Okay, okay, I’ve heard from a number of people who have wanted to know how our first year of homeschooling has been going. Enough that I should probably give an update.
Here goes: We quit.
We made it 9 long weeks before the whole family agreed that, for us? Homeschooling is just not a good fit.
In those 9 weeks we all learned a great deal, me probably more than anyone else. Sadly, that might say something about my ability to teach my kids. Kidding. Kind of.
Among some of the things I learned were that I admire mothers who successfully educate their children at home TREMENDOUSLY. Oh my goodness. The women I met at the co-op we attended once-a-week were so amazing. They are smart, creative, organized, have hearts of gold, patience that I can’t even think of duplicating, and are great teachers.
They are also, in fact, human (perhaps super-human, but human nonetheless). They were honest about how hard homeschooling their children can be. They were truthful about the frustrations and difficulties that come with being around their kiddos 24/7. I was so grateful for that transparency because around week 3 (still in September, friends), I was wondering what on earth I had done, bringing my girls home.
I learned that these wonderful families don’t necessarily school their kids at home for religious reasons, but because it is the best choice for their families. Some travel a lot. Some have kiddos with learning difficulties that the public school system just isn’t equipped for. Others just really want to be with their kids. ALL are great reasons.
I learned about GRACE and giving myself a ton of it. Having grown up in the public school system, I have only ever “done school” a certain way. The freedom allowed by homeschooling, both in schedule and in structure, can be overwhelming to people like me who have never been educated outside of a classroom setting. So when I found our family falling behind from the schedule I had laid out, I was convinced I was ruining my girls, ensuring they’d never graduate, setting them up for lifelong poverty of mind and bank account.
Not so. These mamas always reminded me that the schedules are guidelines and that the kids WILL learn. They’ll learn more than I think and be just fine. “Give yourself grace!” they’d say.
So why, with all this learning taking place, was it not a good fit for our family?
All I had to do was look to my children.
One of my daughters is a natural leader. The girl thrives when she is helping others and encouraging them. I was told by one of her teachers in first grade that if she (the teacher) needed a sub, she could put my girl in charge and the class would do great!
This daughter grieved leaving school so badly. I watched my daughter wither. Sure, she completed her work, pushed herself and strove to do better than her sister (gotta love the sibling rivalry), but her spirit wilted being away from her school and friends.
My other girl is so much like her mother. She is energetic, uses a lot of words, has a will of iron and likes to be liked by others. Her love languages are words of affirmation and quality time. Homeschooling was her idea! She wanted to be home with her mama because, being one of 6, quality time with mama is rare. Couple that with the frustration of schoolwork AND having a baby & preschooler to compete with and what we found is that this girl didn’t need mama as a teacher, but to be mama.
Then there’s that phrase that really did us in: Homeschooling FAMILY.
In our home we have a lot of people. But one of those people, the tallest one with the deepest voice that is the provider, he’s gone a lot. Not just normal job “a lot”, but a LOT. Between work, commute and Air Force Reserve duties and trips, (sometimes being multiple weeks long), I found myself depleted. Two of the kids don’t sleep through the night. Two other kids have school, friend and youth group obligations. Two more have activities.
I. Was. EMPTY.
Empty isn’t even the right word. “Barren” might be better. I had nothing to offer. Not one thing to give beyond the basics. One can only run on 5-ish hours of sleep each night for so many years before running dry.
SO. When the girls mentioned they’d like to go back to school, I prayed, wrestled (was I giving up? Was the enemy trying to get me to quit so God wouldn’t get the glory for whatever success might come?) talked with my hubby and re-registered the girls for school.
And we’ve never looked back.
They’re thriving. I’m rebuilding. We’re all right where we should be.
There’s this “Christian-ese” phrase that says, “If He calls you to it, He’ll bring you through it.” Well, friends? It was evident that we weren’t “called” to homeschool.
AND THAT IS OKAY.
It is important, especially as followers of Jesus, that we trust God to work HIS way. So often we place these expectations on ourselves and others that HE NEVER MEANT TO BE THERE.
God is King. He is sovereign. His plans are good. If He doesn’t want a specific thing for us, why on earth would we try and force it to be so? Even if it LOOKS good?
I would LOVE to have our family be a successful homeschooling one, but it’s just not God’s plan for us at this juncture in our lives. I’m glad we gave it a try so we know that.
To all you homeschooling parents out there, you have my admiration, support and utmost respect. I pray God’s provision for your daily needs in mind, body and spirit and evidence of grace throughout your day.
To the rest of us? I say and pray the exact. same. things. This parenting gig is hard. But God is good. He loves our kids more than we ever could. He will work His will out in their lives; it’s up to us to trust Him to do just that!