In August 1999, I made a brave and life changing decision. I started homeschooling my children. My eldest was in second grade, my second born was a preschooler, and my baby was a toddler.
It has been 18 years. When I first began, there were several families in my area who homeschooled, so there was a co-op where we met regularly for extra classes or field trips or special guest speakers. The special classes ranged from learning about geography and specific countries to art. We took field trips to the capitol, to an apple orchard, to a wastewater treatment facility, and to a fisheries facility, just to name a few. Over the years, we’ve been to living historical sites, historical homes, numerous museums, plays, and a ballet. One guest I remember was a local meteorologist.
I began with great excitement that first year. I always start the year with excitement, but the newness wears off quickly. The first year, the freshness turned to an overwhelming feeling, and once I ended up at a friend’s in tears swearing I couldn’t do this thing called homeschooling. I persevered though and continue today having educated four of my children through eighth grade. I teach only one this year. I tackle this year the same as every other, though it is less complicated with only one student.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes. The fear of failing as a teacher and mother can be intense. So much rides on your shoulders because of the responsibilities you’ve accepted, but it is worth it—even with the long hours, sticking with it when you would rather do something else, and the tears. Homeschooling is hard work. When a child doesn’t want to do his work, he has to learn that work comes before play. When a child doesn’t understand a lesson, a mom/teacher must figure out what he doesn’t understand and keep reviewing it until it clicks. You have to be firm with sticking to school during certain hours. This may mean letting the answering machine take calls or telling people they may not expect to visit when you have school. You have a responsibility to teach your child, prepare him for his future. Of course, emergencies may happen or out of town relatives may visit so you take off a day to visit, but that isn’t a normal occurrence. Babies and toddlers make homeschooling more challenging because one must be flexible and incorporate their needs into the day. I usually taught with a baby on my hip. I remember getting stressed.
Like any job, we have good days and bad days, but teaching homeschool is one job I will never regret. If I had to do it over, I’d still choose to do it, but I’ve learned some things I should always do and some things that really don’t matter. We all learn from experience so that is why homeschool support groups and friends are so valuable. We cannot homeschool alone. We need each other.
It’s just like our faith walk. We cannot do it alone. The One I must lean on the most is Jesus, as He is the primary reason I chose this educational option. Prayer is an integral part of the job. Somehow through the craziness of life, the kids learn and excel. I am certain this is because I see homeschooling as a ministry, and my goals for education include Him. If you have chosen to homeschool, I want to encourage you. It goes fast even though some periods seem to last forever. You’re doing better than you think you are.
Sometimes a child makes a simple assignment drag out for hours. Some days you wonder why you do it. Sometimes your children come back to thank you and say they want to homeschool their kids. After you cry tears of thankfulness, you’ll agree that your investment has paid rich dividends. Praise God.
Yes, homeschooling is hard work, but it’s a worthwhile commitment, and the best part is spending your days with your favorite people.