Ok here it is, I'm finally admitting it... I'm a homeschool mom!
I don’t even really know why it was so hard for me to accept. I guess I didn’t (don’t) always feel qualified. I’m not really an academic/children’s teacher at heart. I honestly get along so much better with adults then kids, but here I am homeschooling, living way out of my comfort zone. I’m learning so much right along side my kids and I’m excited to see every year how far we’ve all come.
Every new school year I pray and ask the Lord if I should send my children to school or if I should keep them home. If I should join a co-op of go solo at home? Should my kids be in extra curricular activities (because everyone else’s kids are) or should I take the year off and focus on them at home? Etc.. You get the idea. So based on what the answer is, that's what I do. I won’t be sharing in detail on here what exactly we are doing this year because it changes year to year and also you should do what’s best for your family not based what someone else is doing. Don’t allow peer pressure, judgment from others, opinions of your family or friends, and even your own kids to manipulate you into signing up for things that you know you shouldn’t be doing this year.
Anyway back to “why we started homeschooling”. For pre-k my husband and I, decided to give our local Christian School a try for our oldest daughter. (I was still refusing to even consider keeping them home at the time). I want to say that we loved it but that was not the case. I personally liked the pre-school my daughter was attending and she enjoyed it, when she was there. But to get her there most of the time was a real struggle. Starting from home, she would cry the whole way there and then we had to '“peal her of the leg” most of the time, in order to leave her there. My twins were just born and since it was hard to get out of the house on time every day to drop her off and pick her up, I had help from family, in driving her. Occasionally they would bring her home shortly after leaving, because she refused to stay. Picking her up, she would usually cry too, this time because she didn't want to go home. Ahhhh imagine dealing with that on a daily basis, with two babies and a toddler!
She did GREAT ones she was in class only if the environment stayed the same. But as soon as anything changed, a substitute or they asked her do something out of her comfort zone, she would clam up and not want to go back. It would take days again to get her back to her normal, happy, trusting self, just for something else to come up and the same thing would start all over. She was shy and uncomfortable around strangers. During that season I did a lot of research and studied her. I also went back through memory lane, to my own childhood to try and figure things out.
You see, I was the same way as a child. I was always trembling inside when I was in an unfamiliar circumstance, being away from my parents or at school with a substitute teacher, I remember being terrified. As a child I was very obedient and didn't want to let anyone know that I was afraid, I would bare through it, and often would go to the school bathroom and just cry, out of overwhelm. I remember constantly praying for the Lord to help me through the day. Praise God, I somehow I made it through elementary school!
After doing some research on anxiety and attachment in children, I learned that children who struggle with it need to be in a safe, predictable environment in order for them to learn properly and to thrive. I should add, some people think that I somehow brought this upon my child or that a parent can, or even that it can be prevented by “over socializing” your baby on up but that is not true for us. It’s who she is and how she was created. I had her while we were living on a collage campus, we were constantly surrounded by people. Went to worship and classes on most mornings, I babysat children, took her to the playground multiple times a day where she would be around other kids and of coarse adults. But she was only one, when I started noticing her anxiety, with a lot of unfamiliar people. Mind you, she did go to pre-school at fourteen months and loved it! (We had no struggles there).
Learning that helped me understand my children and even myself. It all made sense to me, as to why as a kid I would always lock up in bathrooms just to be alone. Or as a teenager I would always get away from big crowds to go on a walk or sit somewhere alone. It’s how I coped, and now I’m helping my children learn that it’s ok if they need that time for themselves. And that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. (A lie I believed about myself for a very long time).
I might not seem as shy anymore (to those that knew me before I came out of my shell) but I'm still an introvert by nature. It took me years of being in the comfort of my own home with the right surroundings. And truth spoken over me by the Lord and my husband, for me to finally open up and become the person I am today. I am still growing and learning a lot. Having children has helped me tremendously, to deal with and overcome past issues, of insecurity, anxiety, attachment, fear and whatever else comes up.
Out of four children, two of them lean more this way and two of them could care less. Most of them have actually grown out of it. I’m not sure how or why but sometimes it comes and goes in seasons for a few of my kids. I know not all children struggle with this, one of mine doesn’t and can’t comprehend what the big deal is for his siblings.
At first I was really embarrassed about them being this way, but after reading and learning about all this, I am no longer ashamed. We are each unique in our own way and just because some of us aren’t extroverts by nature doesn't mean we are any less than, then those that are. I am living proof that anyone can learn to be comfortable and confident, in the right environment and with the proper guidance.
One huge reason that I enjoy having my kids home with me is that they can be themselves. No comparison, they can develop at their own pace, in their own way. I absolutely love that!
One of my kids didn’t really click into academic mode until well into first grade. I would have his attention for maybe half an hour each day to do a little bit of school work and the rest of the time he was outside playing, creating things, looking through books or helping me in the kitchen. (He loooves to cook). Most of the time he just wanted to be alone. By the end of the year, something clicked and he all of a sudden knew how to read, his hand writing was almost as neat as his older sister and he was fully present when I needed him to be. If he was in a “normal” school from what I hear, he probably would have been labeled as a slow learner or I would have been told he needs to be held back (I hear that a lot from people) or maybe I would have been told he has ADHD since he can’t sit still and pay attention what felt like, AT ALL. But because I was able to be patient with him and give him the freedom to learn at his own pace, in his own way, he is now excelling and has pretty much caught up to his sister.
I was that child in school who needed extra help (always) no one really had the patience or time to sit with me and try a variety of ways to find out how exactly I learn and what works for me. The way I made it through school is, I would memorize things just to pass the test and a few weeks later I would have no idea how or what to do. I truly did love to learn but the pace of things and constantly being surrounded by people overwhelmed me and I would shut down internally. I want my children to enjoy learning and to know that it’s ok to take extra time if you need it. I now realize that over stimulation and the constant peer pressure isn’t exactly natural or healthy. It works great for some people but more and more I’m hearing that it doesn’t for the majority of us.
For us academics are about twenty percent of what we do each day, the rest is life. Learning to live “real” life is more important than straight A’s in my opinion. (I was an A student and want my kids to be as well but it doesn’t define who they are) Their relationship with the Lord, people around them and their character have waaaaay more meaning and is as important now as it will be when they finish school and leave my home.
The reason schools were set up is because parents didn’t know how to read or write and were not educated at all, to teach their children. Over time that has changed but it’s still considered normal to send your five year old “ready or not” off to an oversized classroom for almost all their waking hours, even though it is no longer necessary. I’m not here to go into history though but there’s plenty of great recourses out there if you’r interested.
Each child/family is unique in their own special way. And I think that's amazing! So you do what works for your family and children. I originally did NOT want to homeschool and so many times I wished (and still do) that I could just have an hour or two alone to myself. But after I've embraced the fullness of homeschool and all it has to offer, I have come to absolutely love it! I think it also helps that my kids have gotten older and aren’t as dependent on me for survival anymore. Haha.
We started out our homeschooling journey out of needing to, because of my child’s personality and also we were moving across the country, so out of convenience. That first official year a few people came into my life who guided me on this journey. They encouraged me to do what my heart felt like I should do and I realized that even though I might not have had the support of my close family or those I wanted it from, the Lord sent people into my life that were there for me. Through that I became more confident in what I do and I’m so thankful for the truth that they spoke to me and didn’t hold back. Every year I realize more and more what being a mother/teacher is and it’s a privilege that I’m beyond thankful for. I believe I have officially decided that I’m not going back!
All kids and parents are different, my kids like to be home with me, we do field trips as often as we need to. I have one child, that if we go out more than a few times a week, will beg to stay home, to be alone and without people. Although he is almost completely opposite of my oldest (more shy child), he loves to meet new people and is usually the first one to come up to someone new, to talk to them. He still needs to just be home, being alone energizes him. Learning my kids personalities and different learning styles has been a lot of fun on this journey.
Whenever I commit to big things like this, I always have to know (from the Lord) that this is what I need to be doing. Because if I don't, it's so easy to lose focus and forget “why” I do what I do, especially when times get tough. And they DO believe me! I hang on to his word for our family and it gets us through any season.
Like I mentioned before, I pray each year about sending my kiddos to school or keeping them home again. This time when I asked the Lord about next year, he didn't delay but answered me almost an hour later. I really had to laugh, it's as if He was saying "are you seriously asking me this again!?" I don’t know how long I will be homeschooling for but with every year, I feel more and more grateful for the opportunity to be home with my little people. (They don’t stay little forever!) So it looks to me that I might be doing this till the end. They are growing sooo fast and I can’t imagine missing out on half their childhood because they would be in school/extra curricular activities.
That’s me though and not everyone feels that way about their kids, I totally understand. Most people that try to homeschool, do it for kindergarten or first grade and give up in the hard times. But if you push through those difficult seasons and years of adjusting, you might find that better days are yet to come!
Through this journey the Lord has been working on me, changing me and growing me in ways I would never be able to, if I didn't have my children along side me. I would probably still think “I’m prefect”! Slightly kidding, but they do stretch you and show you who you really are haha. My relationship with them gets tested often but the more we get to know each other and how differently we are all wired the more fun things become.
My husband and I make this decision together, he is always my number one support! Either if I decide to keep them home or send them to school. The topic of homeschooling was one of our very first arguments as a dating couple haha. He insisted that I would homeschool and I was set 100% that I will NEVER EVER do such a thing. I still don't feel qualified sometimes. I’m an introvert, I do like and need my alone time everyday, which is really hard to come by with the kids being home with me, 24/7! But God is good and we manage to live through it, one day at a time and still love life and each other!
I shared our journey of how we came to the decision to homeschool because I feel like it’s important for people to know that anyone can do it! Either you’re the parent who’s dreamed about this for years or the parent who doesn’t want to but feels led to. You can do this! I’m living proof that it can be done! I’m sure looking back, you won’t regret it. Let me know where you are in your journey. If you have any questions write me, I’ll try to answer them in future homeschooling entries.
If you’re a homeschooling mama and things are tough, know that you are not alone. You got this, you’re the best mama/teacher for your children, the Lord doesn’t make mistakes.