Encouragement Hip News DO NOT USE Homeschool

I'm the Poster Mom for Homeschooling….Not!

“You’ve been homeschooling for how many years?” the young woman loudly exclaimed at the park where all the homeschooling moms were hanging out waiting for their children to finish state testing. “Mmmmm . . . 15,” I mumble under my breath as I watch a crowd begin to gather around the park bench.

And then it happens, just like that I am standing in front of a crowd of ladies who are fussing over me like I am some type of homeschool celebrity Mom who has in her possession the coveted secrets to successful homeschooling.

I reluctantly admit that yes, I have been homeschooling for 15 years and with eight children ranging in age from 2 to 22, I have 15 more years to go. (And after a few gasps and stares of disbelief someone says under her breath . . . “Wow, she looks great for having eight kids” . . . leaving me: an overweight, out of shape, mascara smudged, slightly frazzled looking girl . . . wondering what exactly they think a Mom of eight is supposed to look like???? . . . but I digress.) For a split second, though, I picture myself as the “poster Mom” for homeschooling before I am quickly snapped back into reality by my two year old who has peed in her pants because I got distracted by a phone call from one of my college kids and forgot that baby girl had told me awhile back that she needed to go potty! Oy vey! Besides not being a celebrity homeschooler, I am more often than not, less than a stellar Mom.

And yet even after informing them of the “real homeschooling me” . . .

  • • that I have been known to not order my curriculum until weeks after the start of the school year
  • • that I often forget what grade my kids are currently in
  • • that I can’t remember the last time I actually scored a test or assignment
  • • that we never . . . and I mean never . . . finish our curriculum each year (and there may or may not have been years where we didn’t start it either)
  • • that my all time favorite science lesson is for the kids to examine mold close up in the bathroom . . . with a sponge
  • • that if I can’t explain a 6th grade math problem I shrug my shoulders and say . . . “Oh what the heck. I’ve gotten along this many years without knowing that”
  • • that we don’t have an official first day or last day of school (maybe that explains why I can’t remember what grade they are in or have curriculum ordered)
  • • that there is a distinct possibility that I let my then 10-year-old daughter teach her younger siblings for months on end as I lay in bed with morning sickness

. . . yes, even after hearing all of these realities of my homeschooling life, it doesn’t scare them off or make them run away shaking their heads in disgust. And so slowly I share my “secrets to successful homeschooling” with those inquiring minds.

1. If I do nothing more than have prayer & devotions . . . it’s been a good day!

A very wise homeschooling Momma told me this nugget of truth when I was just starting my homeschooling journey (which by the way wasn’t ever my plan . . . but that is another story for another day). Her six kids were bright, extremely accomplished, athletic, musical and had outstanding character. It set me free of the stress of trying to accomplish, strive for perfection, and look good to everyone around me. You simply can’t do better than having the favor of God!

2. Life is school!

Okay, sometimes you need to do lessons but really ALL of life is school – chores, running errands, phone calls, grocery shopping, being a spectator at a siblings athletic event – all involve learning. Therefore we “do” school all the time and on occasion we also complete lessons!

3. Relationships are not just the most important thing . . . they are the only thing

The only reason I homeschool is to develop & strengthen my children’s relationship with God, with their Daddy, each other and me. At the end of the day, relationships are really the only thing that matter. And homeschooling is the perfect incubator for growing close relationships because of the sheer amount of time we are all together . . . making memories, solving conflicts, bearing one another’s burdens and loving through all of life’s ups & downs.

4. Learning is a personal responsibility

I can’t make anyone learn anything . . . and neither can you! Inspire your children to want to learn for themselves. Let them investigate, figure it out (even if it is hard), research and find the answers. When they can do this then they are truly educated and will be lifelong learners.

5. Begin with the end in mind

What do you want your children to “look” like when they are grown. I want mine to love the Lord, to have great relationships with their family, to have found and developed their passions combined with their unique gifts & talents and to be using them to have a positive influence in the world. I concentrate my homeschooling efforts around these outcomes . . . anything else we accomplish is a bonus!

 

Beth Lambdin is a recovering “control freak” who is hopelessly addicted to coffee & dark chocolate and got a “sweet deal” on a husband who has been her best friend for 25 years. She is “Mommy” to eight blessings from God and has been faithfully following & failing Jesus for over three decades. She blogs at Monday Motivation & More.

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  • What a great post! So encouraging to me this morning. This week we have skipped most of school because of various things and I have felt like a failure as a teacher and mother. I feel like I have no excuse because I have only one child and he’s already finished a couple of his subjects. Thank you for the encouragement to focus on the real subjects he should be learning!

    • Some of the best weeks (the ones with truly the most amount of lifelong & important learning happening) are those weeks we accomplish nothing that resembles “traditional school” or lessons! You are not a failure! 🙂 I am so glad you were encouraged!

  • Good stuff! Thanks for sharing your heart, your humor and your wisdom with us that aren’t quite as far down the homeschooling road. : ) Enjoyed it!
    Blessings, ~Kristy~ AKA Mama to the Man Crew

  • I love reading about your experiences, and look forward to more of your honest, and helpful posts.

    My daughter and I are about to set out on a year long, nationwide speaking/awareness tour; and so my immersion into the home school experience is about to begin! My goals line up with yours, and I am looking forward to being able to have this time to expand my daughter’s love of the Lord, learning opportunities, and invest in her spiritual/educational future.

    Blessings to you,
    ~Kimberly
    http://www.TheButterflyExpress.com

  • I so needed to hear #1 today!!! Thank you so much for sharing and praise God for all you do and for sharing a piece of the pie with some of us *new* homeschooling Mommas!!! Thank you and God bless!

  • Thank you for this post! This is my first year homeschooling, well second year actually, it’s our first successful year. I tried homeschooling my daughter for Kindergarten and it didn’t go well and she went to public school the next two years. I loved reading this and remembering why we tried again! And I’m so glad we did. We have LOVED. This year and are looking forward to many more!

      • That’s what its ALL about!! Thank you again for a great, encouraging post. I have actually printed out your four points and hung them on the wall in the kitchen and labeled them “Homeschool Rules”! 🙂

  • Great post, Beth . . . Mrs. Lambdin. We’re going to be homeschooling our oldest daughter for kindergarten next year.

  • OMGoodness!! I laughed out loud several times. I was encouraged and blessed and challenged. If I lived anywhere near you, you’d be tired of me being your shadow all the time.

  • Really love this post. It really spoke to me today. Great lessons to be learned. #4 especially resonated with me. I was just thinking and praying about this yesterday. I can not make my daughter learn anything, all I can do is give her tools to follow her passions. Great post!

    • #4 is really a key whether or not you homeschool, private or public school. As a high school teacher for 12 years (back in the day!) and as the wife of a teacher….it is TRUTH! Teachers can only inspire learning…the only person who can really learn is the student!

  • I love this post! I’m comforted to k now there are others like me…..the curriculum comments especially hit home. : )

  • Thank you so much – these are great lessons, even for a not-yet-homeschooling-for-religious-reasons-of-all-things mom!

  • I love this and I think I love you! 🙂

    I get the same type of response from people because A. I’m a homeschool grad myself (and yes, I can talk. And get a job. And have friends) B. I homeschool my own three and C. I write for homeschool magazines.
    So whenever they start to look all googly-eyed at me and exclaim, “Oh boy, you can teach me how to do this!” I calmly reply, “I can certainly tell you how NOT to do it most days!”

    I’m off to check out your blog now. We really think alike!

  • so the day after I search my soul, share my insecurities, and post my tentative blog about thinking maybe I could homeschool…possibly, the poster homeschool mom blogs here…I can’t cut a break!!
    thanks for sharing!!
    Holly

  • You have absolutely no idea how much I needed to read this today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing these encouraging words.

  • Such wonderful words of wisdom that all of us would do well to remember. I was homeschooled, and even though it was just me and my brother (the other 14 were not homeschooled) we never really finished each year, there were many lessons skipped and tests completed open book style. But, we attended daily Mass, loved learning about our Faith, our Church, and the saints. We also loved spending time with our mom and dad, each other, and all of our family. These are the things that really matter in homeschooling. Thanks for pointing them out!

    • Thank you for affirming this as a homeschooled student! I know my children wouldn’t change a thing about the way we did things. I should add that I never had the “typical” issues with my girls as teens because of the close relationships we have formed through our day to day togetherness. Such a blessing!

      • Also a great point Beth!
        My daughter and I are to this day, good friends. She was always studious and better educated than her peers. She was and is independant yet cooperative. She has the ability to question authority respectfully and constructively.
        Once my boys were included in a study of elementary kids and the head psychologist called me personally to tell me they were the only homeschooled kids in the study. In that moment I feared she had some criticisms. She was actually impressed at the ways they completed the tasks they were given, but with fun and creative self-expression, appropriate and unintimidated by authority.
        We did live under a microscope, but in the end we gained support and approval.

  • Reading this, I felt like I could have written it! By God’s grace we have made it this far! And actually graduated a couple of them!

  • Oh my gosh! I totally needed to hear this as a 2 month in homeschooling mommy! It is stories like this that make me realize I am doing what’s best for my 8 year old by helping her experience life as a family! Thank you so much!

  • Oh so true! Thanks for the reminders – about starting the day off right, and what’s important. Too often I get caught up in trying to check it all off the list! I appreciate your wisdom. God Bless you!
    Michelle

  • Thank you for your humble heart to encourage others. This is everything I feel about homeschooling, only articulated better! I may print and hang on my ‘fridge to remind myself often!

  • “If I do nothing more than have prayer & devotions . . . it’s been a good day!”
    I have to remember this…and when it’s a bad day…I need to stop and do it again if I have to. 🙂

  • Beth,

    I love this post! You make me feel so normal. I’m not alone. I recently posted a picture of our homeschool closet on my blog and if we find the time to organize we may find a curriculum or two that I intended to use this year!

    I agree with your final point “Begin with the End in Mind”. You articulate my thoughts exactly.

    After reading a book by John Taylor Gatto, (the New York teacher of the year who quit because he saw what a disaster he was involved in), I was more convicted than ever that keeping them at home under any circumstances is better than putting them into the nightmare of the public school system. In fact, I think Mr Gatto even makes that point – they’re better off at home than in the mess our schools have become.

    Thanks for your honesty, humor and encouragement.
    Love,
    Laura

    • There is truly no place like home! The way we “do” school currently in the US & around the world is still relatively “new” & really in most cases a “failed” expiriment. Throughout the centuries most children were home educated until their early adult years and it appeared to work great!

  • I had 4 kids and we homeschooled for 7 years. During that time I had neurosurgery and had to relearn to read…who taught who what??? What we gained was spending all of our lives learning together, and loving each other through thick and thin. I most loved the flexibility to find new ways to teach for each child’s needs, the artistic to the concrete. 4H was a big help, other homeschool families, our church, and skeptical neighbors who ended up loving us rather than turning us in to CPS for neglecting our kids! haha. We gained opportunities to turn thought and ideals into action doing community service, too. You are brave and committed families and I commend you for right priorities! My kids are adults to be proud of! All unique and good at what they do.

  • I so very much needed this today! I forget that bigger picture and get too focused on how “behind” we are in finishing our math curriculum or that my child’s handwriting is atrocious. Instead of looking into their sweet little eyes as they pray all the time, or sing worship to the Lord when no one is listening, or how they spend all morning building forts together. I love it that my kids look for each other in a crowd and love playing together. I love how the outdoors is a big playground of adventure just waiting to be discovered. The Math, Spelling, Reading and grammar will all come, but the bigger picture is preparing young hearts to love and serve God. Thank you for getting my perspective today back to 20/20.

    Melissa

    • Oh Melissa! Your children sound delightful! So glad I could help your vision return today…I do remember occasionally having “panic” attacks thinking I might be ruining my kids. Thankfully I was able to take that panbic to God & let it go. They don’t happen anymore with my younger children because I can look at my 22 year old (about to graduate in 2 weeks from college with a degree in Politics, Philosophy & Economics), my 19 year old (thrilving as a freshman in college & playing soccer on scholarship), my 18 year old who has been accepted to college & pursuing an internship that she is passionate about. It is nice to see that the results of my beautiful, messy, unfinished homeschooling efforts.

  • I so very much needed this today! I forget that bigger picture and get too focused on how “behind” we are in finishing our math curriculum or that my child’s handwriting is atrocious. Instead of looking into their sweet little eyes as they pray all the time, or sing worship to the Lord when no one is listening, or how they spend all morning building forts together. I love it that my kids look for each other in a crowd and love playing together. I love how the outdoors is a big playground of adventure just waiting to be discovered. The Math, Spelling, Reading and grammar will all come, but the bigger picture is preparing young hearts to love and serve God. Thank you for getting my perspective today back to 20/20.

    Melissa

  • Well said! Yes,yes,yes! Life is school! My 8th grade homeschooler gladly and tenderly nursed me today (recovering from a broken collar bone), fixed all meals, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen and worked on producing a video for her older sisters to show at school. No algebra, English or history lessons today…maybe tomorrow on a Saturday?! Maybe not?

  • I really liked your article and can relate to many topics you wrote about. I especially liked the last part about your goals for your children, loving the Lord, family, and finding their passions and talents. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only homeschooling mom out there that thinks along the same lines.

  • Lovely. Hope no one from the Pennsylvania Department of Education reads this, or else we are going to end up with even MORE regulation than we already have.

    • In case the PA Dept of Ed (although I am not from PA) is interested in the outcomes:

      100% high school graduation rate 3 out of 3 to date

      100% of our high school graduates performed at honors level (3.) One graduated as Valedictorian with a 4.0, One even with severe learning disabilities graduated with a 3.1 & the most recent with honors at a 3.5

      100% of our high school graduates have been accepted to several colleges, received academic scholarships and are attending college or university. (the oldest is graduating from college in two weeks with a degree in Politics, Philosophy & Economics)

      I believe perhaps that the statistics for the state of Pennsylvania may not be that high for graduation, honors & continuing on to higher education…which I assume are their goals and expected outcomes of their educational system.

      • Stats like those from dozens of families haven’t convinced the PDE to reduce the regulatory burden on families currently homeschooling in Pa, but articles like this one can be used by those who oppose homeschooling to push forward an agenda for even more regulation. I don’t appreciate that at all. The PDE has no sense of irony when homeschoolers point out the failure of public schools in PA, but they do have the power to make life even more difficult for those of us who homeschool there. The fact that my own kids tend to score four to six years ahead of grade level on standardized testing hasn’t excused me from needing to present a portfolio of work, meet with a certified teacher for evaluation, and submit a list of books and the dates they were used, every single year to our school superintendent. I’d rather spend that time with my kids, not defending their education.

        • Judy…..I am truly sorry that homeschooling in Pennsylvania is such a struggle. And I can understand your unappreciation of anything that you feel might threaten your right to homeschool or cause you more work or hardship.

          I, however, do not think that the answer is to bow to the “powers that be” in the education department of any state or our nation or to live in fear. It is our constitutional right in the USA to have a choice when it comes to educating our children and there are a multitude of ways to acheive that education….and they do not all “look” the same. Those in the “power positions” of education need to broaden their minds, do a bit of research and choose to not ignore the telling results of any type of education – public, private, charter, or homeschool. If they refuse then we need to band together and fight for our rights and choices.

          Now of course if those in authority that truly have a different agenda….simply to stop any type of education they deem subpar, regardless of the results….they press on and continue to fight all choice in this matter. I seriously doubt they need my testimony to carry on with their agenda. They will continue to fight…no matter what. As parents who believe in educayional choice…perhaps we could all learn a lesson from them.

          I am praying for some of our ( and by “our I mean yours, mine and all those homeschooling Mom’s) bright young homeschooled students to rise up in the coming years and take on this fight!

  • Thanks for sharing. You beautifully summed up what I believe and has been the mainstay of our 10 years of homeschooling. I’ve had a lot of doubts lately as we are now in the highschool stage. I’ve been discouraged and frustrated but this reminded me of the joy and passion we’ve experienced over the years and energizes me to carry on even if some years we never even start the curriculum.

  • Amen Beth. Someone told me when I first started homeschooling. The love for the Lord and character is most important and if your child has that all other learning will fall in line. I believe it and see the fruit. We do follow a schedule but if we don’t get everything done each day we don’t stress and understand that tomorrow is a new day with new beginnings. Great is HIS faithfulness. Hugs! Karen Snow

  • Beth thanks for sharing! I too am a homeschooling mom ages 2 to 23! Yes it’s a way of life, life is school…we sound so much like your home when it comes to schooling! Be blessed and thanks for sharing again!

  • Exactly. Like you, I’ve been at it for 15 years, with 10 children ages 2 to 23. Every point you made is mine exactly, and only because of the Lord. Interestingly, I’m at a crossroads, of sorts, and am grateful for running across your article. As a “seasoned” Mom/Educator, like you, even I needed to hear this today… Thank you.

  • Thank you for this. I am so relieved that someone else out there has expresses their homeschooling life so honestly. There are days… and then THERE ARE DAYS! Blessings and thanks again.

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