“If I can do it, anybody can!”
That’s a catchphrase that’s used a lot nowadays, to the point where no one really believes it anymore. But, trust me when I say that if there was ever a time when it was true, it’s here! Without a drop of irony or sarcasm, I can honestly say that if I can homeschool my kids, anybody can. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a handy little list for you of just a few of my many shortcomings. These are all popular reasons not to homeschool, and every one of these is 100% applicable to me.
- I am by nature extremely lazy and unmotivated.
- I have a bad temper, and I butt heads with my kids all the time.
- I lack the ability to create and stick with a clearly defined schedule; I much prefer to wing it.
- I’m embarrassingly disorganized.
- I’m too busy! I have 4 kids under 7, and a husband, and a house to clean, and the same responsibilities as every other parent! May days are maxed out.
- I’m painfully forgetful.
- I am the Queen of Procrastination.
- I’m not the smartest person in the world. I have a pretty firm grasp of language and history, but I’m really, really bad at math.
- I lack any qualifications to teach. I graduated high school, and when my oldest was a baby I graduated from a technical school as a Certified Medical Assistant, but I never attended college or earned a degree.
- We can’t afford it. With a family of 6 in this economy, it’s very difficult to find extra money to invest in a good curriculum.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. None of these attributes make for a very successful homeschooler, am I right? And yet somehow, despite my (numerous) shortcomings, I have been able to do this for 4 years now! Let me share a bit of my story with you.
I remember very clearly the day I was first convicted to homeschool. My oldest child was about 18 months old at the time. A story came on the news about a local school district where junior highers had been caught performing sexual acts on one another on the school bus, on the way to school.
Junior highers. On the school bus. Right out in the open.
I knew right then and there that I would *never* put my child into a public school where such acts were happening – not if I had any say in the matter. I have continued to become more and more deeply convicted about the need to homeschool, for more reasons than just that. The Lord is always reminding me of what an important task he has given me.
My oldest was 3 when I started homeschooling her, and we loved doing preschool together! It was fun, and very easy! We had some Pre-K workbooks that we did, but mostly we played a lot, went to the library, read books, made crafts, and went on many exploring adventures. I didn’t know it at the time, but it wasn’t really “real” yet, and I had no clue what I was getting myself into! A few days before my oldest turned 4, I gave birth to my second child. Then 3 months later, I surprisingly became pregnant again. So there I was, trying to teach my 4 year old with a new baby to care for, and another baby in the belly! Oh, and did I mention that I was also running a business from home? Yeah. To say I was overwhelmed would be a gross understatement. There were days when we wouldn’t do any lessons or go anywhere at all because I was too sick from morning sickness, too exhausted from chasing kids all day and keeping up with customer orders, or just plain too cranky to fight with my kid over doing her lessons! What I kept telling myself was that this was just practice, and we didn’t have to have an official schedule until she was 6. We still had time. That became my mantra! In hindsight I realize that what I really needed at that time was support and encouragement, but I found very little of that in those around me. Mostly, family and friends told me repeatedly that I couldn’t do it, and it felt like I was being discouraged at every turn. I felt very alone.
I had my third child, and 9 months later, conceived again. As time passed I became less overwhelmed by life and kids and I decided to step back from my business and put my family first. However, I still didn’t really feel like I knew what I was doing with regard to homeschooling, and my daughter’s 6th birthday was rapidly approaching – the time when I knew it was going to have to be official. I had very little understanding of the homeschool laws, and I had absolutely no idea which formal curriculum to use. They all seemed good to me! How did one go about choosing? At that time I had a couple of friends who homeschooled, but they did so “under the radar” (meaning they weren’t in compliance with state laws), so they weren’t really a source of guidance for me. I was determined to make sure I was within the laws, crossing every t and dotting every i. After some research, I found a local “Homeschooling 101” seminar and signed up to go with my husband. How glad I was that we did that! The classes really helped break down the laws into understandable terms, and they outlined in depth how to go about getting started. It gave me the knowledge and confidence boost I needed to get started.
Newly equipped with a better understanding, I set about deciding on a curriculum. I have since made some changes here and there to switch to curricula that are better suited to my child’s style of learning, but it was a great starting point. I have learned a lot in the last 4 years, and I am happy to share these some of what I have learned with you!
- Pray. Lean on the Lord. Trust Him. And pray some more. When God calls us, he WILL provide what we need to accomplish the calling. It’s okay to be scared, but trust Him!
- There’s no one “right” way to do it. Every parent is different, and every child is different. One child may be auditory, while another is more tactile. Cater your teaching to your child’s style, not to what the public schools are doing, or even to what other homeschoolers are doing!
- Give yourself some grace. There are always going to be rough days when we’re parents, even for non-homeschoolers. It’s okay to have crappy days, or crappy weeks, or crappy months. It doesn’t mean you’re failing; it just means you’re human, and so is your child!
- No one knows your child as well as you, and no one is better equipped to teach her. Having a teaching credential is not a requirement for homeschooling! Just keep reminding yourself that you’ve been teaching that precious child from the moment she entered the world! Teaching her to read is no different than teaching her to walk, or tie her shoes.
- Find a source of support and encouragement. There are going to be naysayers, and they might even be the people you most want to support you (like family members, or your best friend). It’s easier said than done, but ignore them. You CAN do it, and it will help you immensely to find someone who believes in you to encourage you when you need uplifting.
- If you’re struggling financially, there are still ways to make homeschooling happen. There are free curricula out there, such as Easy Peasy and K12. Many public school districts will provide you with material for free if you agree to teach your child their chosen curriculum.
- Practice makes perfect. Okay, maybe not perfect, but practice will make your better, anyway! Just like anything, you get better at it as you go along. You’ll learn how to schedule and organize your day, and how to make everything you need to do fit into your day.
- Learn to let some things go. Giving your child the education he deserves may mean sacrificing having the perfectly spotless home you desire, but that’s okay! Investing in your child’s future is WAY more important than having a shiny kitchen sink and perfect vacuum lines in the carpet.
If you’re considering homeschooling but sitting on the fence about it still, I hope that these words will encourage you. Please comment with any thoughts, questions, concerns, or prayer requests. I would love to pray for you, and likewise, I ask that you pray for me as I continue to homeschool! I still struggle sometimes, and I need the Lord’s grace every single day! May God bless you on your wonderful, home-educating adventure!