SummaryHomeschooling veteran Patricia Purcell offers potential homeschoolers a realistic idea of what they can expect (and why it’s still worth the journey).
Before my family began our homeschooling journey, I read everything that I could get my hands on about teaching one’s own children.
I reveled in the stories of super-children exposed only to great literature and curriculum, who grew up to seek advanced degrees and cure obscure diseases.
I eagerly read of the absence of sibling rivalry, and the extraordinary willingness of homeschooled children to help around the house and tend the extensive backyard gardens. Needless to say, I could not wait to begin!
We’re now entering our ninth year of homeschooling, and my illusions have long been shattered. That’s not to say that I don’t see many benefits to teaching my children at home (I do), but rather that I have a realistic view of the homeschooling lifestyle now.
If you are just beginning your homeschooling journey, here are some things that you really should know before you begin.
1. Homeschooling Houses
What the books don’t mention is all of the stuff that will accumulate all over your house because it is necessary for teaching your children. Textbooks, reference books, reading books, teacher manuals, science kits, art supplies and more; you will have materials to cover all aspects of education at every grade level. It will sit around because naturally you’ll want to maximize your investment by passing it down from child to child.
To top it off, your house will always look lived in because you are always there. (Well, not always because your car will look lived in too.) And just forget about competing with the neighbors over landscaping. In short, you will have that house.
- Your house will echo with the noise of children at all hours.
- Your shelves will groan with the weight of boxes of dead bugs and other specimens collected by your budding scientists.
- There will be pencils everywhere, but you will never find a sharpened one when you need it.
- The mailman will look at you funny after delivering dissection kits in the mail.
- The neighbors will stare as caravans of friends arrive for a gathering during school hours.
2. Homeschooling Kids
When you begin homeschooling, your kids will be…still your kids. That means that any strengths and weaknesses that they had before they were homeschooled will still be there.
The fact that you get to deal with these is both good and bad. When you begin homeschooling, your kids will:
- Still want snow days. It doesn’t matter that they don’t have to brave the weather to reach the schoolroom.
- Still hate math (or spelling, etc).
- Resist homework.
- Eventually grow into tweens and teens who will fight getting up on time.
3. Homeschooling Moms
Homeschooling will not suddenly turn you into a perfect mother. You will still make mistakes and get cranky when you’re tired, and sometimes you will watch the neighbor’s children getting onto the school bus and think how easy she has it. Most of the time though, you’ll be grateful to be on this incredible journey with your children. Some things that you should be aware of are:
- You will have to constantly move the location of your secret chocolate stash. You know—the one you keep to soothe your nerves after a long day of teaching? If you don’t, the kids will find it. And eat it.
- You will begin to see teachable moments everywhere.
- You will finally ‘get’ Algebra.
- You will have no patience when public schoolers complain about the cost of school supplies or when teachers complain about their salaries.
- You will get tired of feeling judged if you are out with your kids during the day. Often you will just let nosy store clerks assume that the schools had an early dismissal.
- People will tell you that you’ll miss your kids more when they’re grown than you would if they weren’t with you so much now. You will know they’re right. It will tear your heart out someday.
4. Homeschooling Dads
If you happen to be the main teacher, see the tips above. If not, read on.
- You will have to help by teaching a subject or two (often it’s math in high school). You will need to brush up on subjects that you thought you were done with forever.
- You won’t be able to relate to others at the office when they talk about school issues.
- You will have more flexibility with vacation time than your coworkers. Your coworkers will realize this and snatch up all of the available vacation time during school break weeks.
5. Things New Homeschoolers Should Know
Homeschooling is not a magic fix. You will still be a parent as well as a teacher, and like any parent, you will struggle to raise decent, hardworking future adults. Your children will not suddenly be perfect children. They will test your patience and sometimes get on your last nerve. That’s normal, but you can handle it. God gave you all the grace that you need to do so.
There will be days when you will question yourself, and a great many people that will question your abilities for you (if you allow them). There will also be days when you will achieve things that you would never have believed yourself capable of. Cherish them.
You will have the privilege of witnessing the world opening for your children, with each new bit of knowledge that they gain. You will glimpse the future in the potential that they display.
When you first begin homeschooling, the years stretching ahead will seem daunting.
At some point, time will seem to speed up, and you will want to hold on with both hands to slow it down. You can’t, but for the rest of your life you will know that you gave the best of yourself to your family.
What do you wish you had known before you started homeschooling?