This past school year was my first year homeschooling my children. I have been hesitant to write about it, because I still feel like I know very little compared to veteran homeschool moms who’ve been doing this for years.
To put it simply, I committed to homeschooling my two boys (third grade and first grade) because I felt God was calling me to do it. I gave in after much kicking and screaming; I had a list a mile long of justifications of why I shouldn’t homeschool. I already felt frazzled with two newly adopted children at home and being pregnant on top of it. I didn’t want to give up the little time I had to myself during the day. I couldn’t figure out how I’d find the time to prep each night. I was worried about me and my children being lonely and isolated. I dreaded just doing homework with my boys after they came home from elementary school; how was I going to survive hours and hours teaching them every day? And the list went on…
I did tons of research and felt completely overwhelmed by all the choices out there. But, I bucked up, found a mostly-comprehensive curriculum that advertised a reasonable amount of prep time, and clicked the order button.
And now that we’re almost done the school year, I’m in re-evaluation and reflection mode. I’ll save my thoughts on curriculum for another post, but I do want to share some of the positive things homeschooling has done for our family. Here are just a few of the many blessings our family and I have experienced as a result of our decision to homeschool.
1. Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to know my boys so much better. A few hours in the morning and again at night last year while they were attending public school simply wasn’t enough time for me to truly understand my kids: how they learn, what motivates them, what causes them to melt down.
2. Homeschooling has allowed my boys to catch up in areas that they were behind. In August, Milo could not even read half of his kindergarten sight words (from the previous year). He has now mastered two books of sight words and is on third-grade-level sight words. He knows many, many more words than just the ones he has memorized as sight words and now knows how to successfully decode many new words. Milo can now read full articles, whole books, and even passages of the Bible. He has come so far in math that he is ready for advanced second-grade concepts and is begging to learn multiplication. I realize that developmental maturity does play a role in his learning, but I do not believe that this much progress would have been possible if it weren’t for homeschooling.
My older son, Ely, has finally learned how to read math word problems and understand how to do them on his own and what operation each entails. We started multiplication at the beginning of the year, and Ely still struggles with memorization, but he knows probably about 3/4 of his multiplication facts. That is a huge accomplishment for him.
Ely has also gotten to the point that he can not only read a passage himself and figure out unfamiliar words with context clues, but he can also read the comprehension questions and pull meaning out of the passage in order to answer them. He read his first chapter books this year without me wanting to pull my hair out listening to him struggle through a few pages.
3. Homeschooling has given me the chance to “brush up” on my facts and learn new ones. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying with my children, particularly the Bible and history. Reading and talking about God’s Word together is such a great way to start each day. I have been amazed by how many times our daily verses were just what Mommy needed to hear, too.
This past year, we studied American history. I am NOT an American history buff, but I found myself getting excited about learning new things, especially when I saw how much my boys were soaking in the stories.
4. Homeschooling has allowed me to teach my children life skills in addition to educational skills. My boys have learned how to cook, clean, craft, garden (well, kind of…I’m terrible at keeping plants alive), and take care of their younger brother and sisters, among other things.
5. Homeschooling has created stronger bonds between me and my children and between siblings. The kids have come to appreciate their brothers and sisters and to play and learn along side each other.
I’m grateful for the extra time all the kids were able to spend with Rose before her passing. If the boys had attended public school this year, they would have missed out on two-and-a-half months with their sister.
6. After Rose died, homeschooling gave our family the freedom and to grieve separately and together, in our own way, in our own time. During the days one of us was having a really hard time, we were able to take a step back from our normal schedule to work through the sadness. There were many nights that one or more of us did not sleep because of tears or nightmares. Homeschool gave us the flexibility to allow rest to happen whenever we needed it. I did not have to drag the boys (or myself) out of bed at 6:20 AM after a sleepless night. My boys did not have to adhere to a rigid schedule or maintain a happy countenance with peers in a classroom when they did not feel happy. They were able to mourn without pressure; and they were able to talk about Rose whenever they felt able to express their sadness. I praise God for putting the “bug in my ear” to homeschool long before little Rose went home to heaven. I really don’t think any of us would have made it (as least this far) without the blessing of being with each other with as little stress as possible.
7. Homeschooling allowed my boys to truly enjoy their new baby sister. They had plenty of time to snuggle with her and participate in her care. Because my boys were learning at home, they bonded right away with Celine. Spending time with baby C after the death of their sister only weeks before was also healing them.
8. Homeschooling has introduced me to an amazing group of women and their families. I am part of a co-op that has been equally as beneficial to me as it has to my children. It blesses my heart to have friends who have similar convictions, and it blesses my heart for my children to have friends who genuinely care about them. When Rose died, the ladies in our homeschooling community showed such an incredible outpouring of love and support for our family, even though I was a new member. Our family will always be grateful for how they came alongside of us in our time of need.
So, something that I absolutely did not want to do ended up being the source of so many unexpected blessings in the midst of a very difficult year. I am thankful that God knows better than we do the right path for us to take.
I look forward to homeschooling next year and the continued blessings that come along with it!