This post is part of a series called “Courageous Jane Homeschools from A-Z.”
For more about this series, click here.
Today we’re talking about the letter “H.”
H is for … honesty. Can I just be honest here? Of course I can. It’s my blog, after all. I can do whatever I want. I could tell you all kinds of bald-faced lies and you might not even know it! Personally, I’m nothing if I’m not honest and I wish others were too. Let’s talk about a few homeschooling truths from my perspective. If I’m honest, I’ll readily admit that some days I absolutely LOVE homeschooling, and other days I hate it. Just like most people’s jobs! This is my job right now, and sometimes I wish I could quit, and other times I wake up just rarin’ to get to the schooling and see what my kids can learn! If I’m honest, I’ll admit that I prefer to have my kids home most of the time, but more often than not lately I wish I had more time to myself. If I’m completely honest, I’ll admit that one of the things that draws me to homeschooling is a sense of control … control over our schedule, control over what my kids are exposed to, control over curriculum, control over … who am I kidding?? Have you tried homeschooling? Control is a funny thing. Just when you think you’ve got everything under control, that’s when the proverbial apple cart is bumped. But as Frank A. Clark said, “Why not upset the apple cart? If you don’t, the apples will rot anyway.” Yes, if I’m really honest, I’ll admit that I don’t want to risk rotten apples in the future, so I upset the apple cart often … I shake things up and do things differently, and by doing that, the freshness keeps me going and allows me to love it all over again.
Speaking of being honest …
H is for … “How are you today?” Ugh. Some days I just hate that question. Do you really want to know that I’m feeling gassy and bloated, the dog has thrown up again, and the kids had popcorn for breakfast while watching something uneducational just so I could get through the morning without snapping at someone? Is that what you wanted to know?!? Then again, there are the days when I wish someone would ask! Yesterday was filled with wonderful, positive, brag-worthy events but no one asked! I recently asked a woman how she was and she answered “Groovy!” and then went on with the question she had for me as if that’s her natural answer. I need to think of a snazzy answer like “Groovy!” for the next time I’m asked. But I think people should be really careful about asking homeschoolers how they are today. They might run into someone who is really honest and get more than they’d hoped for.
H is for … the home in homeschooling. Some call it home education. Some call it school at home. No matter what you call it, the operative word is “home.” We don’t always all stay home … I imagine there must be some homeschoolers who do it all at home, but many of us take a variety of classes and attend programs or join coops and clubs and do some of our learning outside the home. There’s no right or wrong to that. It’s what works for each family … and what works for my family is to learn wherever learning is available. But we love to be at home and I prefer that my children’s characters are built here, by us, rather than leaving it to chance and letting others mold their characters based on their own perceptions of reality and society’s expectations. (Have you heard the quote about it taking a village to raise a child? I prefer the one that states “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.”) Regardless of the character issues, our family life is more often peaceful, entertaining, and enjoyable when we spend more time at home than away. When my children were in public school and riding buses, our family life was often chaotic, stressful, and exhausting as we tried to keep up. For us, being home has made all the difference. I think we’ll keep it this way.
H is for … humor. Nothing fixes a stressful, whiny situation in my home faster or better than a good dose of humor. And when you homeschool, you’re often faced with stressful, whiny situations. Nobody wants to do math, including Mom. Someone sat where the other was planning to sit. This one walked the dogs last time so the other should have to do it this time. I’ve been known to say to my kids “Would you be acting like that if you were in a classroom at a school?” or “Would you act like this with your friends?” or some such nonsense. But throwing something silly at them brings laughter and cooperation faster and improves everyone’s mood. (You’ve also got to have a good sense of humor to survive joke after joke from any 10-year-old boys you have in your life. I’m just sayin’.)
H is for … humility. Did you really think you could do it all yourself?!? Yeah, right. Nothing brings out the humble in a mom like having to admit that she needs help with teaching her child something. I’ve always been a good reader and an excellent speller. My two oldest children had no issues either. Then came my two youngest and we discovered that reading and spelling are a challenge for them. I tried what I thought was everything. When I finally humbled myself enough to admit to others that I didn’t know where to go next, they not only started pointing me in the direction of alternatives, but they also offered to help! My kids now read at a perfectly acceptable level (and I continue to work on that), and we’re persevering with the spelling. If there is something you’re struggling with, enjoy a slice of humble pie and ask. for. help!
Speaking of help …
H is for … help. Help!!! I’m stuck inside the body of a homeschooling mom! How did I get here?!? This is not what I expected. I knew I’d be a mom (God willing), and I knew I’d be a teacher (because I didn’t know there might be any other options for myself). But a homeschooling mom?!? That wasn’t on my radar. I went to college and earned a bachelor of arts degree in Elementary Education, got married, started having kids, and worked as a substitute teacher interspersed with being a stay-at-home mom. (Ok, if I’m honest, I have to tell you that I threw a bunch of other part-time & full-time jobs in there over the years to either keep us financially afloat, to relieve the boredom, or out of some sense of guilt over the idea that I was “doing nothing” while staying home raising my children. Hmph.) I was young, and my family life and society had already presented me with a clear roadmap for “How to Live as an Adult.” And I did my best to follow that map for fear of getting lost. But somewhere along the road I found the courage to chuck the map, take a good look at the world around me, and set out to intentionally pave my own path. God had planted the homeschooling suggestion several times in different ways, and once I finally grasped this idea as acceptable for us, embraced the freedom to do things our own way, and embarked on the journey, I finally found “the right way” for me. No more roadmaps. No more trying to do it a certain way just because that’s how it’s always been done or because it worked for someone else. If I’m going to lead these kids, I’m going to lead them down the road God put before us and let His light show me the way.
H is for … hope. Hope for the future. The near future … hope that the kids have learned enough this year to have a firm foundation for next year’s learning. The close-distant future … hope that the kids will have learned enough through our years of homeschooling that they will be prepared for the lives God has intended each of them to live. The far-future … hope that my grown children will not resent the choices I’ve made for them as children, and will live productive, faith-filled lives with love flowing abundantly through and around them. And forever … hope that God will remember his promises and will bring each of us home to Him, where we belong. I hope … that my actions, choices, and words while homeschooling and at all times will be a blessing to my children, my husband, my family and friends, and all I come into contact with (physically and in the virtual world through my computer). I would be nothing without hope.
And I hope you are blessed in a special way today!
~ Courageous Mama Jane