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Never Say Never (Or How I Became A Homeschool Mom)

Isn’t life funny in that you sometimes find yourself doing–and often loving–the exact things that you once swore that you’d never do?

If there’s one thing that I never wanted to do, it was homeschool.
I had a long list of reasons why it was just not something that would ever work for our family.

Among these reasons:

  1. I could never be a full-time stay-at-home mom. Of course I’d have to give up outside employment altogether in order to homeschool.
  2. Our child(ren) would do much better to have a teacher who is not their mother. We would butt heads way too often.
  3. We are committed to education from a Biblical worldview and had the perfect Christian school for our children to attend. It’s where I was a former teacher and my husband taught for several years as well.
  4. How on earth could I teach four children at different ages and stages at the same time?
  5. I’m a former classroom teacher. Homeschooling is for people who balk at formal education, not for teaching professionals.

Well, when our dream of living a lifestyle of full-time travel started to develop into a reality, our oldest daughter was 6 and in Kindergarten at the awesome private Christian school that we’d envisioned her attending since infancy. We slowly realized that on the road, homeschooling would be our only educational option for our children. Back to the drawing board and time to address our arguments against homeschooling if this traveling dream was ever going to come to fruition.

  1. Yeah, that whole “I could never be a stay-at-home mom” thing? While I was employed anywhere between full-time, to 3 part-time jobs, to one job that was intermittent yet had full-time hours, to one part-time job with minimal hours in my first seven years of motherhood, I never lasted more than three months as a stay-at-home mom before seeking outside employment.
    Until last June. I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom for over a year now.
    (Well, if you don’t count the fact that my home doesn’t even “stay” anywhere!)
    And I’m happy to report that being without gainful employment of my own hasn’t killed me yet!
  2. The child that I was certain that I would butt heads with in a teacher/pupil relationship? She’s a joy to teach! She’s bright, inquisitive and eager to learn. She begs for more books to read and we often discuss the themes together of the stories that she is reading. As much as I try not to use worksheets and paper/pencil work in our homeschool, she asks to do these and excels at her copywork without complaint. This same child that I had to hover over to complete her homework in Kindergarten has become a self-starter.
  3. We are still committed to teaching from a Biblical worldview. We have found a literature-based curriculum company, Sonlight Curriculum, that fits well with both our desire to teach our children with a Biblical perspective, while utilizing real, living books to teach from instead of textbooks, and without the over-the-top Biblical integrations that are sometimes a bit of a stretch. We are still able to teach our children in the same manner that they would have been taught at our private Christian school.
  4. One reason that we initially chose Sonlight as our framework for homeschooling is because it is easily adaptable for multiple ages and ability levels of children. This year, we have an 8, 6.5 and nearly 5-year-old (and nearly 3-year-old) who are all using the same curriculum, with individualized reading and language arts for each child and slightly modified math activities for our younger children from our older girls. It feels an awful lot like teaching in a first grade classroom with some children who are more advanced and working at a second or third grade level and others who are working at a young Kindergarten level. I suppose if our children were a broader age range, then it might pose more challenges, but learning together with our crew is much simpler than I expected that it would be.
  5. While I struggled to break the mold of “doing school at home” in our first couple of months of homeschooling, I’ve come to see that my philosophy of education lends itself well to homeschooling. Life is all about learning, and by de-compartmentalizing school from life, our educational opportunities as a family have become exponentially greater.

I’m reminded of a conversation that I had with my former principal whom I loved and respected greatly. When our oldest was a baby and I contemplated if and when I might return to the classroom to teach and what the future might hold for our family, she told me, “Christian school is great, but homeschooling is the best, if it works for your family.” Coming from a woman with 50 years of professional educational experience, I’ve always taken that statement to heart.

So, here I am. Doing one of those things that I swore I’d never do…

…And loving it!

I’d dare say that I think that I’ve stumbled upon one of my true passions and callings in life. While I loved teaching in the classroom, and have always been an avid lifelong learner, teaching and learning full-time alongside my own children is where I’ve hit my stride.
I hope that as you journey down the road with us–even if you are committed to “Never, ever be a homeschool mom”–that perhaps you’ll be able to use some of the ideas that I share with your own children, or other kids that you love in your life.
And be careful about what you say you’ll never do. You might have to eat a slice of humble pie one day when you find yourself doing just that thing.

Which reminds me, someday I’ll have to tell y’all about the time that I swore that I’d never, ever, EVER sew again…