I remember when I began to consider whether or not we would be homeschooling our children. When people asked me questions I was defensive, unsure, off balance, and scared.
Some moments I thought I was nuts. Other moments I thought it was the greatest idea since the invention of the wheel.
Some days I had no confidence we would succeed. And, other days I thought our kids would become powerhouses for Him in a world of confusion and disorder.
My thoughts and emotions have moved across the map as we have toed our way into and through these initial few years of homeschooling. But, I have decided once and for all that we are in this.
Even when it does not “look right” we are committed to see it through to its completion.
Homeschooling: It’s Not about HOW…
It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways there are to do the same thing and accomplish the same goal. We are, however, often inundated with the idea that there is only one single right choice to homeschool. And if you don’t choose it, you are on the road to no where fast.
Homeschooling has been on this roller coaster in my mind. I have endured seasons where I did not measure up to what I thought I was supposed to be doing.
Usually, of course, my confusion was based on my limited understanding about what other homeschoolers are doing.
Maybe you are like me and struggle with these battles of perception and comparison. If so, I’m glad you are here today so we can unpack the lies and get to the truth.
Homeschool, like any kind of long-term event, is a “roller coaster.” It has its ups and downs, its direction changes, and sometimes throws a few curve balls.
It is a life wrapped up in teaching and training; winding education into the fabric of true living.
This is not its weakness, however, but a very strong aspect of its strength…if you embrace it.
Through these past seven years of declared homeschooling, every year has looked different. In fact, not ONE has looked even remotely like the one I had pictured in my head during my “planning session.”
There’s a phrase we use in our household that has really stuck these past few years. In the case of homeschooling, it absolutely helps to clarify our vision:
Be fluid, because flexible is just too rigid.”
I love it.
It hasn’t always been easy…
When I first started “homeschooling,” my oldest daughter was all of 4 years old, but I was eager to make a decision on the matter and have something to qualify to answer seeking friends and family.
So, I enrolled her into a local homeschooling group, and quickly burned myself to the ground.
You see, I’m one of those people who jumps in with both feet, but thankfully I am also a quick learner. I did not repeat that same mistake the next year.
The truth is, though, that I have failed repeatedly, especially in the early years. I pushed my kids too hard and felt like I did not know at all what I was doing.
But, thankfully, over time we have settled into a normalcy with homeschooling that has brought us the blessings that cannot be quantified.
We love and enjoy each other. We are constantly sharpened and challenged to grow and apply the character of God against the sinfulness of our flesh.
…It’s About WHY
When my first few children were entering into the official “school age” category, I was compelled to keep things as simple as possible.
I confess, at first I had this BIG plan that included all kinds of activities and projects and trips and books. But as I soon realized that this kind of busyness is not at all beneficial for me as a person, I also had to realize a plan that would truly work for us.
I do not believe there is one right way to homeschool.
I do believe that the core reason you choose to homeschool is important.
The ultimate WHY, the crux of the choice, ultimately leads to an end result of either commitment and dedication to the choice to homeschool, or a return to the standard out-of-home-school programs.
Each household carries their own “why.”
For us, homeschooling is a result of our family’s values. Sure, raging against the machine of the “system” could top a list or two, but this is not REALLY the driving element behind our commitment.
The values that are incredibly important to us are freedom, independence, flexibility, opportunity for creativity, the chance to embrace the uniqueness of each person as made in the image of God, and so many more things.
If we turned our backs on these values we would be turning our backs on the core philosophies that make us who we are.
For us, this means that the weaknesses and failures of the moment simply become one more learning opportunity to help grow us into more capable teachers for the next season we endure.
You CAN do this
What I did not understand fully when I jumped onto this homeschooling train was that our school would change over time as the kids matured and aged.
The pattern and schedule, and workload, etc. grows to meet them where they are, slowly and gradually, step by step.
In my mind, I officially began homeschooling the moment I made the declaration.
For me, that was when my daughter was four.
The truth is that I had been homeschooling her from the moment she was born.
I taught her baby sign language (aff link) when she was a baby and she learned a hundred signs. This is a pattern that we established in our home and have carried on with every child since (though no one else has learned that many).
I taught her colors, shapes, how to hold a crayon, the name of various objects she observed. We read books together, played games, sang songs, etc.
However, I had a mental crisis when she was about two years old. I realized that she soon had to get a REAL education.
I certainly had been programmed to think that “lessons at home are not really education.” It took a long time to override that line of thinking.
Lessons learned at home are far more valuable than any you could learn from a book. They teach life skills and thought processes and viewpoints in the world.
We seek to not just teach them what to think, but HOW to think.
And I can think of no better way to teach that then at home.
Define what Homeschooling means to YOU
As much as I truly value education and learning, knowledge in and of itself is not my goal for homeschooling.
My vision is much more broad and eternal than this limited application.
For me, we will succeed in homeschooling if our children reach adulthood with these three things
- a biblical worldview
- the ability to think and articulate thought,
- and the ability to analyze the wisdom of something to determine its rightful place in their lives.
For us, everything else we do to train their minds is secondary to these primary purposes.
Math lessons, learning to read, holding a pencil the right way are all good and great. But what we really focused on is character development through learning, no matter what that happens to look like each day.
It is more important to us to raise quality people than to jam a bunch of facts and figures into their minds.
And when character skills are present, intelligence will inevitably follow.
This is so good, a refreshing taste of grace. My 6 yr old daughter has been struggling with reading a lot. We just got a new puppy and I feel good about letting my kids take him for walks, but I worry about people judging and calling the cops, I don’t even let them cross any roads, but they are out of sight for a block. Sometimes the worst part of homeschooling is always having to justify yourself to others.
So so so true. I fear that we are going to have to face a lot while this is fleshed out in the system, but I also believe it is critical that we not back down from our Constitutional Rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Are you on Facebook too? I share a lot right now on this issue because it is happening so often. Also, I highly recommend HSLDA if you are not yet a member. They’re awesome and highly engaged in this fight! =0)
Nikki McCuen Crespo says
Even though this is my fifth year of homeschooling, I’m finding myself led to make some major shifts in how we do things. To step back a bit from the books, play more, be outside more. Relax and have fun. It scares me to death! Our schooling has been very centered around getting the curriculum done (and we love it!) but school and life have been a bit separated, more traditional, more like PS. That’s what I know and feel “safe” with, but I am yearning from something different. It’s kinda hard to explain, but I feel it coming and I’m totally resisting it out of fear. I have been slowly letting go and gaining some peace about it in the last week or so.
I like what you said about building character and pointing our children towards God and teaching them the tools for learning, not necessarily the knowledge itself (although the knowledge is good also and I believe will come).
Praying for peace and confidence, knowing that God is guiding us.
Julie Filter says
Nikki, I totally know what you mean. I know that feeling to release the reigns very well, and I encourage you to trust that still small voice who is leading you to something greater! =0) I know how scary it is to give the control over to Him (I’m a recovering control freak who likes to try to steal back the reigns from time to time) but it truly is for our benefit, even if it means facing some giants along the way! Stick to it, Mama. You’re doing awesome, and this new adventure will be sure to simply take you and your family to the next level =0) ~Shalom
I SOOOOOO understand that struggle of sort of combining play and school together!!! That’s been part of our vision too from the beginning. Are you thinking more along the lines of unschooling? I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but in case you haven’t, unschooling might be the vision you’re seeing. Good luck!!!!!
Melissa Collins says
I am a “newcomer” to homeschooling-this is our first year. What lead us/me to homeschool is issues that were going on with our school from being affected by public school. Since he is being homeschooled, I figured, might as well do our daughter too. I don’t know if I’m doing things right. We’re doing a hodge-podge of curriculum for science, math, ELA, Biblical and history. We sometimes do music and art, but I think I’d like to do more of that when we start again after the holidays. Math is what we have the most trouble with, I’m not sure about grades and if they should/need to test at the end of the year. How do we know we’re doing things right and teaching them what they need to learn? If and when in the future they go to public school for high school, will they be ready?
Julie Filter says
Those are some great questions, Melissa. I would suggest HSLDA as a first resource for you check out your state’s requirements for reporting or testing, and then anything else noteworthy that they add. Regarding doing things “right,” I would encourage you to allow for this to be a process, as it usually is, and focus on developing kids of character above all else, and then academics after that. If their character is in place, even a setback in academics can be remedied over time, but getting ahead academically but not growing in character can have a lifetime of problems following it. If you are concerned about grading for math, I recommend looking into programs that grade the work for you. We have liked Teaching Textbooks for our oldest this year, who is doing grade 6. At this point we have found a plan that works for is which uses both the computer and the book for her work. But, it’s important to find your flow with this new plan. And, if you’re goal is not really to be homeschooling long term, then working by your state’s expectations and even their curriculum might be preferred. But, I encourage you to determine in their plan is sufficient to your expectations and desires for your kids’ education. I hope that helps. Please let me know if there are any other questions you have. Blessings!
I love this so much. One thing I’m struggling with is embracing our “off” days as successful days. And usually (after the fact) I realize that those off days are still amazing opportunities to teach. Usually its more life lessons in those days rather than academics. And I struggle with internalizing that those types of lessons are totally valid too. Any tips on keeping those things in my mind during those moments? Or is it simply something that comes over time?
I do think that it tends to come with time, but simply reminding yourself that the world is your classroom is a great way to begin to see learning through a new lens. This might be the kind of motto that needs to get posted up in a visible space for you to see and remember throughout your days. I find that when I have something tangible to remind myself of what it is I am trying to create that I am better able to reel in my emotions when I lose sight of my why and the goals that come with it. =0) I hope that helps!