Dear new homeschooling Mom,
I’m so excited that you have taken the big leap! Not because I hate public school or think private school is overrated, but because I know it takes a special kind of bravery to take hold of your child’s education and put that burden on yourself. It’s a huge responsibility, and definitely not a step you can take and be a wimp about it.
I pray your husband and you chose this path because you love your children, and you want to redeem your time with them. Because you envision something different for your children than what the rest of the world does. I certainly pray it wasn’t under traumatic circumstances like bullying, an abusive teacher, or a learning disability that can’t be worked through. These are problems you can only run from for so long. Look instead at all you gain! Fear is not the best motivator when times get rough.
I love seeing pictures of your new homeschool area! I’m sure you were stoked to get those cute little desks from IKEA. I love the alphabet and math facts on the wall. I frequently see all your efforts and questions to create a learning environment. But can I interject? Your homeschool area is… your home! The rigidity of sitting in a desk 8 hours a day is one of the biggest downfalls of the school system. Don’t be disappointed if that school desk collects a lot of dust while all the kid’s work is on the kitchen counter, the sofa, or his bed. That’s a good thing! Comfort is a perk of being home.
I also see all your questions about curriculum. I have a few suggestions on that, but the shocking truth is: It’s not necessary. There are hundreds of way to homeschool for free. Between online sites like mathgames.com (completely free), a library card, and a child’s interest you would be surprised how much learning can take place. I don’t want to discourage you from picking a curriculum, I just don’t want you to put all your hopes and dreams on it. It will be great – for a season. Then it will get difficult, and then you’ll love it again. These rhythms of learning are normal. So instead of beating your head into the wall when it fails, just set it aside; borrow a book on the subject, read it together, and try again later. I promise you it will still be ok.
Please stop asking for permission to do what is right for your child. If the question is, “Is it ok if we…?” The answer is, “You’re the mom. You know best.” Every child is different and what is good for Billy may not be good for Susy – and these two might be siblings! Grab a cup of coffee, a good book (I recommend the Bible) and relax! No matter how a schooling day goes, the household enjoys it more if YOU are enjoying it too.
The only thing I ask of you is that you take this amazing opportunity and become friends with your kids. You can’t demand good character out of a hollow relationship. They will be with you now for a long time, so prepare yourself to have little shadows in the ebbs of your life. They will watch how you treat others, how you care for the home, and how you love your spouse (and vice versa!). It’s waist deep in this lifestyle where children can really learn to be honest – the way mommy is honest – and patient, and kind… While they can re-learn math or reading at any point in their lives, growing up with integrity is kind of a one-shot deal! They’ll only be children once, and in the blink of an eye they’ll be off to college… And you’ll miss them terribly.
I am just now on week two of the school year. We live in a one-bedroom apartment that is like a Little House in the Big Woods type of experience – only we are surrounded by a concrete forest in the middle of the city. We eat, learn, play games, laugh, discipline, pray and cry in the same area. And yet, it’s working! Witnessing the growth is such a reward. If it is working for me in these crazy circumstances I’ve been in, I’m sure it will work for you too.