F is for …

Welcome! We’re here exploring the world of homeschooling in a series of posts, from A – Z. Not everyone’s homeschool looks the same, so this is a view of mine, but if you spend enough time talking to other homeschoolers, you’ll find my version isn’t too far off the norm. If you’d like to go back and read from the beginning of the series, you can start here: Homeschooling A-Z.

Today we’re looking at the letter F.  I’m not even sure where to start … I can think of SO many F-words! I’ll try my darndest to restrain myself but honestly, I can make ANY word relate to homeschooling. Just watch me.

Brace yourself …

Fabulous

F is for … fabulous! Oh yeah! I said it! Homeschooling is fabulous! What’s not to love about being in control? (Not that I have control issues. Really.) I love the relaxed schedule, the freedom to choose, and the opportunity to spend my children’s childhoods with them. I love watching my children learn, being there when they make discoveries, and hearing them express their excitement. I love saying “Everyone to your room to read for 30 minutes!” … in a pleasant voice … and everyone is happy to oblige! I love sleeping in, not putting my children on a school bus (true bus stories: our neighbor kid took my daughter’s chapstick, bit off a chunk, and ate it … on the bus; one driver forgot my kids were on (kindergarten and preschool – what was I thinking?!?) and drove around with them for another 1/2 hour; one bus driver yelled all the time, even at “the good kids.” She didn’t trust ANY of them!), I love not waiting until 3:45 pm to see my kids, love on them, cuddle them, talk to them, feed them. I love that my kids can eat any time they want or need to. Oh man … I could go on and on! I really do believe homeschooling is fabulous. I try to keep that little tidbit under my hat when I’m around “normal people” (a.k.a. not homeschoolers) … wink wink … because I don’t want to make them jealous.

F is also for … frustration. Well, there’s the reality, too, isn’t it? Sometimes it gets frustrating. It gets frustrating when, after hours of research, we find a piece of educational something-or-other that we just know will be a perfect fit for our kids, only to find: there’s no money in the bank to pay for it; or, it’s not the perfect fit after all; or, a friend says “I wish I had known! I would’ve given you ours for free!” after you’ve already bought it! It gets frustrating when we discover that in our quest to meet the socialization needs plus music, art, and PE requirements, we no longer have time to fit it all of the other subjects. Pick and choose, pick and choose. It’s frustrating to teach, cook, clean, eat, and sleep … and remember to bathe as well. It’s frustrating to figure out if your child is being lazy, has a learning disability, or if you’re just so disorganized that the child can’t function that way. The list of frustrations can get lengthy … if that’s what you focus on. In my house, I choose to act like a duck (most days). I just let the frustrations roll off my back. They’re worth wading through thanks to all the benefits of homeschooling, because in reality, homeschooling is fabulous!!!

F is for … focus. I mentioned this word in the last paragraph. I can’t tell you the number of times (per day) that I say that simple word to my kids as if the concept is simple. “Focus!” It’s hard to focus when you have a million-and-one thoughts running through your head … I should know! Just this one word alone has sent my brain into overdrive … I think I could write a whole article about this idea … yeah, I think I will. But I digress. Luke 12:34 says: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This verse is a faithful reminder to me to keep my focus on the things that matter. My children’s hearts matter. My health matters. Laying an educational foundation matters. My marriage really matters. Our relationships with God and with each other matter most of all. My priorities change by the minute some days, but keeping my focus on what matters at the moment has allowed us to be successful thus far in our homeschooling, and parenting, journey.

Family pic

My Family (without our big kids)

F is for … family. Family is a hard subject to condense into one paragraph. With homeschooling, there’s the issue of whether our extended families are supportive or antagonistic about our choice. For some, there’s the issue of moving away from or closer to family. There are older children growing up and moving out. There are new babies being born and changing the pace of our lives. For me, it all boils down to what I call my core family: my husband and children. I still feel a responsibility to care for my mother (my father passed away in 2010) and maintain a relationship with my siblings and in-laws, but my focus is on my core family. They come first. Their needs come first. Those relationships come first. So, if others don’t like our decision to homeschool, that’s fine. They don’t have to like it. We do. And we do! I’ll admit, I felt the need to prove to our extended families, at first, that this was the right decision for us … but I’m glad I did. It gave me some accountability during the early days when I thought I wanted to give up. I wanted to prove that I could do this, that we could do this. And we did it! And the result? A strong core family, and a supportive, encouraging extended family. I call that a success.

And the opposite of success: F is for … failure. Believe me when I say that some days you will feel like a failure, but if you can ride out that feeling, you can come out on the other side feeling like a superhero! We are adults. We know how to buck up and keep riding, problem-solving our way out of “failure situations. Kids, on the other hand, can take failure a little more to heart. They haven’t had enough experience with it to understand that it’s an important part of learning and growing and maturing. Be there for them. Share stories of your own failures and how you overcame. Or don’t. Remind them of other times they’ve failed and you didn’t think any less of them, and no one else did either. Or don’t. I’m not a psychologist, doctor, or expert in anything. But I’m an idea-generator and a problem-solver and an amazing mom and a loving wife and a pain-in-the-butt daughter and sister … but I’m not a failure. There’s the key. I can experience failure without being a failure. I can learn from, grow from, mature from the experience of failure, without letting it define who. I. am. That is the lesson I want my children to learn. Just one of many, but a big one that will serve them the rest of their lives.

F is for … fear. Fear of failing. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of forgetting something. Fear of pushing the kids too hard. Fear of not pushing them hard enough. Fear of encouraging independence too soon … or too late. Fear of not knowing enough to go all the way. The fears are always lurking around the edges. How do I deal with them? This is one place where denial is a good thing! “Fake it ’til you make it” … pretend you’re not scared until you come out on the other side. Another word for this: courage. Sometimes you just have to be brave, step out in faith, and pray for the best. Fear schmear, I say! I’m doing it anyway!!!

F is  for … faith. Without it, I would be nothing, and this homeschool wouldn’t exist. It took a giant leap of faith to step out of the mainstream public school life and set off in a different direction. I was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, my father-in-law was a teacher, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are both teachers, my cousin is a teacher, my niece’s husband is a teacher, both my best childhood friend and tons of my current friends are public school teachers … every family member I’ve ever had, including my two oldest children and my stepdaughter … oh, and myself and my husband … have only ever known public/private school. But I knew. I knew in the deep recesses of my heart that I had to give this a try … despite my overwhelming fear of failing or giving up. Faith … it can get you through the toughest trials, and lead you down the most amazing paths!

I hope you are encouraged today to look at your homeschool (or the idea of homeschooling) with a new perspective, with faith and courage and an eye toward the future. We can all benefit from changing our outlook on just one little corner of our lives now and then. May these words be a blessing for you.

~ Courageous Mama Jane

Have you stepped out in faith, faced down a fear, or tried something entirely different lately?

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