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When people find out I’m a homeschool mom, one of the questions they often ask is, “What are your kids learning?” Once — just once! — I’d like someone to ask me, “What are you learning?” Although I don’t consider myself a teacher, I am indeed teaching my children. But, they are not the only ones learning! My dear friend, Wendy, wrote an article for the OCHEC Informer about the eight truths she’s learned during her homeschool journey. She has given me permission to share these eight truths with you; I hope they will encourage you on your own homeschool journey.
My Homeschool Journey
It was yesterday, or so it feels. I was uncomfortably hesitant about this journey called homeschooling. I began with many fears and so many questions.
Will I forever ruin my son educationally?
What if he never learns to read?!
Yet today– now– I am astonished that the race is finished: He has successfully graduated from high school. Being the mental health nurse that I am, reflecting on feelings and circumstances as life progresses is natural to me. This has led me to come up with eight “truths” about homeschooling which are very real in my life. Sadly, it has taken me years to truly understand these truths.
If I could somehow write a letter to my pre-homeschooling self and send it back through time, would I believe my future self’s wisdom? Probably not. But it would still be good for me to read these truths as a novice homeschooler and consider them prayerfully. And, even better, to read them regularly as I found myself caught up in comparisons with others so often.
Since time-travel is not a viable option, sharing these with other homeschoolers is my next choice. Perhaps these eight truths will serve as encouragement when the reality of homeschooling is in question.
1. Don’t Compare
Go ahead and ask questions about how others homeschool or what curriculum they use and why. But don’t ever think what works for them will automatically work for you because it may not. Grasp tightly to this core truth, as it seems to become the homeschool mom’s biggest nightmare. It’s worth repeating: Don’t compare.
2. There is No Perfect Curriculum
Don’t waste a lot of time, money, and energy looking for the perfect curriculum. Of course, you’ll need to change curricula when your child’s needs dictate such a change, just like I did. We did not stick to one math program or one history curriculum throughout all of our homeschooling years. None of them were perfect; none worked perfectly for my son. Modifications were made in each course as needed. Perfection is exclusive to God, so stop chasing after that in curricula, in your child’s life, and in your life circumstances.
3. Know Your Child’s Learning Style
Choose curriculum based on this truth. It will go better for all of you if you do this one thing! (Today it’s easy to get online and research everything; there are so many resources on learning styles and choosing curriculum!)
4. Know Your Family Dynamics
Know the dynamics of your family and homeschool within them. For instance, we chose to homeschool year-round. This allowed us to travel when we wanted, take mental health days when needed, and take advantage of excellent weather or spontaneous field trip days. Schooling this way led to our son completing all his high school requirements early and graduating a year ahead of schedule. He even had 16 credit hours of college completed, too!
That is our family dynamics. Remember truth number one? Don’t compare. Figure out and be convinced about what works for your family.
5. Recognize Needs
Don’t focus solely on your children’s needs; recognize your own needs, too. At one point, I was in three different homeschool support groups just so I could get my needs and my son’s needs met. Each group offered different advantages. Take your needs to God and be led by Him. There is a season for everything, and every year of homeschooling will look different. Recognize that as your needs and your children’s needs change, you must adjust. So don’t get totally comfortable with curriculum, groups, and schedules. God truly does supply all your needs, even when the new year looks nothing like the previous one. No need to panic; live this out as an adventure!
6. It’s Not All About Your Child
Homeschooling is not all about your children. It’s about how God is working in you and in your family. Nor is it about your knowledge, your wisdom, or your dedication to making homeschooling work. It’s about realizing you are not enough. You will never have it all together– but He does. God is limitless. Rely on Him.
7. Know Why You’re Homeschooling
If it is not because of love, you need to re-think it. The core motivation behind every decision to homeschool should be love and discipleship. You could wind up with a genius child who goes on to attend Stanford, yet he does not have love in his heart. What is that? A clanging symbol. (Read 1 Corinthians 13.) Forget about mission statements, amazing documentation, and finishing every textbook. There is rigidity, and even legalism, in all those things. There is just one thing that is important: Does your child have a growing relationship with his or her Savior?
8. Homeschooling Will End
Begin grieving and thinking about the transition to adulthood when your child begins high school. Don’t wait for their senior year! Think about your transition (especially when it’s your last child) and the possibility of having an empty nest. Think about it now. I’ll wait …
Do you need a tissue? I thought so.
Think now about the fact that homeschooling will end, otherwise graduation will be a blurry, snot-filled, teary trauma– for you! Let it be an exciting time to launch your child into the world, and a time to enjoy what God is now calling you to do!
Share Your Knowledge
Homeschooling is about learning. Each day you’ll be sharing your knowledge with your children. As the years go by, you’ll still be sharing with your children, but you’ll also start sharing with other homeschooling moms. You may think you have nothing to offer, but you do! You’ve made it through (how many?) years of homeschooling and that new mom is very anxious about starting her first year. Talk to her. Let her know she can do this. Share these eight truths with her. Encourage her to not compare her beginning to your middle, or someone else’s end. Help her figure out her child’s learning style, and choose curricula. Show her that it’s not all about the children, but about her needs, and about seeking God daily.
And if you know a homeschooling mom who has a child graduating this year, show her some love and attend the graduation ceremony. Don’t forget to take along some tissues for her, too.
Wendy Young, MSN, lives in the Tulsa area with her audiologist husband, Scott, and their son, Stefan, who just completed his homeschooling journey after being homeschooled since Day One. Besides having served on the leadership council of her homeschool group and working in her husband’s audiology clinic, Hearing Solution Centers, her nursing background lends itself to her side business of teaching on healing qualities of therapeutic essential oils.