As I type this I am halfway through the fourth day of my third year of homeschooling. Do I sometimes question if I'm doing the right thing? Yes! Do I sometimes wish I were back in the workforce? Yes! Do I sometimes miss interacting with other adults on a daily basis in a work setting? Yes! Do I plan to continue homeschooling anyway? Yes!
When I talk about our decision to homeschool with others, I find myself often saying that it's not easy. I don't say this to be negative about the experience. I say it because when people find out I homeschool, they often say things like, "Oh, I could never do that" or "You have a teaching degree so I'm sure it's easy for you, but I wouldn't have a clue what to do" or similar expressions of amazement and awe. Being a pretty humble person (I hope!), I tend to try to deflect comments towards myself that are complimentary. I feel compelled to make sure that people know that homeschooling isn't easy, even for someone with a teaching degree and 20 years of "professional" teaching experience. It isn't easy when your children balk at doing their work, distract each other, speak disrespectfully to you, or fight during their school day. And one or all of these things happens around here pretty much on a daily basis. No, it certainly isn't easy. Yet I will persist in doing it because when I stop to take a breath, even on the hardest days, I am reminded of the big picture.
The big picture could very well be different for each family. For our family, the big picture is that we want to raise our sons to be kind, caring and compassionate adults. We want them to have the self-confidence to stand behind their morals and beliefs in the face of challenge and adversity. We want to nurture and develop their individual talents and interests, giving them lots of time to spend doing activities that they love. Notice that I'm not mentioning having a certain GPA or getting into a certain college. We definitely also want academic excellence for our sons, and we very much want them to attend college or other post-secondary education. However, what is most important to me as a mom is that my boys learn to care about the world and its people and that they have the desire to do good as adults. I believe that I can best empower them by having them home during this season of life where we can talk freely about God (even questioning our beliefs and being okay with that), where they can develop a strong sense of self without worrying about what's "cool" or what others will think, and where we can focus on matters of the heart in a relaxed and loving setting.
A while back, we started a new practice of beginning each school day with "sticks." We have a can of colored craft sticks on which we have written the names of people and issues to pray about. Of course our sticks have the names of our family members, friends who may be struggling, our Compassion-sponsored children, etc. We also make sticks for people who need prayers for healing or grief. We have a "Boston" stick and a "Connecticut" stick to remember those communities and the tragedies they have recently experienced. We have a stick for "military" and one for "government". Each morning we begin by picking a stick and praying out loud for the person or entity represented. When my children were both attending school outside our home, we would not have had time to do this in the morning rush. I'm so thankful that we can do this simple thing together every school day.
Today, my oldest son and I had a good, but difficult conversation about what is currently happening in Syria and our country's possible involvement in the conflict. Surprisingly, I found myself tearing up as we talked. It was suddenly so hard for me to have to reveal to him the face of evil in the world. For so many years of their young lives, we shelter our children from things that can be upsetting or frightening, like the fact that humans can do such evil to one another. Now that my son is almost twelve, it is time for him to begin to have a more global perspective, even the bad stuff. He's now studying World War I and will be studying World War II shortly. I'm so thankful that I have him home for these subjects so we can talk about the role that our Christian and moral values have when reflecting upon past and current atrocities.
I don't think homeschooling is for everyone. I believe people when they say, "I could never do that". I believe them because I know that what they are really saying is "I would never WANT to do that." And that's okay. For now, homeschooling is just right for us as we keep in mind the big picture.
I'd love to have comments on this post. What are your thoughts about homeschooling and the big picture?