On March 13, 2020, our fifth child was born and the world shut down.
Much like every other family with children, we suddenly had all of our kids at home; that included not only our preschooler and newborn, but our three school-aged children as well.
As virtual learning progressed that spring, I started to notice the absence of things that our family disliked about going to school. The hard mornings of finding things, packing lunches, clothes not fitting, lost shoes, tears from the kids and myself—it was a rush that none of us liked. Then they were gone for what seemed like far too long, home by late afternoon, homework, dinner, baths and bed, and repeat. I’m not saying this is bad—for many families it works beautifully!
But as I sat back and looked around, things began to feel clear.
I REALLY loved them HOME.
So much so that when I imagined them returning to school in the fall, I felt empty and unsettled.
As a family, we decided the routine of school was something we wanted a break from. Maybe for a year, maybe long term. So when the next school year rolled around, we made the decision to keep them home.
This wasn’t our first experience with homeschooling. I was homeschooled for my entire education and loved every aspect of it. When my husband and I started our family, I assumed we would choose the same path for our kids.
As our oldest began kindergarten at home, I also had a three-year-old and was pregnant with our son.
I was overwhelmed.
At the time, I felt like I ruined her year—that I gave up. But I really think God knew I needed extra help. My husband—who grew up going to public school, a church school, and homeschool for a short time—always had wonderful things to say about each. I’m so thankful that he encouraged me to send my oldest to Powhatan Elementary for first grade the next year. It was incredible! She made sweet friends quickly, gained confidence amongst so much anxiety that at times was debilitating, AND she learned how to read! Her teachers loved her and it showed.
We sent the next two of our children to public school, and over the years, we had incredible experiences there. So much learning, guidance and so many friendships, not only for them, but for us, too.
Each year came and went. We moved, lived in an RV while we built our home, our family grew and then the world shifted…
…or shall I say it flipped upside down?
Once we made the decision to keep the kids home in 2020, of course, I felt some doubt. I had just had a baby. I had FIVE children. Could I do it?
I WANTED to do it.
I prayed daily for peace and guidance and that God would equip me with the knowledge, patience and structure we needed. We began, and it was beautiful. It was hard, messy, chaotic at times, but really beautiful.
I learned so much about our children—their strengths and weaknesses and the ways they enjoy learning. And I also learned so much about myself, although it’s really more accurate to say that they taught me so much.
I learned patience on a whole new level and how to lower expectations. I learned that I REALLY love structure and that mostly I love slow days.
As we prepared for this fall, our second year of homeschooling, I was filled with so many feelings. I spent a lot of time reflecting on last year, and wondering what this year would look like as we navigate kindergarten, 3rd, 5th and 7th with an 18-month-old.
Over the summer I felt some doubt—doubt if we were making the right decision, doubt in myself and if I could do this. Doubt is a funny thing. I think it’s a feeling every parent feels naturally.
Did I spend enough time with my child today?
Did I read a book out loud?
Did I hug them and tell them how proud I am of them?
Did they drink enough water?
Eat enough vegetables?
We can consume ourselves with doubt.
In our homeschooling this year, I am seeking less doubt and more peace. It has challenged me, and I’m thankful for that. It has shifted my thinking of “Am I going to be good at this?” to “Thank you Lord for equipping me to do this.”
Feeling ready for the challenges of homeschooling—and feeling peace and excitement about the year—doesn’t always make it easy. But I do believe it makes it doable and enjoyable.
I often call myself the “maybe homeschooler” because we really aren’t biased with our children’s education. We see so many wonderful aspects of homeschool, public, private, you name it! We also re-evaluate each year and look at each of our children’s needs and desires.
As of now this is where we are: homeschooling, and so at peace and excited for what the year will bring.
Homeschooling is a journey filled with ups and downs, but one that I believe is worth taking if your family decides it’s the best option for them. Some days you’ll want to quit. Some days one or all of your children will close a book and stomp away and need a break, maybe for 15 minutes, maybe for the remainder of the school day.
That’s where so much grace is needed. There will be days where even YOU will want to get on a school bus. But these are natural behaviors and feelings, and that’s why finding friends and mentors who have been in your shoes is so important for encouragement, prayer and leadership. As a quick-start resource and some lessons learned from our family, don’t miss PART 2 of this series, where I’ll give you six tips for a successful year of homeschool.