read The Story of the World
taking epic field trips (Volcanoes National Park was our favorite)
picking apples, making apple pie, and reading How To Bake An Apple Pie and See the World
preparing for and executing mock trial - best when the older sibling has done it and is then there cheering the younger sibling on when it’s his turn
dissecting owl pellets (multiple times)
Look how little my cartographers were!
You Will Be An Influencer in Your Child’s Life
You will be the primary influence in your child’s life.
You will be acutely aware of their friendships and can help steer them through difficult situations.
I cannot stress to you how much DRAMA we avoided because my daughter did not attend a traditional school. I hear stories about how mean girls can be and am thankful we avoided that stress. In her most formative years we sheltered her (yes, I said “sheltered”) from that aspect of middle and high school.
This alone might have been reason enough to homeschool.
You Will Cater To Your Child’s Strengths and Interests
This is HUGE.
Our children show interests and strengths from a young age. We have the unique opportunity to cultivate these and see where the road leads.
If it weren’t for homeschooling I’m not sure my daughter would have had the time or exposure to the special needs community she has come to love so much. We designed a for-credit class in her senior year which consisted of her volunteer work, teaching a special needs Sunday School class, and a mentorship.
I’m seeing now that my son has a natural bent towards languages, so he will be taking Spanish and Latin this coming year. He is also showing an interest in architecture, and I am seeking opportunities for him in this area.
As your child discovers what they are (or are not) passionate about, you will start to see homeschool pay off in spades.
Your Children Will Learn To Abandon Group Think
I believe the primary outcome of a public school education is learning to think as a group.
You may not want to hear that, but as I see the out of the box way we have approached education, I believe it.
Once your children do not follow the crowd through public school you will be surprised at the shift in your family’s thinking about other systems we participate in “just because”.
Your Child Will Have Deep Relationships with You and Their Siblings
Probably the best thing I’ve seen through homeschooling is the bond it has fostered in our family.
We’ve gone through a lot of sickness and loss in the past few years, and I have seen my children comfort us and each other.
I’ve watched them act their very best and very worst at home - because home is a safe place.
Recently my daughter and I went on a mother-daughter trip and were gone for a full week. As we pulled in the driveway my son came out to greet us, and my two children chattered up a storm before we had even got in the front door. They were sharing things the other would appreciate from their week. Because they spend so much time together they have had to negotiate a relationship (again, sometimes hard fought).
The mother-daughter homeschooling relationship also required a lot of prayer and hard work. Being around each other so much sometimes made this relationship difficult, but ultimately I am thankful we grew together and served as “holy sandpaper” for each other.
I now see one child that is ready to attend college in the fall. Because God is so gracious, the struggles we have had don’t stand out in my mind. What stands out is the tremendous blessing that homeschool has been in our lives. I guess it’s a lot like childbirth, right?
As I prepare for the last four years with my youngest I feel relaxed and ready for the challenge. I know that no matter what gets thrown our way, we will bob and weave as we have always done, and it will all be OK.
There is great benefit in having the long view of homeschooling.
I hope it’s helped you, too!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Where are you at in your homeschool journey?
What are your concerns at this stage and what are you grateful for at this age?
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