I have been homeschooling since the fall of 2004, so this is the beginning of my 8th year. I was also homeschooled as a jr. high and high school student. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of homeschooling and all of the reasons parents do it. I realize the importance of imparting a Biblical worldview into my children on a day-to-day basis. I enjoy being with my kids when they are learning something new, and I get to see the “light bulb” moments I would otherwise miss if they were in school all day.
But I have to be totally honest here: There are days (and weeks) when I totally want to be selfish and put my child back in public school — for several reasons:
- I miss having time to myself. I sometimes daydream about having a day where Joel is in public school, Leif is in a mother’s day out program, and I can do things alone. I can schedule my day the way I want. Even though I know it’s is unrealistic, I see it as being calmer and more peaceful.
- I’d like to spend some time on myself. I need time to go to the gym. I’d even like to take a shower by myself and fix my hair without worrying that my house is getting torn apart by my two-year-old and that my seven-year-old is watching cartoons when I told him not to.
- I have a book in my head that I would really like to have the time to write. I want to spend more time researching genealogy, canning jelly, painting my house, reading, etc. I look at other parents that have their kids in public schools, good Christian parents that love their children, and I wonder: “Why can’t I be like them?”
But I’ve been there — I have been like them. When the girls were in elementary school, I had time to myself — and I remember that it wasn’t perfect like it seems in my daydreams. I felt lost, bored, restless, and selfish. In fact, I ended up going back to school and getting a job to fill the void their absence left. I enjoyed my job and all the things I learned, but I always felt torn between being at work and taking care of my family.
My days and my life are much more fulfilled now, even though they are harder. I also remember the drop off and pick up lines, the lunch runs when things were forgotten, and the constant school activities. And worst of all, my girls came home with attitudes that didn’t fit into our family values. I watched as they slowly lost their love and hunger for learning.
Lastly, it is a lot of pressure to have the educational future of your child resting solely on your shoulders — and sometimes, the burden feels like too much. It’s just plain scary. I mean really, what if I totally mess this kid up? Or barring that, (because I don’t think a loving parent really can totally mess a kid up), more practically speaking, what if I don’t provide every opportunity for my child to be the very best that God made him to be? What if in my own selfish, sinful, imperfect way, I screw things up for him?
I have to tell you, I have been really dealing with all of these issues lately. And I don’t know if Joel senses this, or if his attitude has really pushed my buttons lately, but Friday and today really started out tough. Joel had a bad attitude, and I was unsure of the best way to deal with it. I question my own thoughts, attitudes, abilities, and consistency on a daily basis, and I am sure that comes through to Joel. I worry that I am not providing every opportunity that he needs to succeed. I worry that if I slack — even for just one week — Joel will have this huge learning gap that will impair his future.
And this is totally silly, I know, I know! I lived this homeschool lifestyle as a student. In fact, I know my parents left me with learning gaps, and kids in public school definitely have learning gaps too. But I had no problems in college. If there were things I didn’t know at all, I knew how to learn about them. I still love learning new things, and there is always going to be more to learn. The whole point of school is to learn how to learn.
Plus, I have two daughters that have successfully graduated from homeschool, scored well on their ACT tests, have great work attitudes, and are God-loving, well-rounded young ladies. I know that I can do this with God’s help — because I have already done it. This is just the first time I am starting from the beginning, and it seems like a very long climb.
This homeschool lifestyle is a sacrifice as well as a blessing. Sometimes we feel the sacrifice more than the blessing, and sometimes we feel like we aren’t sacrificing enough. But the times when we feel the pressure and the terror of what we are doing are the times that God is reminding us to keep Him in the center of what we are doing.
God knows exactly what your children need. He gave them to you to parent because He wanted you to shepherd them through their growing years. If you allow God to lead you — and remember to put Him in His correct position at the head of your family and your school each day — then the things your child needs to learn will get learned. And you will have peace.