I started homeschooling my then 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son 7.5 years ago. We made this decision when we could no longer afford the tuition at their small private Christian school. It was NOT a choice made lightly. But I think we always knew we would someday become a homeschooling family. Today, the students in our one-room schoolhouse are 18, 16, 10, 9, 8, 6, 6, and 2 years old! We have loved this homeschooling life and would not trade it for anything. I am by NO MEANS a homeschooling expert. BUT, between the 8 of them, I have now taught my kiddos at home all grades PreK-12th. And I have learned an awful lot along the way.
Many of you have found yourselves unlikely homeschoolers after the chaos of the past year’s global pandemic. You never imagined yourself as a homeschooling mom. But you were willing to take the leap to do what is best for your children during this unprecedented time. Or maybe you are only just considering the possibility of homeschooling for other reasons. And your mind is filled with myths and stereotypes that have you fearful to take the next step. I SEE YOU! I understand your concerns and have had all of them myself.
The homeschooling lifestyle is not for everyone. But I do believe more families would choose this route for their children if they had a mentor to guide them through their concerns and questions. Let me be that mentor for you today as we talk through some of the things I have learned in the 7+ years I’ve homeschooled my kids. Maybe you’ll find that homeschooling is the perfect fit for your family!
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you are more than qualified to teach your children
I had my share of insecurity when I started homeschooling my (then) 6th and 3rd graders. I knew I could handle, for instance, Elementary school math. But algebra? CHEMISTRY? How would I ever manage to teach upper math and science with only a 12th grade education myself? The wonderful secret to homeschooling is that we don’t have to have all the answers to all the questions! We live in a day and age when we can easily research any topic with our children. And we can find the answers to (most of) our kids questions with only the click of a button!
I was given the advice early on that, in homeschooling, “you only have to be one day smarter than your child“. How freeing is that?!? I’m not saying planning is not important, because it definitely is. An unorganized homeschool day is of no benefit to the child OR the teacher. But I most certainly did not know everything about 7th grade science when my kids were 3rd graders. This is a marathon, not a sprint! Everyday, I sit down with my kids and we dig in to learning together. It’s not me teaching them all the things because I know everything there is to know. It is me putting them in direct contact with great ideas and a feast of living books for them to explore. And us figuring out the answers to their questions TOGETHER.
YOU, as the teacher, are the most important component of your kids’ home education experience. Make a plan for what you want your kids to remember about their homeschooling days as adults. Figure out what YOU think the most important subjects to teach will be. Research your state’s homeschooling requirements. Then plant your flag and stay the course. Decide that who you are is EXACTLY who your children need as their teacher. Order your kids’ affections towards truth, goodness, and beauty. By doing this you will have set a clear path towards success on this homeschooling journey.
“socialization” is a myth
A big concern I hear from prospective homeschooling parents is that they worry their children will turn out “weird” if they are not “socialized”. I think we all would say that we want our children to learn the art of behaving in a way that is acceptable to society. And that they would communicate with others well. Out of pure love for our children, we want them to be embraced by those around them.
However, in sociology, the term “socialization” is the process of internalizing the norms and ideologies of society. In a public school classroom, this would mean that our children would learn to go along with the “status quo” of what our society deems normal. This could mean our children are…
- Ingesting concepts from teachers and textbooks that go against our family’s religious/moral beliefs.
- Seeking out a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” at a young age, simply because of playground peer pressure.
- Denying passions/interests because they do not seem “cool” to others.
- Being exposed to harmful substances and/or images and persuaded they are “normal” for teens to take part in.
- Falling in with kids who do not share their belief systems, simply because of classroom convenience.
I assure you, there are hundreds of ways to teach our homeschooled children social skills and give them opportunities to practice those skills on other children (of all ages!) and on adults. I’d argue that there is no proof that children who are not in traditional school have less refined social skills. In fact, I still remember my 4th grade teacher’s voice constantly reminding my classroom that “school is not a place to socialize”! My 8 kids and their amazing friends have taught me that homeschooling gives kids the gift of taking social pressures away at a very important time in a child’s development. My kids have been able to figure out what they love, what they are passionate about, and the kinds of people they want to be AWAY from the (often harmful) opinions of their peers.
most colleges love homeschooled students
Many people have the wrong idea that it is difficult, if not impossible, for a homeschooled teen to attend college. Or, at the very least, it hinders their teen’s chances of getting into the school of their choice. This is absolutely not true! Homeschooled students typically score slightly above the national average on both the SAT’s and the ACT’s. And they tend to make exceptional college students because most come in as independent learners.
When I graduated highschool in 1999, after homeschooling my last two years (though I did attend public school from K-10th grades), the colleges I looked at required that I get a GED on top of my highschool diploma (which was issued from an accredited private Christian school). This is no longer the case for most private and public colleges. The major hurdle for us as parents is to have a solid grasp on what the colleges our kids are interested in are looking for. Doing the research before our kids begin applying to colleges is the key to being able to tailor our child’s education to what that choice school is looking for. Just be sure to add in lots of passion driven classes and community service!
I’m so excited to write this section after witnessing my daughter receive her acceptance letter to her dream college. She was a Dual Enrolled highschool/college student for 3 years and graduated highschool with 37 completed college credit hours. We are SO proud of her. And she is NOT the exception to the rule! She is very smart, but has to work HARD for every high grade she receives. Good grades definitely do not come easily for her. We plan to make the most of free Dual Enrollment classes for (most of) our children as long as our state programs continue to pay for them.
*Be sure to comment below if you are interested in a post on homeschooling highschool and making the most of Dual Enrollment Classes!
your kids only have one childhood
The most impactful thing I’ve learned over the past 7.5 years is that homeschooling is NOT schooling at home. It’s not taking everything your child would do in a traditional classroom with 25 other kids and replicating it with your 3 kids in your dining room. It is about freeing up your time so that your kids can learn in their own way and at their own pace. And it’s about creating a family culture with traditions, experiences, and memories that will last far longer than long division and chemistry experiments.
Your kids…my kids…only have one childhood. It feels as if our country has sped up the process of learning and turned it into a race to the finish line. We label kids as “behind” in preschool! For my Elementary kids, I have adopted a schole (restful learning) approach to our home education philosophy. We read the Bible and good books everyday. The kids write something everyday. We do math everyday. And most days we do a lot more on top of that! But the 3 timeless “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic” subjects keep me grounded and assure me we’ve done “enough”. And we make LOTS of time for play. Because PLAY is the absolute best way for kids under 10-years-old to learn.
you can do this!
Homeschooling is a job that should be taken seriously because it is a high calling. But I have gained so much peace in knowing that God calls us to be FAITHFUL with this calling, not successful. He wants us to show up each and everyday and pour into our kids without looking to their academic success as our validation. As homeschooling moms, we plan our days and then hold those daily plans with gentle, open hands. We are so fortunate to get to light a fire of learning in our children that they will take with them the rest of their lives. What a gift.
“Faithfulness is showing up everyday to do the work He has called us to. Whether or not things turn out in the end as I am hoping they will (for my children to have a strong faith, humble and compassionate hearts, a love of learning, and an academic skill set that helps them seek out knowledge and truth every day and everywhere) it is not actually within my span of control. It’s not my assigned task. He isn’t asking me to succeed on the world’s terms. He’s asking me to faithfully do the work. He’s calling me to be faithful and trust Him for the results, which may not look like what I was expecting. Success in God’s eyes may not always look like the success we were seeking, but if we are faithful, we will know His peace.” – Sarah Mackenzie “Teaching From Rest – A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace”
the blessings of homeschooling
I hope you were able to breath a little easier after reading some of the things I have learned after schooling my kids at home for 7.5 years. I want to end this post with a list of the blessings our family has personally received because of saying yes to this homeschooling journey. It has not always been easy. But it has always been worth it.
- Our kids spend all day everyday together, which has given them a unique bond. Their one-room schoolhouse creates an environment of learning together, praying together, playing together, and working out their disagreements under the guidance of their parents.
- We are able to have a flexible learning schedule. Our youngest 5 children’s special needs require many specialist visits and therapies. Because of that, Elementary school learning at our house takes place after lunch while the two little ones rest. This leaves mornings free for appointments.
- Our kids can work at their own pace. Some are working on advanced math. Some need extra help with spelling. Our youngest daughter has Down syndrome and I haven’t worried for one second about her “success” in school because her curriculum is totally geared to her abilities and will set her up for confidence.
- We teach all subjects (except math) from a Biblical Worldview. This is perhaps the most important reason we homeschool. We want our kids to see that God has had a hand in everything from the beginning and that His work didn’t stop at the final book of the Bible. Everyday we ask ourselves, “What has God been up to and why?”
- No Grades (until highschool) = Less Stress. Until our kids are 13, they are not graded (except in their online math program). Because I am able to work one-on-one with each of my kids, I know where they struggle and where they excel. This means I can watch for mastery instead of assigning a “bad” grade when a child is not yet grasping a concept.
- As I stated above, our high-schoolers are able to concentrate on Dual Enrollment college credit, which is a huge financial blessing in addition to giving our kids classroom experience before they technically leave home for college.
If you are a new homeschooling mom or are considering homeschooling, I hope you’ll check out my list of Best Books For Homeschooling Inspiration! My list of Encouraging Books For Christian Mothers is also a great source of inspiration. Read more about our family’s story here!