“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.