I remember when I began to consider whether or not we would be homeschooling our children. When people asked me questions I was defensive, unsure, off balance, and scared.
Some moments I thought I was nuts. Other moments I thought it was the greatest idea since the invention of the wheel.
Some days I had no confidence we would succeed. And, other days I thought our kids would become powerhouses for Him in a world of confusion and disorder.
My thoughts and emotions have moved across the map as we have toed our way into and through these initial few years of homeschooling. But, I have decided once and for all that we are in this.
Even when it does not “look right” we are committed to see it through to its completion.
Homeschooling: It’s Not about HOW
It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways there are to do the same thing and accomplish the same goal. We are, however, often inundated with the idea that there is only one single right choice to homeschool. And if you don’t choose it, you are on the road to no where fast.
Homeschooling has been on this roller coaster in my mind. I have endured seasons where I did not measure up to what I thought I was supposed to be doing.
Usually, of course, my confusion was based on my limited understanding about what other homeschoolers are doing.
Maybe you are like me and struggle with these battles of perception and comparison. If so, I’m glad you are here today so we can unpack the lies and get to the truth.
Homeschool, like any kind of long-term event, is a “roller coaster.” It has its ups and downs, its direction changes, and sometimes throws a few curve balls.
It is a life wrapped up in teaching and training; winding education into the fabric of true living.
This is not its weakness, however, but a very strong aspect of its strength…if you embrace it.
Through these past seven years of declared homeschooling, every year has looked different. In fact, not ONE has looked even remotely like the one I had pictured in my head during my “planning session.”
There’s a phrase we use in our household that has really stuck these past few years. In the case of homeschooling, it absolutely helps to clarify our vision:
Be fluid, because flexible is just too rigid.”
I love it.
It hasn’t always been easy…
When I first started “homeschooling,” my oldest daughter was all of 4 years old, but I was eager to make a decision on the matter and have something to qualify to answer seeking friends and family.
So, I enrolled her into a local homeschooling group, and quickly burned myself to the ground.
You see, I’m one of those people who jumps in with both feet, but thankfully I am also a quick learner. I did not repeat that same mistake the next year.
The truth is, though, that I have failed repeatedly, especially in the early years. I pushed my kids too hard and felt like I did not know at all what I was doing.
But, thankfully, over time we have settled into a normalcy with homeschooling that has brought us the blessings that cannot be quantified.
We love and enjoy each other. We are constantly sharpened and challenged to grow and apply the character of God against the sinfulness of our flesh.
It’s About WHY
When my first few children were entering into the official “school age” category, I was compelled to keep things as simple as possible.
I confess, at first I had this BIG plan that included all kinds of activities and projects and trips and books. But as I soon realized that this kind of busyness is not at all beneficial for me as a person, I also had to realize a plan that would truly work for us.
I do not believe there is one right way to homeschool.
I do believe that the core reason you choose to homeschool is important.
The ultimate WHY, the crux of the choice, ultimately leads to an end result of either commitment and dedication to the choice to homeschool, or a return to the standard out-of-home-school programs.
Each household carries their own “why.”
For us, homeschooling is a result of our family’s values. Sure, raging against the machine of the “system” could top a list or two, but this is not REALLY the driving element behind our commitment.
The values that are incredibly important to us are freedom, independence, flexibility, opportunity for creativity, the chance to embrace the uniqueness of each person as made in the image of God, and so many more things.
If we turned our backs on these values we would be turning our backs on the core philosophies that make us who we are.
For us, this means that the weaknesses and failures of the moment simply become one more learning opportunity to help grow us into more capable teachers for the next season we endure.
You CAN do this
What I did not understand fully when I jumped onto this homeschooling train was that our school would change over time as the kids matured and aged.
The pattern and schedule, and workload, etc. grows to meet them where they are, slowly and gradually, step by step.
In my mind, I officially began homeschooling the moment I made the declaration.
For me, that was when my daughter was four.
The truth is that I had been homeschooling her from the moment she was born.
I taught her baby sign language (aff link) when she was a baby and she learned a hundred signs. This is a pattern that we established in our home and have carried on with every child since (though no one else has learned that many).
I taught her colors, shapes, how to hold a crayon, the name of various objects she observed. We read books together, played games, sang songs, etc.
However, I had a mental crisis when she was about two years old. I realized that she soon had to get a REAL education.
I certainly had been programmed to think that “lessons at home are not really education.” It took a long time to override that line of thinking.
Lessons learned at home are far more valuable than any you could learn from a book. They teach life skills and thought processes and viewpoints in the world.
We seek to not just teach them what to think, but HOW to think.
And I can think of no better way to teach that then at home.
Define what Homeschooling means to YOU
As much as I truly value education and learning, knowledge in and of itself is not my goal for homeschooling.
My vision is much more broad and eternal than this limited application.
For me, we will succeed in homeschooling if our children reach adulthood with these three things
- a biblical worldview
- the ability to think and articulate thought,
- and the ability to analyze the wisdom of something to determine its rightful place in their lives.
For us, everything else we do to train their minds is secondary to these primary purposes.
Math lessons, learning to read, holding a pencil the right way are all good and great. But what we really focused on is character development through learning, no matter what that happens to look like each day.
It is more important to us to raise quality people than to jam a bunch of facts and figures into their minds.
And when character skills are present, intelligence will inevitably follow.