I have a confession to make. I had no intention of homeschooling.
After public high school with our oldest two, I was convinced that we would never go the government-provided-schooling route again, so we enrolled our younger two in a top-notch private Christian school. Somewhere in the first year, God laid homeschooling heavily on my heart. In true submissive fashion, I said ‘no’. (I jest about the submissive part.)
That’s when the money ran out.
Our family has been homeschooling for three years now. I am by no means a veteran. But, I’ve been at this whole homeschool thing just long enough to recognize that I’m not the same. Homeschooling has changed me. Here are the top ten things I’ve noticed are a little different:
1) My character has grown.
I wish I could tell you that I’ve always been patient, kind and loving with my kids. The truth is, those are still traits I’m working on (I do my best work on my knees in prayer). Yet, the daily exercise of teaching my children and spending so much time with them has given me ample opportunity to practice patience and love. I don’t homeschool because I’m patient. I’m patient (in part) because I homeschool.
2) My heart is more tender toward my children.
Spending all this time with my little people has endeared them to me. They are precious, creative and precocious. I love them dearly, and I value them deeply. Homeschooling has given me the opportunity to know them better and to understand their hearts. I didn’t start homeschooling out of a desire to spend more time with my kids, but spending so much time with them has made me love homeschooling.
3) I appreciate my husband more.
My husband has made a number of sacrifices so that we can educate our children at home. He is supportive of my task, and he listens to me prattle on and on about my latest dilemma or decision. When I recently switched math curriculums, the man listened to days of speeches about my research, readings and thoughts. His commitment to our decision to homeschool provides just another reason to appreciate him.
4) I’ve learned to think outside the box.
There are certain societal norms in our culture — things we’re expected to do. Government schooling definitely lands on the list of “normal” things families do with their kids. Now that I’ve broken free of one societal norm, I find myself frequently questioning others. I don’t want to live in any given manner just because everyone else does it. I want to live intentionally, with a purpose.
5) I’ve learned all kinds of new stuff.
When I was in school, I never learned history in any comprehensive kind of way. I knew about concentration camps, but I really had no idea what caused World War II, or who was involved. My boys and I are working through history in a four-year cycle, and we’ve made it all the way through the 19th Century. I have a whole new appreciation of what’s happened and why. I’m finding the same thing is true in other areas — like science. When I started homeschooling, I thought I’d be doing the teaching. It turns out, I’m doing a lot of the learning.
6) I’m a lot more relaxed.
There’s a lot of stress involved in getting children dressed, fed, and into the car by 7:30am every morning with school lunches in hand. There are car pick-up lines to wait in, parent-teacher conferences to attend, and every evening there’s a backpack full of homework to do and parent-teacher paperwork to read. Now that I homeschool I find I’m more relaxed and I’m having a lot more fun.
7) I’m a lot more organized and structured.
I might be more relaxed, but I’m not really a “relaxed homeschooler”. I am intentional about my children’s education. I want them to be well prepared for anything the Lord might lead them to. (Though I am in full support of your right to homeschool in a relaxed manner if you wish.) I’ve found that homeschooling has required me to plan, to organize, and to be structured. The more organized I am, the more organized I want to be.
8) I’ve become more encouraging.
Homeschoolers are fantastic people. They tend to be out-of-the-box, interesting individuals with a desire to pour into their children. People that educate at home also tend to be unbelievably generous with their time and ideas. Why do forums like Hip Homeschool Moms’ grow and succeed? It’s because homeschoolers band together and come alongside each other. My kids respond to encouragement as well. Homeschooling has given me an outlet to edify and support others.
9) I’ve become more confident about my ability to lead and to teach.
As my homeschool journey has progressed, I’ve altered and tweaked every curriculum. I’ve added great books and ignored the tests. I’ve found fun projects and field trips to supplement our subjects. Conversations around the dinner table have revealed that not only are the boys learning, they’re enjoying it. When I got really serious about finding a Bible curriculum, and I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to write it myself. Homeschooling has made me bolder about my ability to put lessons together.
10) I’ve learned it’s not about me.
Homeschooling is nothing if not sacrificial. It takes a lot of time, thought and energy to lead and teach children. It’s a whole different lifestyle. I’ve found that I want to share the joy of serving with my kids. One of our favorite “classes” has always been service class. What better way to spend our time than learning how to meet the needs of others? Homeschooling has helped me remember that my skills and abilities are not my own. My job is to give away what I’ve been given.
How has homeschooling changed you?
Danika Cooley is author of Bible Road Trip, a free 3 year Bible survey curriculum for children grades 1-12. She is also a children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Clubhouse Jr. and Thriving Family; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. You can find Danika blogging about Raising Thinking Kids in an Unthinking World at Thinking Kids. She’s also on Pinterest, her happy place for homeschool discoveries, on Facebook, and on Twitter.