Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Home Schooling: The Biggest Mistake of My Life?

I love home schooling. No ifs, ands or buts.

I love teaching. I love math, and I love reading. I love writing. I love history. I love that history is stories upon stories, colorful and real. It doesn't require work to make it interesting. It does require a lot of effort to make it boring

My kids love science, and I love it on their behalf. Apologia is the curriculum we use and they are the best. It is a creation based curriculum with lots of hands on experiments. The experiments are fun, and are also thoroughly explained. Why did this happen? What does this experiment teach or explain or show? The students have journals to fill out which keeps everything in one place.

I love home schooling.

Have I said that before?

I love watching my kids get hooked on a subject. I love watching them blossom and grow as they learn. I’ve loved watching my oldest progress from pre-K all the way up into high school. And, frankly, I’m pretty impressed that I’ve worked with him from pre-K all the way up into high school. We are in our 11th year! Cray-zay!

But, let’s be honest.

Even though I love teaching and love home schooling and love my kids, I actually don’t love every minute of home schooling.

Actually, within the first week of each year, I wonder if I’m making the biggest mistake of my life.


And what I have to remind myself of in these moments is that this does happen every year.

Because each year there is the same rough learning curve as we get back into the swing of things. As we readjust to our school schedule (rather rigid and heavy) and opposed to summer schedule (all loosey-goosey).

Students haven’t realized yet that just because mom works on Tuesdays and corrects Tuesday’s assignments on Wednesdays does not mean that he/she is going to get away with not doing the school work well. Sub parr is not going to make the grade. Sub parr will be re-done on Wednesday.

Students haven’t realized yet that when mom says reading is a huge part of your school year, she means it. When she says notes will be taken as you go, she does not mean one word for 25 pages. Also, she does know that you can read far more than 10 pages in two hours. She knows your reading pace. And she will start cracking the proverbial whip when the month is half done, and you’re only 125 pages into your 600 page book.

Students haven’t realized yet that spending an hour on 5 easy math problems, and still getting them wrong is not okay. It is frustrating to the teacher, and it only produces more math solving for you.

Teacher has realized that every child clammers for attention at the exact.same.time. Because…Murphy’s Law.

Teacher is ready to pull her hair out, and any hair left is turning grey by the home-school minute.


So, we take a deep breathe and realize that some things aren’t working (obviously). Is it the technique? The scope of work expected? Stubbornness? Stupidity?

(Just being honest here. I have wondered that about my kids. I know. Bad mom! I didn’t wonder aloud. Good mom!)

I evaluate….

What needs tweaked for things to run smoothly this year?

Where do we need to persist because it just takes time to get used to the school routine, new books, new responsibilities, new methods? 

Evaluation is necessary.

Before school starts, everything is theory. Subjects, schedule and timing, logistics. Sometimes you actually need to live it for a bit to realize if it is or isn’t going to work in the long run.

I take a deep breathe, and I pray. For wisdom and patience and flexibility. I let God know that I am overwhelmed.


I buy large-square graph paper for the child struggling with math. Little boxes help keep equations neat and organized. (thanking a friend from Germany for this great tip)

I clearly set expectations for what I want done. Be it how many pages I want read, or how many typing lessons completed. These can be revisited as needed, but they are no longer vague concepts. There are goals to meet.

I remind each child that they need to try to problem solve on their own if I am working with someone else. If they can’t figure it out, then they need to go on to some other task, until I am able to work with them.

I change one of our Friday fun school lectures to a different series. I change one of our activities to a slight different method of studying and accomplishing, to make some free time on Friday afternoons.

I remind myself that I am tethered to the table for a couple hours every day. School is my job for that segment. Not cooking or cleaning or laundry or phone calls or emails or social media. School. It’s good and it’s enough.

I remind myself that having students in Kindergarten, and 4th grade, 7th grade and 9th grade, is having students in quite the skill range. I need to give myself grace for this.

I teach my kids the principle of hard now versus hard. I focus on skills learned and progress made, not on perfection. In both my kids and myself.

Yes, I do love home schooling. No, it isn’t sunshine and roses every single moment of every single day. Yes, I do believe home schooling is what we are supposed to be doing again this year. Yes, my kids are pretty good kids, and pretty smart and responsible too. And, yes, I am still a sinner in need of grace, and so are they.

Hopefully this post encourages you. From me, a person who often seems to have her junk all in order. From me, a person who loves to teach and loves to home school. From me, an 11 year home school veteran. I still have to adjust and readjust yearly, and monthly, and weekly, and sometimes even daily. Hopefully this encourages you to keep on keeping on.

I’m so thankful for small graces and new mercies…even in home schooling.