We’ve been homeschooling for almost 15 years. Here’s what I wish I had known when I first started homeschooling.
This coming school year my oldest will be a senior.
Which means she’ll be graduating from our homeschool and moving on to new and exciting things. And I’m feeling quite a bit of nostalgia over this knowledge.
How can my baby be turning seventeen in just two months? How can she almost be done with high school? Done with homeschooling? How did the time pass so quickly?
We’ve been homeschooling since the very beginning, so that means I’ve been a homeschool mom for almost fifteen years.
When I started homeschooling, I had a preschooler and a baby. Then there was a preschooler and a toddler and a baby. And then at one point I had a first grader, a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby. And on it went.
I’ve homeschooled through pregnancy, with the challenge of morning sickness and bed rest, then including a newborn and the nursing years. We homeschooled during times of unemployment and moves and sickness and other challenges.
And despite the challenges, I’ve never once doubted our decision to homeschool. And I’ve learned a few things through the years. 🙂
I finally learned how to keep little ones occupied while I taught the older ones. I learned how to deal with math struggles. I learned that some children need a different approach than 100 Easy Lessons when it comes to reading (even though 100 Easy Lessons worked wonderfully with my first three!).
What I Wish I Had Known
Here are a few more things I learned along the way (that I wish I had known in the very beginning!).
Start With Prayer
Every single decision regarding our children and their education should be covered with prayer. Of course we did this, but I think we could have prayed about things more back then. Sometimes I would hear of a new curriculum or idea and then go for it without spending much time praying about it.
I can’t tell you how many curriculum decisions I made that didn’t work out very well and I think it might have turned out better if I had spent more time praying before making that purchase! 🙂
And each school day goes so much better when started with prayer. We look to the Lord for our strength and for wisdom and for peace.
Before we attempt to live a day well, teach our children, or tackle our to-dos, first we put the whole thing at His feet. We beg God to use us to fulfill His purpose, and then we see that every frustration in the day ahead is an answer to that very prayer. ~Sarah Mackenzie
It’s Not About Success, It’s About Faithfulness
Oh, how I wish I would have had a firm grasp on this truth when I first started out. It’s not about me doing this thing successfully in my own strength. It’s about being faithful!
God is not demanding I be successful on my own. He’s calling me to be faithful and to trust Him for the results, which may not always look like the success we were seeking, but if we are faithful, we will know His peace and rest in our studies and efforts. What more success could we want? ~Sarah Mackenzie
This is such a life-changing truth.
And what exactly is faithfulness? I can’t say it any better than Sarah has here:
Faithfulness is showing up every day to do the work He has called us to. Whether or not things turn out in the end as I’m hoping they will (for my children to have a strong faith, humble and compassionate hearts, a love for learning, and an academic skill set that helps them seek out knowledge and truth every day and everywhere) is not actually within my span of control. It’s not my assigned task. He isn’t asking me to succeed on the world’s terms. He’s asking me to faithfully do the work. ~Sarah Mackenzie
Simple Is Better
So often as homeschool moms we tend to complicate things. We pile up stacks of curriculum thinking that’s where it’s at—surely everything will be covered then, with no gaps. But so often simple is better. We don’t always need the latest and greatest new curriculum or tool. Sometimes we have just what we need right where we are.
A stack of books. Hours of reading. Poetry. Long walks outside. Bike rides. Spelling words. Visits to the orchards. Sitting for hours with toddlers on laps, flipping through picture books, singing silly rhymes. Algebra problems. Library visits. Outings. Winter evenings spent huddled around a board game or listening to a story. Phonics. Handwork. A five-paragraph essay. Baking soda-and-vinegar volcanoes. Mapwork. Drawing. Music. Conversations about everything under the sun. A garden. A grammar page. A memorized fact. A meal eaten with grandparents. A camping trip in August. ~Sarah Mackenzie
So much learning takes place when we’re being faithful to our everyday tasks and simply living life with our kids. It’s often so much simpler than we think!
Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. ~Charlotte Mason
Put Relationships Above Everything Else
This is something else I’ve learned through the years. That math problem they don’t understand? It’s not the end of the world. Struggling with reading? That’s not the end of the world, either. But my relationship with my child is of utmost importance.
Make Time for Delight In Your Own Life
Charlotte Mason fans call it Mother Culture. Whatever you decide to call it, make sure you schedule some time into your day to breathe.
Whatever it is that encourages and motivates you, make time for it! Read books, do a Bible study, sew, decorate, make candles, paint a watercolor, write a blog post. Do whatever it is that refuels you. This is a key to avoiding burnout. You must have some margin in your days.
A few years into homeschooling, one thing is abundantly clear to me: A peaceful and happy mother is the real key to successful homeschooling. ~Sarah Mackenzie
A Helpful Resource
The above quotes from Sarah Mackenzie were all taken from her excellent book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. I first read this book last year, and I’m rereading it again as inspiration for planning our next school year. It’s an encouraging, quick read that has inspired me so much.