My Biggest Homeschool Blunder: Thinking I’d Be Ready

4 Nov

By Renée Gotcher

Being a homeschool graduate could have turned out one of two ways for me: I could have loved the experience and known from the start that I would want to pass on that same gift to my children, or I could have gone the other way and felt that there was no way/reason/need to homeschool and never given it a second thought. I know homeschool graduates who’ve landed on both sides of that fence, and either way, they’re pretty convinced of the sides they’ve chosen.

But it wasn’t that simple for me. Although I had a positive perspective on homeschooling and was grateful to have experienced it myself, I didn’t dive in when the time came. My husband was also homeschooled, and we’d always talked about wanting to do it. However, after we got married, I dove into a time-consuming career in journalism and as I rose through the ranks, I put the idea of homeschooling on the way back burner. I figured that by the time we’d get around to having kids, I would probably be ready.

Audrey's first day of preschool

We started our family about seven years later, and the subject came up again, but I had plenty of time to think about it, I thought. Our second daughter was born just 20 months after our first, so I was preoccupied with life as a work-at-home mom of two children under age 3. But when the time came for our eldest daughter to start preschool, I didn’t take the homeschooling plunge. I wasn’t sure that I was ready.

I was sure about one thing: I was convinced that the highly regarded little Christian preschool in our neighborhood would be just as good, if not better, for my girls than spending all day with me. The teachers were precious, the class sizes were cozy, their classmates were sweet and well mannered, the curriculum was agreeable, and it was affordable.

First day of school for Claire

And frankly, I needed the time away from them. I had a thriving direct sales business, and those few hours a day that both my girls were enjoying preschool, I was able to get a lot of work done. The better question was why I wouldn’t take advantage of such a great opportunity.

Plus, I told myself, it will give me more time to get ready to homeschool by the time they finished Kindergarten there. After all, I had experienced homeschooling myself for a couple of years and watched my mom continue to homeschool my siblings after I’d left the fold, so I was ahead of the homeschooling curve. It won’t be that hard for me to get started, I thought, when I’m ready.

However, that day finally arrived, and guess what, I wasn’t ready.

Audrey's Kindergarten graduation just days before Elise was born.

I gave birth to my third daughter just a few days after my eldest Audrey graduated from Kindergarten at our lovely neighborhood preschool. Pretty soon, we’d have to make a decision about whether Audrey would be starting first grade at the neighborhood public school or the closest (and not so affordable) Christian private school. I wasn’t feeling as comfortable about either option as I had been with their preschool, but my discomfort wasn’t strong enough to push me over to the homeschooling side of the fence.

Especially now that I had a new baby to take care of. How in the world could I be an effective homeschooling teacher if I had a needy newborn to tend to 24/7? Maybe when our youngest was a toddler, and would be able to do “preschool” activities while I did schoolwork with the older two, maybe by then I would be ready. But not now.

So even though we were moving from Portland to Durango, and it would have been a perfect time to make the break from traditional school to homeschooling, we enrolled the girls in our new town’s only private school option: The local Catholic school. And I bought myself a couple more years to get ready to homeschool.

You get the picture. But the truth is, I wasn’t really stuck in a rut of perpetual preparation. In fact, I wasn’t preparing at all. I hadn’t spent any of those years since enrolling Audrey in the 3-year-olds class at our little preschool “getting ready” for anything. I was simply afraid to do it.

My biggest homeschooling blunder: Thinking that because I’d been homeschooled myself, I’d be ready when the time came. Because of my personal experience with homeschooling, I thought I’d not only be better prepared to homeschool my own children, I would also feel more ready and confident about doing it than someone who’d never experienced it before.

But I was wrong: I had the same fears and concerns clouding my confidence that every parent faces. And until last year, I’d let those fears hold me back — even as I watched two of my younger sisters confidently take the homeschooling plunge themselves.

Four-year-old Elise showing off her reading progress chart.

The good news is that I finally decided to replace that fear with faith. I decided to trust God with His calling to homeschool and put all my faith in Him to make it work. I realized that my fears were a result of my self-centered desire to do things my way and be successful at everything I do, and feeling ill-equipped to homeschool, I was simply afraid to fail.

During those years of “getting ready” to homeschool, the only thing that actually needed to be prepared was my heart. When we made our first step down the road of traditional schooling, my heart wasn’t yet in the right place. Unfortunately, it took quite a few more years of wrestling with my own will before I finally surrendered it to God.

Once I took that step of faith to homeschool and let God be in the driver’s seat, that fear of failure was replaced with a freedom and peace, knowing that God would finish His work in our family. And I resolved to stop getting in His way.

If only I could have gotten there sooner!

— Renée Gotcher is an entrepreneur, writer, wife & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She currently resides in Castle Rock, Colorado.

This post is part of a reader feedback link-up at Simple Homeschool’s “Biggest Homeschooling Mistakes” series. See “Q&A Friday: Your Biggest Homeschooling Mistake” for insight from other homeschooling moms across the country on this topic!

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10 Responses to “My Biggest Homeschool Blunder: Thinking I’d Be Ready”

  1. Rosanna Ward November 4, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    I really wanted to homeschool and thought I was ready. My biggest mistake was the constant change of curriculum – thinking if I just had a better curriculum my girls would love learning. What really needed to change was my attitude. I have learned to trust God and let him lead me in the educational choices we make and to have fun with it and let them see my joy in their learning experiences.

    • Renee Gotcher November 5, 2011 at 12:40 am #

      That is great insight Rosanna! I almost got caught up in that downward spiral myself since I wasn’t 100% happy with the curriculum I chose that first year. But feel very blessed that several moms in my homeschool group helped point me in the right direction on that one, which was to trust God and pray for direction, and not try to reinvent the wheel!

  2. Jocelyn November 7, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    I loved reading this. I was homeschooled as well (as well as my husband!) and I really thought it would be easier. I mean, I knew all there was about homeschooling, right? Actually I learned alot about my daughter (named Claire!) those first few months and I am learning even more about myself. Being the teacher is much harder!

    • Renee Gotcher November 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

      Hello Jocelyn!
      Thank you for your reply — it’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones who feel this way, right? It’s also neat to find other homeschooling parents out there who were both homeschooled, and are now homeschooling too! Although having been exposed to homeschooling makes some things easier (simply knowing what’s out there, how to get plugged in, etc.), becoming the teacher is still just as challenging as it is for anyone. I know it was for me!

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. intoscrapping November 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    What a beautiful article, Renee. I didn’t know that both you and your husband home-schooled and that you graduated as a home-schooler. Kudos to your parents! That would make both our parents pioneers during the time when homeschooling was not yet legalized or accepted by society. Fortunately, there was a home-school co-op that we connected with and had great field trips, recitals, drama productions and other activities with. Although I did not graduate from home-schooling, it was during those years (9th & 10th grade) that we had the flexibility and time to do things that wouldn’t be possible if we were in regular school. One was a two month trip to the Philippines and the other was lots of time to experiment with new cooking and baking recipes. I have not felt the call to be a homeschooling parent, but I highly commend you and other parents for your hard work in your homeschooling endeavors. It is truly a labor of love. Hope you guys have a GREAT school year!

  4. Jade =) November 9, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Very interesting article. My husband was homeschooled his whole schooling career, I was public schooled always. He knew he wanted his kids homeschool, I knew I wanted my kids homeschooled… I just didn’t think I’d be able to do it! But after jumping right in, I’ve loved it and can’t imagine doing anything else. Every once in a while, I think about how nice it would be to have time to myself (like if they were at school), but… I always come back to knowing that I’m doing what God has called me to do, and so here we are!

    Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop, catch me at http://heyitsjade.blogspot.com

    • Renee Gotcher November 9, 2011 at 4:56 am #

      Hi Jade! Thanks for sharing your point of view. Even though both my husband and I were homeschooled, I still didn’t know if I could do it when the time came — and because I was only homeschooled my last two years of high school, I didn’t see my mom teach my siblings to read, learn math, etc., so as I approached it, I had the same insecurities as someone who had never experienced homeschooling.

      Now that I am homeschooling, I realize that even my worst day as a homeschool teacher is so much more rewarding than my best day as a work-at-home mama while my girls were in school. I can’t imagine doing anything else, and I only wish I had started sooner.

      I still miss my time to myself and daydream about how much “more” I could accomplish if I wasn’t spending the majority of my “productive” hours with my girls, but like you, I know it’s a calling that I could no longer ignore. And in the past two years, I can already see how much God has been able to work in our family as a result of being obedient to that calling. I am very grateful for His grace!

      I look forward to keeping up with you on your blog as well. Thanks for visiting us during the Hip Homeschool Hop!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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