Tell Me What You REALLY Think About Homeschooling

We are in our fourth year of homeschooling.  It’s great and challenging; full of wonderful things and also full of headaches and moments of insanity.  The first year or two that we homeschooled, I didn’t hear too much negativity from other people about our choice.  I faced some opposition, but overall, people politely smiled and said (perhaps falsely, but who cares) “Good for you!”

I’m pretty sure the Lord was protecting my sensitive and insecure spirit during those first years.  I was so unsure of myself, I surely couldn’t have handled anyone else being unsure of me, too.  So I took all those smiles and fake “good for yous” and just pretended the world was supportive and thought the best of my family’s little adventure in education.

Lately, I’ve been amused at how opinionated people like to be with touchy subjects like homeschooling.  In the last year, I’ve faced comments such as (all comments listed below have actually been said to someone in my family)….

“And they just let  you do that?!”  Apparently “they” is the authorities and this individual was shocked I wasn’t in jail.  Thank heavens America isn’t there yet.

“You’re not going to do that THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH,  are you?”  The  question sounded slightly menacing.

To my children, “Do you even learn?”  My kids were so dumbfounded by this question, they kind of laughed and then became speechless.  They have obviously not learned how to respond to preposterous questions.

“The thing I’m jealous about with kids that homeschool is they get way more days off.”  Oh, contrary, youngster.  We school through all those ridiculous holidays your government-funded school takes off.  And no, they don’t get to do their school in their PJ’s.

“The good thing about Common Core is that it will keep homeschoolers accountable, like the homeschooling mom who sits home all day and watches Dr. Phil.”  I would like to find said mom and give her a stern talking-to.  Because 1. Dr. Phil  makes ya’all stupider and 2. you’re making the rest of us look bad.  Come on.

I won’t even bother with the usual culprits, “What about their socialization?  But how do you know how to teach if you don’t have a teaching degree?  It’s so nice that you’re home all day–can you watch my kids?  We send our kids to school because we don’t think that we should isolate/over-protect/insulate/quarantine them.”

I rarely have to wonder what people think about the education that we’re giving our kids.  They are so happy to offer me their generous thoughts!

Unfortunately, many people obviously don’t hold homeschooling in high regard.  The people-pleaser in me really has to work hard to put this aside.  I know that I have high educational expectations for my kids (based on their capabilities).  I know that homeschooling is about more than just the kind of education that school can give.  I also have the responsibility of molding Godly behaviors, teaching respect that starts with a fear of the Lord, and showing the love and forgiveness that Christ showed us.  I want my children to love science because God created the world around them.  I want them to understand math to see that God is a God of order, not disorder.  I want them to love literature so that they can empathize with people and understand different perspectives.   I want them to enjoy music and art so that they can express joy and praise to God.  I want them to learn to get along with their family members (often the ones we struggle the most to get along with!) so that they can learn to work out differences and learn loyalty and kindness.

It’s not for everyone.  I’m not one to defend my choice by demeaning yours.  With prayer and God’s grace, public or private school won’t ruin your kid, just like by the same grace, I won’t ruin mine by teaching them at home!  Show the love, people.  (And keep your opinion to yourself until someone asks for it.)





100% does not leave me with enough percentages…..

My life feels split up into about 50 pieces lately.  So many things going on, so many things I should be doing, so many things I feel responsible for.  There’s only so much I can give out on a daily basis and it ends up making me feel like I’m not able to put my all or my best into anything.  Everything is suffering.  Giving 100% to each day might mean that my kids only get 15%, my husband 10%, housework 20%, ministry 20%, feeding my family a good meal 15%, the hope of getting any quiet time with the Lord or getting in any exercise–10%, the extras–running errands, trying to focus on photography, balancing the checkbook, encouraging a friend–10%.  Which means that nothing is getting the effort or attention it needs or deserves.  Which means that I feel like a failure and a loser at the end of every day.  Which means I can hardly catch my breath or still my racing heart as I think of the next day where I’m giving way too little of myself to way too many things again.

I think that one of my least favorite, over-used words is “balance.”  I might live in a different world than all these people who claim they’ve found “balance” in their lives, but my life seems less like a balancing act and way more like a juggling act.  And I really hate juggling.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Four years ago we packed up all of our belongings and moved out of the suburbs to a small little town.  We were ready to get out of the rat race, we wanted to slow life down, we wanted to downsize our living expenses so that I could stay at home and focus on being a mom and a wife.  Somehow the rat race caught up with me here in this small little town.  I typically have less than one day a week where I am not obligated to an activity or a person outside of our family.  Even when we lived in the suburbs and I spent three days a week commuting back and forth to the city to work, I had at least two full days a week that were saved just for me to spend time with our daughter, catch up on chores, housework, etc.  I have less of that “home” time now and I have an extra child in the mix.  I’m not quite sure how that happened or how this year in particular became so demanding.  I’m sure a big part of it started with me saying a lot of “yeses” and not enough “nos.”

Where Do I Go From Here?

Homeschooling begins next year for our oldest daughter and before it even begins, I want to somehow take a snapshot of this moment in time, I want to freeze the sheer panic I feel on a daily basis, I want to remember this stressful time well enough to stay firm in the “home” aspect of “homeschooling” next year.  Commitments for the here and now have already been made and I have to fulfill those commitments.  I can only focus on surviving to the best of my ability and maybe lowering my standards in a few areas so that I don’t completely beat myself up before summer begins.  The only change I can really make is for the future.  I want to promise to myself and to my family to reserve our weekdays for school, family time, and ministry that we can do as a family.  Lord, give me the strength to uphold that promise!  Give me the courage to say no!  And help me do more than just survive until then…..give me the energy and the strength to give as much as I can to what I have before me.

Reliving Childhood Joy

Today I was Christmas shopping at the local bookstore.  This is dangerous.  I love reading SO much and I love giving the gift of books to my children and to anyone else who loves to read like I do!

Today I limited myself to shopping for my girls and my two youngest nephews.  I walked circles around the children’s section, trying to narrow down my choices.  For my four-year-old, I found a “Fancy Nancy” book which I’ve heard a lot about and which looks cute.  Then my eye ventured over to the “intermediate” section (meaning for “intermediate” readers, not “beginner” readers, of which Annika is neither, mind you).  My eye spied a “Charlotte’s Web” book and I thought that Annika might enjoy hearing that story since she loves the movie.  I grabbed it and noticed a “Ramona” collection….oh, remember the “Ramona” books?  I thought those books were so funny!  I briefly considered getting those, but remembered that there might be some situations that would be work to explain to my four-year-old.

And then…behold….my glance fell upon one of my favorite books from girlhood: “Betsy & Tacy.”  How I loved borrowing “Betsy and Tacy” books from the library!  I remember reading them when I was quite young, so I figured that Annika might be up to listening to me read them to her.  Tonight I googled “Betsy and Tacy” (because I’m random and nerdy like that) and found that there is a whole website and “society” dedicated to these books (other people/geeks must love this series as much as I do!).  I wanted to share with any homeschool moms that have daughters that there is a page on the website specifically for teachers and librarians with reading guides and questions.

Oh, I can’t wait until Christmas!  (No wonder I find no excitement in getting my own gifts anymore….I am way more excited about what my children are getting than anything I could possibly get!)