We have been homeschooling for five years now. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. I had no idea what I was getting into when we first started. I mean, I had researched online and talked with a ton of people. However, it is kind of like having a child….you can never be fully ready until you just do it. I remember our first year. I was so scared that I was going to mess our daughter up. I made all these fancy lesson plans and had long, exhausting days planned out. In our first few weeks, we were having school from like 8am-3:30 or so. It was crazy. Our Pastor’s wife is a teacher and I asked her a few weeks into that school year how many tests her class had taken so far. She just smiled at me and said not to worry….that I could catch up and then told me that they were about to take their fourth test of the year. I then told her that we had already taken thirteen!! She laughed and encouraged me to pace myself before we were out of work by Christmas!! A lot has changed between then and now. We are more relaxed in our day. We have added little brother to the school mix and homeschool is the only school that he has ever known. We have learned together what works best for each very different student. I would say that I am a bit more confident. I don’t worry so much about what other people think. I know that the curriculum we have chosen is a great one and I know what my kids are learning. I can see where they are struggling. I can use real moments in real life- like trips to the grocery store- as teaching moments.
One thing that has not changed in the five years that we have been doing this is the feedback that we get. We constantly hear comments like ‘that must be so nice’. It is!! I love it and would not trade these last five years for anything. My kids might bicker and fight, but then I also catch those moments when Gary wants to be a part of Allie’s science lesson and so she takes the time to explain it to him. It is such a blessing and I frequently joke about all of the perks, like planning our own field trips and schedule flexibility. I cannot begin to tell you how nice that it has been to be able to travel with Otis and to book vacations around the cheapest rates. We also get to serve as a family. Our kids are usually the first volunteers working when we have a youth event– they are the ones shopping with us and unloading groceries and supplies. We adore being able to serve as a family unit. The perks are fabulous, but they are not reason enough to choose to homeschool.
I have lost count of how many times over the last five years that I have gone in my room and burst into tears. This is a huge responsibility. Being a mom alone comes with stress and worry and tears…. imagine being the mom and the teacher. Most parents send their kids to school and trust that the school is doing its job. I have nothing against that. 99% of my family and friends do that very thing.
We truly believe that the Lord wanted us to homeschool. It was never even on my radar….not something that we ever talked about. Seriously- it was never brought up. When Allie was finishing her second grade year at a private school, we faced a fork in the road and we had to make a decision. We prayed about our options and homeschool became a very clear one. We re-evaluate every year. We talk to our kids and make sure they are still happy. We pray as a family. So far, this is where God has us and it has been a blessing to our family.
That does not mean that it hasn’t been scary and hard. Like I said before, it brings a whole new level of responsibility to the growth of your kids. As Allie has gotten older, I have worried about being fit to teach her some of the math and science lessons. It has been a long time since I was in 7th grade!! Thank goodness for online resources and YouTube. If we are stuck on something, we can look it up and learn together. Allie went to a great daycare, so she went into kindergarten being ahead of the game. The school that she attended for three years was a fabulous school, so we know that she had a great foundation. She had already learned how to read and write. The scariest thing for me her first year of homeschool was teaching her cursive. Gary on the other hand has been completely with me. He did not have that foundation. I have to be honest though, when I sit back and see him reading– I get excited. I taught him that! My kid can read and write because I taught him! That is a confidence booster!! When he is struggling with something though- it weighs heavy on my heart. I worry about what I might be doing wrong and try to come up with different ways to teach him. That sits on our shoulders as his parents. There is no “letting the teacher deal with that”….we are the teachers.
Homeschooling has been one of the great privileges of my life. I spend more time with my kids than most parents get to. It is not a quick fix. You had better make sure that the Lord called you to walk this path, because you will certainly need His strength and wisdom to make a way. There are hard times, but the rewards are priceless.
I do not know how long that we will be on this particular journey, but as long as the Lord allows us to….I will enjoy every rewarding and difficult step that we take.