So, we decided to homeschool and we all lived happily ever after, right? Um, not so much! J I shifted into an all-consuming, “I’ve-got-a-new-mission-in-life mode and don’t anybody stand in my way.” We bought “The Well Trained Mind.” We informed the school that we would not be returning next year. We bought “Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.” We took the quizzes. We became the parents of a Wiggly Willy/Competent Carl, a Perfect Paula, and a Sociable Sue (who is actually a Sociable Sam). We went to the conference. I got overwhelmed (and a little nauseated) in the vendor hall after discovering that my World’s-Greatest-One-Stop-Works-For-All-Of-Your-Children-At-One-Time-While-Washing-Your-Dishes-And-Folding-Your-Laundry curriculum was not actually going to work for MY family (insert paper bag hyperventilation and mass quantities of Diet Pepsi, here). We dry walled the garage. I finally decided on the curriculum. We set up the desks. We joined a homeschooling group. I bored my friends to death with my endless ramblings (God bless you girls. I love you.). Finally, we opened our doors for the first day of school (two weeks before our public school friends).
Or we would have opened our doors, if the garage had been finished. We sweated through our first days in the August heat, going back and forth between garage and kitchen table. The kids were fighting. The baby was always too loud and in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our family had also had a rough summer. I was hot. I was scared. I didn’t have anyone to reach out to (because, um, hello?? I’ve totally got this! I WAS a teacher for Pete’s sake). Deep down, I started to doubt that I COULD do it. I was less worried about becoming the flighty-looking mom and more worried about not meeting my kids’ needs.
I was worried ALL THE TIME. I was nervous ALL THE TIME. I doubted my abilities CONSTANTLY (cause it was about me, right? Not what God wanted to accomplish through me). And then came the day that all public school families wait for… the posting of the class lists. Guess what? My kids were on the lists. Guess what? Their closest friends were in their classes. Guess what happened next? I had an out…
Ah, and then I started rationalizing. “It’s probably better to let them start the year with their classmates, than to decide in two or three months that I made the wrong call and try to enroll them later.” I think my darling husband could sense the mania taking hold. He was so encouraging and supportive. He couldn’t be here during the day, so he didn’t fully know and he would support me whatever we decided… but he did continue to encourage me, “I know you can do this,” he said. “I will support you through this.” “We can do this together.” But I wasn’t listening. The confusion made it impossible.
And then the worst part… Whenever I have gotten to a tough spot, I have always said to the Lord, “If you could just go old-school for a minute, Father, and send that hand to write on the wall and tell me what to do, I promise not to be freaked out. I will do whatever you say.” But as I was praying (and crying) the night before school started, I did hear the voice of the Lord and He said to me, “He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it. I will give you everything you need to complete the job I have set before you.” Wow…….
Here, the Lord had given me the very thing I asked for, and I was still scared. Call it what you will, I call it spiritual warfare. We were under attack and in the end, I caved. I walked my kids to school and it didn’t grieve me as I thought it would because all along the way we saw the happy faces of the people we loved. I was so relieved that I mistakenly believed I made the right choice. Their wonderful teachers were so happy to see them. The school secretary was pleased when she told me, “I kept them on the list, just in case.” It was early October, when I understood the mistake I had made. The problems we had were bigger than ever. I repented… big time. And I praise God that He is the God of second chances. His goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life. We pulled the kids from school, this time officially.
I can tell you, without hesitation, that for every reason you have for homeschooling, there are a hundred you will discover, over time. I hadn’t noticed, but even at their young ages, they were growing up way too fast. I’ll never forget the day my kindergarten-age daughter came home innocently singing every word to a certain Katy Perry song. They were growing up and I was missing out on so much of it. THEY were missing out, too.
My son, who is pretty bright academically, was invited to join a special math group. Basically, they were second graders doing third grade work. The problem was that now he had second AND third grade math homework. When I asked if he could just do the third grade work, (since, he’s clearly mastered the second grade skills) I was told, no. That was fine, it was her call. One night, he was SO upset about his homework and it was getting very late. I said, “Son, do you really enjoy being in that math group?” If it was really important to him, I didn’t want to take it away from him. “I will support you, if you want to continue,” I said, “but I think this is a little much for our family and if you don’t want to stay in it, you don’t have to.” I silently cheered his decision the next day when I came to volunteer and his teacher told me, “Your little guy politely informed me that he wouldn’t be participating in the math group anymore.” We both chuckled, but I started to feel bad because I knew he wouldn’t progress at the rate he was capable of.
One day, after we pulled the kids for good, my mom went out to lunch with my their former kindergarten teacher and she was asking about how homeschooling was going for us. She said to my mom, “You know what? She really just needed to believe she could do it.” I am not trying to say that ANYONE is being disobedient in not homeschooling their children (though I was initially). If you’re considering homeschooling, what you need is courage. The Lord will give you every measure that you will need for this job, you just have to ask.
People always say, “Well, you can do it because you were a teacher.” This is ABSOLUTELY untrue and I will write about this tomorrow, but there is one advantage that former teachers have and that is perspective. My first year of teaching was difficult, at best. I questioned my college education and my choice to pursue teaching. I was taught nothing in my teacher prep classes about the most important part of teaching: classroom management. Yet, the summer between my first and second years, I researched, I plotted, I planned, and you know what? The second year was incredible! Homeschooling is filled with highs and lows, but I would always encourage moms not to give up after the first year. You learned a lot during your first year and the second year is where it shows.
If you are considering homeschooling, I have to say DO IT NOW! You will NOT be disappointed. You might become discouraged and disillusioned, but you will not be disappointed. The friends I know who pulled their kids from school to homeschool, have only one regret… that they didn’t do it sooner. I will pray that if it’s courage you need, that you receive it; if it’s encouragement, that you find it; if it’s a drive-thru Starbucks, that there is one around the corner. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:5-7 NAS
p.s. One of the very best articles on this topic that I have ever read is by Gregg Harris called, “Priceless Treasures”. You can Google it, since I don’t know how to link yet. J