A homeschooling acquaintance recently returned her kids to the fold of public school. We never got to talk about what made her give up after just a few months of homeschooling. But I've been thinking about what I would have said. I think it's: Homeschooling can be hard sometimes.
I wish she would've talked to some of us first and perhaps we could have helped her through the rough patch. My homeschooling journey is one that I've not done alone. I've relied completely on the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He sent me some good people to give solid advice and support, both online and in our local homeschooling group. Everyone needs friends.
And everyone has Bad Days. We've had Bad Weeks. Don't believe you're getting the complete story when you read those amazing blogs or see those incredible specials about people having 29 overachieving children who are all natural geniuses and never argue or raise their voices and never sin. Even the most Christ-centered, calm and loving family has bad days. It's part of the human condition.
Homeschooling is a long journey, and like all journeys, the path curves and dips and delights and scares you right along with it. You'll think you're doing well, then hit a rough patch or get caught in a bog of boredom or a ditch of despair. Something in the distance will frighten you. Or you lose sight of where you want to be and wander off the path for much longer than intended.
It's happens. Don't mistaken the ditch for the end of the road.
When the rest stop on our homeschooling journey begins to resemble the end, I write them down my challenges or concerns. Sometimes, I'll call a friend, too. The important fact is that the challenge is addressed. And that helps me to stop, look at the path before us and see what needs to be done or changed or just accepted.
Here's a glimpse at our challenges with homeschooling:
1. homeschooling little people who are rapidly growing, evolving in tastes and style and understanding. Sometimes, I foolishly assume that I've got this homeschooling thing down, only to have to make adjustments so that everyone is challenged but not overwhelmed and yet still happy and confident
2. homeschooling children of varying ages with completely different learning styles and personalities that are direct opposites of one another
3. preventing myself from going insane when I've taught the same fact a hundred times to a child who repeatedly learns then forgets it
4. keeping the voracious readers fed, especially after hauling the three kids to the library, choosing 50 books then having the girl tell me, four days later, that it's time for another trip, she's read them all and she needs new books to read
5. feeling confident that I am doing the best for my children and knowing that I am doing a good job, even if my second grader starts crying at the table because she suddenly cannot remember what 5-2 is
6. trying to homeschool when the daredevil of a toddler is running around and creating mischief or clinging to my leg and crying until he is held and needs to be held or will cry incessantly for a very, very long time
7. handling days when I am exhausted and feeling just a wee bit sorry for myself because I have to do absolutely everything for everyone every day
8. having a child who is extremely bright but who does not fit into the traditional mold for a student and continually challenges me to think outside of the box for educational opportunities and resources
When we have a rough patch of schooling, it is usually one of those above issues.
Through online friends, two homeschool message boards, and our local homeschooling group, I feel strengthened on the journey and remain determined and enthusiastic about homeschooling. We are like the fellowship of the ring --- the fellowship of homeschooling. We're all different, we have separate journeys but we remain true to our ultimate goal.
Our goal has remained the same: to raise good Catholic people who love to learn and serve the Lord.
Almost daily, I remind myself about all the benefits of homeschooling. My children love each other and are one another's best friends. The girl is reading about three to four books a day; learning about ancient histories; advancing in her quest for knowledge. The boyl has leapfrogged through so much of the regular kindergarten milestones and is reading a lot, learning so much and showing a very generous and thoughtful spirit. The high level of energy and focus that would make a regular school hard for her can be used positively at home. And my son's difficulties with expressing himself verbally, which would be trouble in a "real" school, can be dealt with privately while still letting his other traits shine.
Homeschooling is immensely rewarding, incredibly enriching, a dynamic experience for our family. And, praise God, our home is a place of peace, love and education.
Homeschooling really can be hard sometimes. But it really is worth it. You just have to give it time. It's a journey.