The Night Before Homeschooling…

..and all through the house, Tara is procrastinating.

That was the first line of my first blog post, written the night before our first official day of homeschooling.

That was three years ago, and much has changed.  The night before we start our fourth year of homeschooling seems like a good time to stop and reflect.  Here’s a list.

  • We went from two kids to three.
  • I despaired about trying to raise a teenage girl whose previous education and family life were woefully inadequate. Then I decided to decorate her room with her because that was something we could do something about, and sometimes that’s all you can do.
  • We found out both boys have learning disabilities.
  • I despaired about them ever having productive, meaningful lives, and then I changed my definition of a productive, meaningful life.
  • The boys and I spent a lot of time crying and being angry at one another when no one could follow my elaborate schedule, or meet my extensive list of goals, or even write sentences that consistently began with a capital letter.
  • I despaired about failing them as teacher, threw out my rigid schedule and goals, and accepted that homeschooling involves lots of crying and anger.
  • We started and abandoned many curricula, reform efforts, and rules in an attempt to make this thing work for us.
  • Eventually, we figured out that everything worked better when we exercised more, spent more time outside, spent more time making art and studying history, found friends to work with regularly, and worked more often in public, where it’s too embarrassing to act the way we act at home.

I love homeschooling in ways I couldn’t have imagined three years ago.  But it’s never been easy, and many days I worry that we are not preparing any of our children well enough for what lies ahead, especially as we adopt a less-than-driven approach to schooling.  When that happens, I stop and remind myself of why we are doing this. And I remember the blog of a young man I followed in the months before we decided to pull the boys out of school.  

This young man had been homeschooled his whole life and hadn’t done much in the way of preparing for college.  He spent nearly all his time in the woods, studying birds, and working with local wildlife refuges. Shortly before he had to take his SATs, he decided to take out some books and study for them.  I don’t remember his score anymore, but it was nearly perfect. Naturally, then, he chose to attend a small community college in the southwest.  It had the only program in the country that would prepare him to rescue birds of prey.

One of the comforts of my faith is that there are no accidental people.  Each of us is born with a purpose.  It may not be as clear or sexy as rescuing birds, but it is a purpose just the same.  We all have a common purpose, of course – to reflect the glory of our creator.  But God made each of us — including my daughter who still has trouble with basic arithmetic, and my son who misses social cues and nuanced language in ways that are painful, and my son who has written himself off as a dyslexic who will never learn to write, and me, who wakes up every day and prays for patience and gentleness and goes to bed every night repenting of impatience and harshness – he made each of us to reflect his glory in a unique and beautiful way. Occasionally, I see glimpses of what it’s going to look like for us down the road.  Mostly, though, I see it with the eyes of faith.

Unlike three years ago, I go to bed tonight with no clear plans for tomorrow.  Instead, I have a vision for our future.  I’d say it’s been a good three years.

  • Ann Boyd

    Tara, this is great. I totally get myself in trouble when I start comparing my kids with other kids, but I think if you are able to receive your child as they are and then just help them to move along a little bit in maturity and knowledge, that is the best kind of educating we can do. It sounds like your family is ready for a relaxed rhythm and I’m so glad you are embracing it!


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