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Because there will be days that challenge us…

28 Aug

By Rosanna Ward

I have been homeschooling since the fall of 2004, so this is the beginning of my 8th year. I was also homeschooled as a jr. high and high school student. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of homeschooling and all of the reasons parents do it. I realize the importance of imparting a Biblical worldview into my children on a day-to-day basis. I enjoy being with my kids when they are learning something new, and I get to see the “light bulb” moments I would otherwise miss if they were in school all day.

But I have to be totally honest here: There are days (and weeks) when I totally want to be selfish and put my child back in public school — for several reasons:

  1. I miss having time to myself. I sometimes daydream about having a day where Joel is in public school, Leif is in a mother’s day out program, and I can do things alone. I can schedule my day the way I want. Even though I know it’s is unrealistic, I see it as being calmer and more peaceful.
  2. I’d like to spend some time on myself. I need time to go to the gym. I’d even like to take a shower by myself and fix my hair without worrying that my house is getting torn apart by my two-year-old and that my seven-year-old is watching cartoons when I told him not to.
  3. I have a book in my head that I would really like to have the time to write. I want to spend more time researching genealogy, canning jelly, painting my house, reading, etc.  I look at other parents that have their kids in public schools, good Christian parents that love their children, and I wonder: “Why can’t I be like them?”

But I’ve been there — I have been like them. When the girls were in elementary school, I had time to myself — and I remember that it wasn’t perfect like it seems in my daydreams. I felt lost, bored, restless, and selfish. In fact, I ended up going back to school and getting a job to fill the void their absence left. I enjoyed my job and all the things I learned, but I always felt torn between being at work and taking care of my family.

My days and my life are much more fulfilled now, even though they are harder. I also remember the drop off and pick up lines, the lunch runs when things were forgotten, and the constant school activities. And worst of all, my girls came home with attitudes that didn’t fit into our family values. I watched as they slowly lost their love and hunger for learning.

Lastly, it is a lot of pressure to have the educational future of your child resting solely on your shoulders — and sometimes, the burden feels like too much. It’s just plain scary. I mean really, what if I totally mess this kid up? Or barring that, (because I don’t think a loving parent really can totally mess a kid up), more practically speaking, what if I don’t provide every opportunity for my child to be the very best that God made him to be? What if in my own selfish, sinful, imperfect way, I screw things up for him?

I have to tell you, I have been really dealing with all of these issues lately. And I don’t know if Joel senses this, or if his attitude has really pushed my buttons lately, but Friday and today really started out tough. Joel had a bad attitude, and I was unsure of the best way to deal with it. I question my own thoughts, attitudes, abilities, and consistency on a daily basis, and I am sure that comes through to Joel. I worry that I am not providing every opportunity that he needs to succeed. I worry that if I slack — even for just one week — Joel will have this huge learning gap that will impair his future.

And this is totally silly, I know, I know! I lived this homeschool lifestyle as a student. In fact, I know my parents left me with learning gaps, and kids in public school definitely have learning gaps too. But I had no problems in college. If there were things I didn’t know at all, I knew how to learn about them. I still love learning new things, and there is always going to be more to learn. The whole point of school is to learn how to learn.

Plus, I have two daughters that have successfully graduated from homeschool, scored well on their ACT tests, have great work attitudes, and are God-loving, well-rounded young ladies. I know that I can do this with God’s help — because I have already done it. This is just the first time I am starting from the beginning, and it seems like a very long climb.

This homeschool lifestyle is a sacrifice as well as a blessing. Sometimes we feel the sacrifice more than the blessing, and sometimes we feel like we aren’t sacrificing enough. But the times when we feel the pressure and the terror of what we are doing are the times that God is reminding us to keep Him in the center of what we are doing.

God knows exactly what your children need. He gave them to you to parent because He wanted you to shepherd them through their growing years. If you allow God to lead you — and remember to put Him in His correct position at the head of your family and your school each day — then the things your child needs to learn will get learned. And you will have peace.

Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of 19 years and mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 7-year-old son Joel and her youngest son is a toddler. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling for seven years. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy: Her genealogy blog is called “Rosanna’s Genealogical Thoughts.” She and her family reside in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

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!

Why We Homeschool: Cristina Eklund

21 Oct

By Cristina Eklund

The reasons my husband and I decided to homeschool our two children are many. However, let me first start out with those things that were not our reasons to homeschool:

  • Because we fear the public education system, though it is clearly failing.
  • Because we think Christian education ensures our children’s future status of becoming Christians and remaining on a straight and narrow path, though it is our prayer.
  • Because we think all Christians should homeschool.
  • Because I love being home with the kids morning, noon and night — on the contrary, I actually love working outside the home, though I have felt called by God in the past two years to stay at home.
  • Because I think I can do a much better job of educating my kids than a private school.

Now that I got that out of the way, I will share some of the thoughts that did lead to our decision to homeschool. Both my husband and I were homeschooled: My husband until the 3rd grade and myself from 6th grade through high school. We can both look back at our own homeschooled years and in retrospect, examine the pros and cons with sober minds. One thing we can’t shake is that we — and even more, I — know my son and daughter better than anyone else in the world. At this point, I’ve spent the most time with them, and I know what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, and what touches their little hearts. We as parents, more than anyone, want all the most beautiful and blessed things for our children. That means environment, experiences, and memories.

Elijah & Arielle Eklund

As a result, one of the biggest factors that concerned us was the social side of school. Though I can trust another system or adult with educating my kids in the driest sense of the word, I don’t trust where my children will fall in the rankings of cliches and social prejudices among their peers. Yes, one day they will face the ugly reality of peers and peer pressure, but I want to do all I can to prepare them for it and develop their sense of self to stand firm when faced with such challenges. Whether we decide to put them in school in fourth grade or in college, I want the most formative years of their lives to be spent learning who they are in God’s eyes, experiencing the small wonders of life in purity and being able to express themselves freely as they discover it all.

Having said all this, I haven’t mentioned the call in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 that weighs heavy on our hearts daily: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

Ultimately we realize that it is our prayer and living a pure Christan life that will most influence our children toward becoming and walking as believers themselves. But may every moment we are able to share with them – and teach them — provide them with a storehouse of spiritual wealth they will utilize for the rest of their lives.

— Cristina Eklund is wife to Jeremy Eklund (who was also homeschooled) and mother of son Elijah (5) and daughter Arielle (3). She was homeschooled from 6th grade through high school and has been homeschooling her children since 2010. After living in Nicaragua for two years to do missionary work, the Eklunds now reside in Concord, Calif.

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