I colored inside the lines all my life…Deciding to homeschool was one of the first decisions that really took me off the beaten path. At first, I was terrified of what others would think—I spent a lot of time trying to justify why I homeschool (mostly to myself). Not necessarily because anyone was point-blank asking me or challenging me…But because it was just so foreign to me—going against the grain.
Faith Over Fear
I was a people-pleaser. (Which up to that point, I’d worn like a badge-of-honor…Obviously, that meant I was extra nice…) But God is constantly teaching all of us—and people pleasing can be an idol of sorts (really rather ugly and not so saintly…I’ve had some lessons to learn about pride too).
At first, homeschooling was definitely a step of faith…People might think I’m crazy (and I’m sure some did). God was challenging me to follow Him, regardless of the approval or disapproval of others.
And in all honesty, I’ve had nothing but supportive family, friends, and neighbors—and I am so thankful and blessed by them. My battles were in my own mind—based on my own insecurities and perceptions versus reality. And it may help to understand—I was a very young mom when I first started homeschooling…I was 22 when my oldest was born.
I probably spent two years just researching and wrestling with the idea of homeschooling. It all started around the time my first child turned 3—I became friends with someone, a neighbor who homeschooled. It was an epiphany! And that’s how it goes with God sometimes…An idea is planted. Something you never imagined. Never dreamed would be your life. And He won’t let you put it aside.
Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that I would be homeschooling my kids. Before meeting my sweet neighbor, I really didn’t know anyone who homeschooled.
In addition, I was a poster child for public education! I had done really well in school—I thrived in its “gold star,” culture and loved my teachers. They inspired me to become a teacher. I received a full scholarship to study elementary education, graduated with honors from my university in three years, and was teaching second grade back in my home school district at the age of 21.
Not So Rosy
Of course teaching, like many careers, is really challenging those first few years. But—WOW…I had no idea how hard it would really be and how many behavior problems I would be dealing with! And remember, I was teaching 2nd graders!
I experienced how hard it is to give 20+ students each the individual attention they need. And I saw that the loudest, most demanding, and often most difficult children got the majority of my time and energy. It was shocking the types of behaviors I was dealing with in seven-year-olds—ranging from foul language, sexual inappropriateness, aggressiveness, bullying, mean-spiritedness, emotional trauma, and extreme disruptiveness. I was teaching in a middle class suburban neighborhood.
One Dream Ends
I resigned after becoming pregnant with my second child and my husband accepted a job out-of-state. We moved, and I have never lamented leaving the classroom. I don’t think I could ever return. My original dream of being a classroom teacher was over—but I was busy living my new dream as a stay-at-home mom.
A Note About Teachers
I still keep my teaching license current—and so every five years I take continuing education classes with friends and current classroom teachers. Every time, I hear more horror stories from the classroom. I don’t know how teachers are doing it…I have nothing but love and respect for them.
And that is definitely something you should know—most public school teachers are the best people. They are your neighbors and friends. They are sitting next to you at church. Teachers are amazing and special people. We hear outrageous stories on the news about a few bad ones…But, I promise you—most teachers are good. Better than good, amazing. Most teachers are busting their butts and loving our kids—being examples of Jesus. The teachers are not why I homeschool my kids!
Faced With A Decision
So in a blink, my beautiful baby boy—was school aged. He was quiet, kind, and loved being at home (always an introvert)! In addition, he had some language struggles.
I imagined him in a classroom. Smiling sweetly, not wanting to cause any fuss, quiet…And I knew he would never get the attention he needed. I remembered all the things going on in my own classroom—I just didn’t want that for him…
And that one friend who homeschooled–she gave me the courage to believe I could do it too! I could see that God had worked out many things in my life—preparing me for this exact calling.
So we began…a step into a new way of life. Homeschooling.
Why I Homeschool …18 Years Later
Why I homeschool has changed over the years. Initially, I wanted to provide individual attention and instruction to my children—and avoid some of the problems I saw in public school classrooms. Those are still important reasons we homeschool, but truly there is so much more we’ve discovered…
**I originally wrote this post in 2017…after homeschooling 14 years. Now 18 years into the adventure (and officially graduating a child from our homeschool)–I’ve updated the post & added some extra thoughts to the end!
Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It is simplicity and togetherness…slowing down—having time to play, to discover and pursue passions. It is about family relationships.
Our mornings are relaxed. Our evenings are relaxed. I’m not worrying about packing lunches, signing notes, washing a certain load of laundry, helping with homework at 9 P.M, or rushing kids to the bus stop. No thank you to all of that!
I think homeschooling has given us a more simple and peaceful way of life (I say that with three kids yelling and running around behind me)! But truly—I do believe homeschooling offers a lifestyle different from the traditional busyness that plagues many American families.
Probably my most favorite reasons for homeschooling—the relationships I have with my kids and the relationships they have with each other. I am forever thankful for all the extra time I’ve had with them and that they’ve had together–it’s been priceless.
Creativity and Learning
Homeschooling takes much less time than traditional classroom education. And because of that, homeschool kids have more time to play, be creative, and do things they love!
All of my older kids (now young adults) are amazing artists (in a variety of forms)—I can’t help but think some of it stems from their time homeschooling.
I’ve noticed that they each value learning–differently than when I was a student. They freely seek out greater understanding of topics–it doesn’t matter if it’s on a test or not. Authentic learning is the true motivation, not scoring well on a test. In contrast, I was satisfied to reach goals my teachers set for me–and didn’t really care about retaining the information beyond the test.
Additionally, homeschooling offers an unparalleled opportunity to individualize a child’s education. We can slow down, speed up, skip around, and focus on topics we find interesting. I’m able to give my kids individual attention that would be impossible to provide in a classroom.
There are many excellent homeschool curriculums available–some are faith-based and some are secular. I use both! Regardless, faith is what we live, part of who we are—day in and day out. Homeschooling has provided a beautiful opportunity for me to share my faith—live my faith, for my kids to see.
Personally, the most important thing I will ever teach my kids is faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that—it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the academics!
Outside Activities that Require Much Time and Dedication
I can’t talk about why I homeschool, without mentioning that for many years one of my daughters was a competitive gymnast. Homeschooling was a huge blessing during that time, and I cannot imagine keeping up with the physical demands of her schedule had we not homeschooled! In addition, my 18-year-old daughter was in a pre-professional classical ballet company and danced about 20 hours a week. Homeschooling helped keep a healthy balance in our lives.
It’s Not Perfect
My oldest kids (21, 20, and 18) are all really close, creative, and free thinking (…as evidenced by the PETA calendar mailed to my then-fourteen year old vegan and my 21 year old’s political leanings).
Our oldest two kids went to public high school, which is a whole other story. But they did excellent academically, and didn’t follow the crowd. Would I do public high school again?
Thankfully my third child (my 18 year old daughter) wanted to homeschool through high school. And after seeing the shenanigans happening at the high school with my oldest two, it only made me more confident and content with the choice to homeschool through high school. Trust me–YOU can do it!
There’s a lot more to say about that…
But please know homeschooling is not perfect. My kids are not perfect (and I am far from perfect), and we haven’t avoided problems that you might hope to avoid by homeschooling…We’ve had struggles with depression, anxiety, faith, and friends. Some seriously hard and dark times.
And my house is in a constant state of messy…I’m there with (almost) all of them, all the time! The kitchen is always in use…So, yes—I had to get okay with this (and thank goodness I found the FlyLady–she is my cleaning guru…go get her free help!!). There will be a quieter, cleaner season of life—but now is not it! On the bright side, my kids have had lots of opportunities to learn life skills—cleaning, cooking, and changing a few diapers!
I’d Do It All Again
I would homeschool them all again in a heartbeat. And I’m so thankful to be doing it all again with my youngest three children (10-year-old son and 7-year-old twin daughters)—hopefully I’ll do it just a little bit better. With more patience, wisdom, and love…not taking any of the time for granted.
Now that I have a homeschool graduate and have 18 years under my belt, I’ve updated this post…And I will tell you that all the above reasons still ring true…(Except that we no longer participate in outside activities that require so much of our family time–and I don’t think we’ll ever go down that road again.)
But a few new reasons really shine out and call to my heart…Reasons I didn’t notice at the beginning:
- Homeschooling has truly helped me slow down–enjoy my kids and embrace their childhood. Now that I have 3 young adults–you can believe I cling to every ounce of childhood my little ones have left!
- I have renewed my own love of learning and reading. It feels like I’ve rediscovered long, lost friends.
- What a blessing to help our children discover their passions and gifts–we have time to dive deep when homeschooling!
And finally just a little note about failure…The fear hidden in almost every mom’s heart…
Fear of Failure
Sometimes when we think about all the things we hope and dream for our kids–our visions and goals for homeschooling, why we homeschool…It can be overwhelming.
We want them to leave our homes with unshakeable faith, a love for learning, skills to serve them in all areas of life, and a passion for the true, pure, good, and beautiful…We want all the things for them.
But it has become apparent–ultimate success is not up to me. It’s not up to you either, Sweet Friend.
God is calling us–and He is simply asking us to be faithful and faithfully do the work. It is so important to recognize that God is in control and the success will not always look how we planned. And that is ok.
Don’t let fear of failure keep you from this amazing homeschooling life!
**Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival, probably wrote my favorite homeschooling book (it’s on my list of must-reads) on trusting God and resting in His grace for the journey, Teaching from Rest–A Homeschoolers Guide to Unshakeable Peace…It’s a super quick read and one that I keep coming back to yearly!
If you’re thinking about homeschooling—I hope my story helps and encourages you. I know how hard it is to take that first step! (Here’s another another post with all my best advice about getting started!) And if you ultimately decide homeschooling isn’t the best for you and your family–know that’s okay too!
If you’re already a homeschooler—I hope my story feels like a hug of solidarity! It’s so nice to know you’re not alone!
I’d love to hear why you homeschool—what is the greatest benefit you’ve found for your family? Why did you start? How did you find yourself on this journey?
If you have questions about homeschooling, I’d love to help! Feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Probably my favorite verse for homeschooling encouragement over the years… (taken from 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
You may not feel like you are organized enough, patient enough, or disciplined enough to homeschool…bring these fears to God and look to His strength and guidance. It is amazing what He will accomplish in you and through you!