my home schooling phases: Idealistic, frustrated, reluctant, thankful

Honest confession: I didn’t want to be around my kids all day long when they were little.

I say this because I heard veteran home school moms talk about one main reason they home schooled being that they just enjoyed being around their kids so much, and it would be too sad to send them away to school each day.

So now, at 43 (am I 43? not 42? …. I never could understand why my dad had to count his age up from his birth year…. yikes), I’m ready to confess that I didn’t enjoy my kids so much when they were young. I eventually learned to enjoy them (by studying a lot about developmental ages/stages, getting lots of training ideas, getting out of a punitive mindset, I’m so thankful to God for that transformation). I still don’t enjoy everything, to be honest. But I enjoy a lot. And I enjoy it a lot more than I did.

I didn’t come into home schooling as it being something radical or different to do. That all happened in the 70s and 80s in the States.

It was already an ideal for me. Which might have contributed to other issues/expectations I struggled with.

Because I couldn’t do my ideals. There were moments of it though. (Well, now that I look back on it, it was fairly ideal, though it didn’t seem like it at the time.) Like the year the girls and I would go to the mall and sit at a huge table, and I would read aloud to them forever while they worked on crafts. That was fun, looking back upon it.

Insert: I don’t like the phrase “enjoy the moment” applied to everything in life. There are plenty of worthy moments I don’t enjoy. I enjoy the memory. Or I enjoy the sense of accomplishment. But in the moment, I could just ditch it all if I feel compelled that I must also enjoy myself.

I enjoy a lot of things in retrospect 😀

I “enjoy” that I home schooled, looking back, even in the months I wasn’t having the time of my life by a long shot. For example, doing Jewish holidays felt kinda frustrating and underwhelming and unappreciated. But looking back, I love the memories and the fact that we did those things.

So I’m not going to analyze this much further, just want to say that I’ve been through coming into home schooling as an ideal, been frustrated–by my unpreparedness, lack of skills, lack of follow-through, by the fact that my children couldn’t understand conforming to and loving that ideal as much as I did ….

So I struggled also with resenting having to do it sometimes. I didn’t have many options. A couple things helped me through that: I DID have options. We could have spent crazy money (for us) or gone into debt to send our kids to the Christian school. We could’ve sent our kids to Ukrainian school, but neither of us wanted to *do that* to our kids…. So, if I were honest, it was a free choice I was making among options.

I read a book about home schoolers (by a non-home-schooler researcher) and she gave me language for my experience. She says there are primary and secondary home schoolers. Primary means they home school by conviction or ideal. Even though these mothers are often overwhelmed and burned out, they will home school. Secondary home schoolers are those who choose home school because they can’t get the option they wanted first. So home school is their second-best option. These are more open to trying other mixes and styles.

You know, I WANTED to be a primary home schooler. I love crusading, and I want to have that crusading spirit about home schooling. Really. It was very hard for me to accept that I’m an uncomfortable mix of the two.

It helped me a lot when I could finally break down my ideals and start “farming out” some of the teaching aspects. They watch a math video. One of the greatest reliefs recently was signing the girls up for 7th grade online English with a *real teacher* who gives assignments, evaluates their work, and gives feedback.

I went through a period (around their fifth/six grades) when I asked God to please give me a conviction about home schooling. There are home school moms who can just wax on and on so sweetly about how wonderful home school is and surely most if not all should do it! It’s superior, right? But I have tasted so much of the drawbacks, I couldn’t bring myself to speak that boldly! But I WANTED to.

God answered me by showing me through a series of events when I tried enrolling the girls in school that He wanted me to home school. That it was His providential will that I keep them home (though farming out some of the actual subject teaching is really nice).

OK, so here’s what I want to say: My kids are 13, 12, 6 and 4. Seventh, first, and pre-k. And what I can say is that now, I am so happy and thankful that we home school!!! in our own un-ideal way. We home school. And I like being together now.

NOW, when I’m half-way through my firsts, I can’t stand the thought of sending my kids away to school all day. I would miss them terribly.

I’m thankful for the low-stress style of our home school. The kids read a lot and have “free” time for other activities, spontaneity and travel. They have time to teach English as a Second Language to younger students, they do crafts, help with church activities, babysit….

Anyway, so, I’m thankful. This is somehow part of my mid-life process of agreeing with my life.

And maybe now I can be a crusader about how great home schooling is???

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