The Down and Dirty Truth about Homeschooling

So, we’re homeschooling. I’ve mentioned that I think, but I don’t think I’ve told you about how we arrived at that decision, about how it’s impacted our life, and about how it hasn’t.

Before we even knew we were leaving Arvada, circumstances began to align in such a way that we felt led to homeschool. Adelle was in a public school in Arvada, and our experience there was good. Truly good. We did not choose to homeschool because we thought the public school system was failing us. But the more I studied the classical education model, the more sense it made to me – the more it sounded like a thing that would produce thriving, free-thinking, life-long learners – capable of having and defending their own thoughts and opinions in a thoughtful, respectful way. Homeschooling would also allow us to introduce our kids to certain ideas on our own timetable – all things sex, evolution, etc. We are not afraid of our children learning about those things, but we would like to decide when it’s best to explain those ideas to them.

So, we began to pray about the idea, and after a series of events tripped over each other and fell at our feet, our answer seemed very clear. We would take Adelle out of a school she loved, and I would teach her at home.

Now, let me say that this was not the easy answer for us. Adelle and I, um, find ourselves at impasse at least once a day. We love each other a lot – and also we drive each other crazy. So, the thought of us being together all the day every day again made me nervous, real nervous. Throw in a preschooler and a toddler – and lawsy, I was terrified.

Fast forward to our move, to the fact that we didn’t know what school district we would find ourselves in for the short term or the long term – and not enrolling Adelle in a school that she would just have to leave when we got settled, well that seemed like some pretty spectacular forethought on God’s part.

Now, there are a few things that, 6 weeks in, homeschooling at my parents’ house while we try to find a home to live in, etc, etc, etc – that I thought might be helpful for anyone that has ever considered keeping your kids at home for a year:

  1. It’s not that hard. I want to be careful here not to give unrealistic expectations. I am a semi-organized person who has been working with children in some capacity for most of my life. Even so, I’m not a trained teacher, and it’s legitimately not that hard. The planning and teaching part, at least. So, don’t feel like – oh gosh, how will I ever teach my kids? I’m not a teacher! You don’t have to be. Seriously.
  2. It’s crazy, super hard. For this first year, at least, I have lost my ability to do much beyond be present with my kids all week. I feel like that might adjust a bit once we are in a space of our own, but for the time being – during the week – I am basically interacting with one of my kids at all times, which can be exhausting for all parties involved. The whining and the shouting and the neediness – I’m only one person!
  3. You get to modify the plan. We are not a lifelong homeschooling family. We are a year by year, child by child family. And as we have moved into this year, we are finding that my middle one, Marilee, who hasn’t spent much time in an organized classroom, is excelling in everything I’m teaching her – to the point that I can’t quite keep up with her – and the best thing we can do for her is put her in a preschool experience – to see what might be best for her next year. So, Adelle and Jude will be home with me in the mornings while Marilee is in preschool. And next year, Adelle might just go back into public school. Or maybe private – but prolly not because of the dollars.
  4. Life is school. We’ve had to adjust our thinking. We are still trying to adjust our thinking. It’s school when we read a story or count to 100 or measure out flour. It’s school when we talk about what day of the week it is – what day it was yesterday and what day it will be tomorrow. It’s school when we look at prices of items in the grocery store and determine whether or not we have enough left in the weekly budget for the ice cream or not. It’s school when we drill our math facts while racing across the swimming pool. It’s school when we learn manners during a tea party. Life is one grand learning experience – it would do us all good to remember that once in a while.
  5. Yesterday, I wanted to quit. Again, let me reiterate that our current experience is not the norm. We are in schooling in transition and will be doing so for a good month more. And yesterday, Adelle felt defeated, Marilee felt overlooked, Jude felt – loud, and I felt like the worst mama ever. Tired and all wrong – but then I remembered why we chose this for the year. Because of the slow – because we want our kids to grow up good and slow. And so if for a year, they are bored out of their minds (which I am learning how to combat), that’s okay – because life is slower than it would be if she was in school. And it wouldn’t be all bad if she was in school – honestly – but God said to go this route this year – and so we are sticking with it – trusting His sovereignty.
  6. I am learning as much as they are. While I am learning/re-learning all sorts of fantastic facts and concepts, I am also learning a great deal about myself – about my weaknesses, and my strengths. About trying too hard and not hard enough. About harsh tones and gracious touches. About each of my kids – how they learn – just how different they all are. That I need Jesus again and again and again all day long if I’m going to have a fighting chance at doing this well. About how much it matters that they see me needing Jesus.
I’ll try to stop in every six weeks to give you an update – for anyone who is curious – about our homeschooling journey. I don’t feel like I have a lot of concrete advice to give you right now simply because we are just beginning to make some good, concrete decisions. Ask anything you want – and I’ll tell you what I have and haven’t learned so far!

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