Monday, March 19, 2012

Homeschooling: The stuff They Don't Tell You.

Sometimes blogs paint a lopsided picture of life.  By nature, many of us write about the sweet spots in our day, and leave out the mundane, irritating, or icky details.  We don't like to dwell on our imperfections, but I think that while writing about homeschooling, it's important to give a balanced assessment of our experiences. Although it's not an exhaustive list, here are a handful of things I need to be honest about, lest you think homeschooling is all roses and no thorns.

There have been days when I've looked longingly out the window as the school bus drives by, and I daydream about what it would be like to have eight hours a day without kids here so I could get the housework done. I think of how productive I'd be, and how my house would sparkle at all times like a Mr. Clean commercial. I would have time for interior decorating, organizing my spice drawer, and lining my cabinets with contact paper. The house would smell lemony fresh and nothing would ever dwell under the couch cushions.

I've occasionally felt a tinge of jealousy when my friends get together midweek for coffee or lunch at our favorite cafe without me because I'm in the middle of my school day and/or don't have a babysitter. They go to Zumba classes and do body sculpting work-outs with trainers while I do exercise videos in my living room with my kids who use canned peaches for weights.

For one micro-second, I once thought about how much more money we could have if I sent the kids to school and went to work. Homeschooling can be expensive!

After teaching the same concept seven different ways, I sometimes want to bang my head against the wall.

Whenever my kids come to me with a worksheet saying they "don't get it", I make them read the directions out loud. 90% of the time, that's all they needed for understanding. 

Sometimes my kids do science projects that include putting ugly jars of mud in my kitchen window sill  to study the sediment layers.They occasionally use all of the salt in the salt shaker to grow crystals in plastic cups. They tape Ziploc baggies and moist cotton balls to the window to grow seeds and then forget about them until they start to mold. One time they used my good fabric scissors to cut twist ties for an art project. 

After dutifully listening to 3 kids each read to me for 30 minutes on the couch, I once dozed off  while my oldest child was reading Pilgrims Progress aloud. He had to nudge me awake so I could ask him the comprehension questions at the end of the chapter.  He never lets me forget that day. 

Despite five years of homeschooling our children, I'm fairly certain that none of them are going to be musical prodigies, win a national spelling or geography bee, invent the next engineering marvel, or create the next Picasso. They aren't fluent in Latin, can't write their own computer software, and won't be the next Von Trapp Family Singers.

During the school year, I don't have time in my day to chat on the phone, surf the internet, or watch TV.  I can't even look at Pinterest! I don't have time to read novels, do crossword puzzles, or quilt.

I can't even go to the bathroom for 30 seconds without someone slipping schoolwork under the door, someone sitting on the other side of the door asking me how to diagram sentences, or someone wanting something to eat...right now! All the world could be at peace, but the moment I close the bathroom door, World War III erupts.

On rare occasions, I've even cried, lost my patience, or doubted myself. I've had to stop in the middle of my frustration and ask the Lord for help.  And God is faithful...every single time... to pour out his abundant grace on me.  

Homeschooling is the toughest, most important job I've ever had. It requires sacrifice, money, time, and diligence.  It's also the most rewarding job I've ever had.  The benefits are vast, the fruits are sweet, and the opportunities to invest in our kids lives are un-matched by anything else we've ever done.

I wouldn't trade it for a thing.


  1. You are so right!!!
    I laugh when I hear myself say stuff like, "I'd be a great homeschooling mom if it weren't for these kids!
    What a blessing to have them AND to know that raising (schooling...) IS my job! It is exactly what I'm supposed to be about!
    Thanks for the fun reminder! Hope you have a great day!

  2. I can relate to everything you said! This year I have 5 school-age children, and four of them need a lot of my help (three are dyslexic). My time on the computer is early in the morning, after my devotions, before they get up and I have to go out and milk the cow.
    One thing I think of when I think of NOT homeschooling is that life would be boring! I honestly don't know what I'd do with my time if I didn't homeschool--probably would figure out ways to fill the time, but I do love having the days scheduled for me, and having to be organized. When we take time off, it's all too easy to become lazy and then I don't get much done anyway.

  3. Great post!!!

    Its kinda of funny, because I never really thought too much about how my mom felt about homeschooling. Kinda gives me a new light on how she may have felt some days!

  4. Yes, I'm sure there will be times I want to pull my hair out.... but I know I want to do this for my children, and with the Lords help I'll succeed. I will be relying heavily on Him!

    Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

  5. I love it! The honest made me crack up laughing! Because, I am so there with you!