Mama, Don't Fret - Here's the "Long View" of Homeschool

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.

Mama, Don’t Fret… Here’s the “Long View” of #Homeschooling

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.

(Here are 5 Ways You Can Encourage a Fellow Homeschool Mom)

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.

Mama, Don’t Fret - Here’s the “Long View” of Homeschool

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)

  • spending hours tracing maps and playing The Scrambled States

Mama, Don’t Fret: Here’s the Long View of “Homeschooling”

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?

You might also like:

25 Benefits of Homeschooling Your Teen

Stop Telling Me Why You Can’t Homeschool High School

From School to Home: Our Story (Part 3: Big Kids)

Homeschooling big kids is a totally different ball of wax.

Those magical, sweet years of homeschooling littles (see Part One of our story) gave our family so many precious memories. The initial years of homeschooling instilled a love of learning and a deep sense of family in ALL of us.

After we had made the decision to homeschool the kids we then enjoyed several years of Interest Led Learning, Charlotte Mason’s principles, and a spirit of truth, beauty and goodness. (see Part Two of our story)

Life is just so predictable, though. Right when we begin to get the hang of something - to find the groove - things must change. I’m convinced this is God’s way to keep us growing and drawing closer to Him.

When my oldest got close to seventh grade I knew something needed to change. It was at this point that I can look back and see a dramatic shift in our homeschool - not better or worse - just different.

We needed the shift.

From School to Home: Our Story (Part 3: Big Kids) #homeschool

The Appeal of Classical Education

I had always tried to keep current with research about homeschooling. After reading The Well Trained Mind, I had implemented pieces of Classical Education in our homeschool. I knew that even more Classical elements would be a good fit for my youngest.

Grant was a collector of facts. He loved good books. We had been going down a very structured math route with him. I knew that Classical homeschooling would probably be a very good match for him. He was smack in the middle of the grammar stage.

At the same time, I thought that my oldest (Anna) could benefit from a lot of what I was reading about the dialectic stage.

Classical Conversations

A friend of mine introduced us to Classical Conversations. From everything I could tell it seemed this community approach would be the perfect thing for my then second grader.

My daughter was just the perfect age for the Challenge program, so I enrolled her in Challenge A. (equivalent to 7th grade)

(What I didn’t realize, and what I desperately wish I would have known at the time was that it was very hard to succeed in the Challenge program without the prior foundational experiences. I know children have done this, but I do think we do our middle schoolers a disservice when we expect them to jump into Classical education at the age of 12 or 13. It seems a bit like asking a child to bake their own cake without a recipe when they have never baked before and don’t possess the knowledge of what the ingredients are and how they work together.)

My daughter’s experience in Challenge A was much different than my son’s - I think this is because my son had 4 years preparation for Challenge A and my daughter had NONE.

Another observation: Classical Conversations communities vary widely.

My experience was entirely different based on the two communities we attended. I have heard different experiences from friends in other areas. Visit your local community to see if it is a fit for you. Do your research on the background of the company and the community. Research leadership in your area. And… remember that YOU are in charge of your homeschool.

( I have found it helpful over the years to write down our reasons for homeschooling and revisit them several times each year! )

Don’t Ever Tie Yourself to One “Program”

To make a long story short, my daughter stayed in the Challenge program four years.

She gained many good things from her years in Challenge. (I have written about not losing the wonder in high school and the importance of following your child.)

The valuable lesson I learned, however, was that we should never feel an allegiance to one method or program. The minute a method becomes an idol should be a warning signal. We must always stay in our own lanes and follow our child’s lead. In the end, it was important that I listened to my daughter and let her follow her passions.

(My son completed all of Foundations and Essentials and will be entering Challenge I this fall. He has an extremely unusual situation that involves a combination of 10 committed families and children who get along very well. I do tweak the Challenge curriculum and we participate because of the community. I anticipate him graduating with this group of friends, but I have also learned to never say never.)

Another lesson learned? Each child is different!! To assume one method will fit all of your children isn’t realistic!

Our #homeschool story - Part III

My daughter’s 12th grade World Literature class - what a blessing this group has been!

I think, also, that my daughter learned flexibility, grace, and courage in her homeschool high school experiences.

She has been the “new kid” at a local Classical school. She has learned to assert herself and how to step in and make friends. We can see so clearly how God was guiding her journey every step of the way!

The Courage to Be Different

Stepping away from Classical Conversations after the 10th grade gave us a feeling of FREEDOM with my daughter’s education.

She will be graduating in just a few weeks, and has enjoyed a combination of online classes, classes at a local Classical school, and a smattering of classes we have designed together at home. She will be attending college - majoring in Special Education (her great love).

God has been faithful and good throughout her homeschooling journey, and I am thankful I listened to HIM when it mattered most.

Take Some Good From Everything

I feel like a broken record - sharing the lessons I have learned, but there are so many.

Whatever curriculum, program, or method you choose - find the good in it. If it isn’t for you 100%, you always have extracted some good. I am convinced that if we adopt this attitude all will be well.

Life is like that, too - take a little good from everything you encounter, correct?

From our experiences with Classical Conversations, Memoria Press Academy, Mr. D Math, HSLDA Academy, Shormann Math - and many other resources - we have pieced together a unique education for each of my children that I hope honors each of their strengths and talents.

Our #Homeschool Story - Part III

Our sweet Challenge group - my son is the goofball on the top left!

Yes, They CAN Get Into College

Finally, everyone used to ask me if I was worried my homeschooler would get into college.

My answer? NOT AT ALL.

I found that being an unaccredited homeschooler put us into a separate category. We found colleges that were interested in my child and vice versa. If we had to jump through too many hoops to apply to a college then I knew that wasn’t the place for my homeschooler.

I wouldn’t let college acceptance factor into your homeschool high school decision. I tell my friends with younger homeschoolers now to just be sure they meet the state required credits for graduation, be sure your child takes some SAT or ACT prep, and that they can write well.

I sought to maintain the integrity of my daughter’s high school education first and foremost, and it has all worked out beautifully.

Read my series Homeschool to College to learn A LOT more about this topic!

Did you miss a part in the series?

Find them here:

From School to Home: Our Story (Part One)

From School to Home: Our Story (Part Two)

My prayer is that you have courage, ideas, and inspiration from our journey.

Questions or comments? Just let me know below!