Are you a homeschool mom? If so, let me just get this out in the open. i.have.judged.you. I didn’t want to EVER be one.of.you. 5 years ago I actually said, “over my dead body will I EVER homeschool”. I also said I would never get a dog!
My idea of a homeschool mom resembled something similar to the type of mom that would own a grain mill with a few added attributes: long denim skirt. No makeup. Nothing fashionable in their wardrobe. 6+ kids. Smiling and CALM all the time despite the chaos around them. House in order. Baking from scratch. Blissfully happy to have their children around them all.the.time. joyfully preparing lessons. enjoying learning alongside her children. did I mention the kids would all be socially awkward because they lived in a bubble in their home? Homeschoolers were weird. Why would you want to be at home all day…EVERY day with your kids? Seriously, ladies… I could not grasp this concept.
There I said it. That.is.what.i.thought.
People have their ideas of what homeschool is like and what those families look like. Take a peek at this version of homeschool Barbie™. I saw this online and saved a copy. Wish I could remember the source so I could give credit. And please do not take offense. I shared what I thought it was like and found it humorous to read this too. There are stereotypes attached to just about everything you can imagine!
As homeschooling has grown in popularity, there’s a Barbie™ to meet every need. The Protestant Christian version comes with a miniature Bible (the complete King James version!) and will recite Scripture verses when her hand is pressed. Catholic Homeschool Barbie™ wears a crucifix, chapel veil, and can lead your children in praying the Rosary (in your choice of Latin or English) when her hands are placed together. Secular Homeschool Barbie™ comes complete with a grain mill and Birkenstocks™, and shares her favorite home remedies & recipes with a pat on the back. All three dolls include a variety of Math curricula with manipulatives and chalkboards with tiny real chalk!
And what would a teacher be without students? Children for Homeschool Barbie™ are available in a variety packs of seven girls & boys ranging in age from four to ten, in your choice of matching or non-matching outfits. (Cloth-diapered infants & toddlers sold separately)
Additionally, you can purchase a Homeschool Barbie™ Dreamhouse™, with a whopping 12 rooms and without the nuisances of cable hookups or internet access. (Barn and livestock sold separately) For transportation, there’s the Big White Barbie™ Van, which seats up to 15 in comfort and safety. (Carseats not included)
Ok… back to my journey.
Now I am on my knees begging for your forgiveness for judging a decision and the type of person even capable of undertaking such a monumental task.
I am proud to say that I.have.become.one.of.you.and.you.are.all.awesome!
So, how did I get there? Well…. I literally did say “over my dead body” but thankfully that is NOT what it took… BUT it did take me being pretty sick. Around age 40 I was feeling just awful and all I could think was, “if this is what 40 feels like then take me out back and shoot me”. I got tired of the regular doctor telling me my tests were fine… just fine. Great, but why did I feel like I was a zombie all the time. Tired. Nauseous. Weight gain. Dizziness. Short term memory issues. i.was.not.fine. I finally ditched my doctor and headed to a Naturopath and went through extensive testing. I’ll spare all the details but one of the main things was that I had heavy metal toxicity. Yep… our environment is full of them, vaccines, dental fillings, etc. So I started on a journey called, Chelation which was a series of 40 IV treatments over the course of 6 months. Roughly 2-3x per week for 3-4 hours. Week after week after week. This is where I really got to experience God’s sense of humor. I NEVER sit down to do anything but eat or pay bills. I am always on the go. So apparently to get me to sit still and listen, God stuck me in a chair with a needle in my arm and a pole I would have to drag around if I wanted to get up.
I sat… a lot… I was a rockstar ahead in my bible study curriculum. I met amazing people battling debilitating conditions. I had time to listen to music. Read books I had wanted to read. And most of all…i.was.still and took time to listen. Now… I did NOT always like what He had to say and I can tell you I was BLINDSIDED at that gentle voice that said, “Mandy, it’s time to homeschool”. Over the weeks the message got louder and clearer and I chose to shove the earplugs in my ears deeper and deeper. But the thing is… you can’t block Him out.. darn it….
I had a lot of excuses why I couldn’t start just yet… really great reasons (#1 I did not want to. #2 I was not equipped. #3 I could not handle being around my kids that much… for goodness sake, they had been in full time school since age 3. # 4 I needed my space. #5 I am not a teacher and don’t care to be and #6 I did not want to…let me repeat that just to make it clear) so I was able to hold Him off another year or so but I could not shake it… the voice… the command…
Left to my own devices I was not.going.to.budge. well…neither was He. God has his ways. One of the first things that happened was that as I started to ask around (yes I had a few “cool friends” that homeschooled), I found out they had these things called Hybrid schools where the kids go 1-2 days per week and do all their learning/classwork WITH a teacher (you.have.my.attention.now) and the other days they have set assignments to do at home. What that translated to is that I did not have to come up with the curriculum or figure out what to do with them when they were home. The next thing that happened that sealed the deal is that our daughter had an opportunity to go to a boarding program for 1.5 years that we felt would be an amazing fit for her. And as you can imagine that came with a price tag that would not allow our boys to stay in private school while she was away. So here I was… down to 2 kids (temporarily) and so, God won…hands down. It was time to take the plunge. And so we did.
We are currently about to begin our 4th year…9th , 10th and 11th grade and happy as clams. While I greatly miss the administrative staff and relationships we formed in our time in the other schools, I do.not.miss the PTA, 6:30am alarm clocks, class parties, class mom duties, fundraisers, the awful carpool commute in Atlanta traffic, homework until all hours of the night, the cost of uniforms, learning environments that were not always conducive to learning, policies, paperwork and permission slips, packing lunches every day, etc.
Everyone is happier. More relaxed. Learning more than ever. Choosing teachers & curriculum suited to their level, learning style and ability. Choosing electives that they would never have access too. Taking work on the road. Developing self-discipline and time management skills by juggling a college-like schedule. We have more family time. More time for friends. More time for church activities. No midnight projects. We can do sports and extra-curricular activities during the day so that we can have family dinner every night. I have met the most amazing women & families with similar values. I have a huge support network through homeschool organizations. The list of pros far outweigh the cons.
Most of the homeschool parents I have met are involved in their child’s curriculum and helping them to manage their work load, they are doing some level of teaching at home, etc. and have a level of love for it and patience… that is not me. I mean I teach…we all teach… but the places I can contribute are in my craft studio,
teaching about essential oils, teaching how to cook, teaching them about personal finances, etc. I use the gifts I have where I can and the rest I outsource…without guilt. I don’t’ have to get excited about a history assignment or project (poke needles in my eyes)… I don’t have to understand their math because there are tutors. It does take a lot of time management on my part and A LOT of organization skills to keep the paperwork trail in order, attendance records, scheduling standardized testing, mapping out their high school plan to be sure they are meeting or exceeding graduation requirements for our state, I proof read, help plan workload when lazy teen syndrome kicks in or a certain week we need to shift what days/times we work, and of course actually doing all the course registrations, ordering textbooks, school supplies, etc. I’m not gonna lie, even that is a chunk of work but you DO get in to the groove.
My point here is that you don’t have to have a list of qualifications to homeschool because God will meet you right where you are at. He will draw on the skills you have or provide resources for those skills he has not given you.
Besides that… my house isn’t always in order, I only have 3 kids (not 6), I am not always happy to have my kids around (I’m being real here.. sometimes I need my space and sometimes I threaten to put them on the big yellow bus), my kids are very well socialized and can carry on conversations with adults with ease. They have many friends. They are very involved at church. We don’t stay in our house all the time. I don’t enjoy preparing the few lessons I have had to because it is not my gift. My kids are no more weird than any other kid (or me). I completely ‘check out’ if anyone even starts to talk about curriculum in depth with me. In fact when we first started I went to one of those big curriculum conventions and I about PASSED OUT it was so overwhelming and so out of my league. I learned what I needed to learn to be able to choose their teachers based on certain criteria and the curriculum they were using but that was as far as I took that. Through trial and error we have weeded out what subjects they each as INDIVIDUALS enjoy online as opposed to a live classroom. Kids are not one size fits all. I have learned more about my kids learning styles, challenges, strengths and preferences in these few short years of homeschool than I did in all the years they were in a private school.
As far as the other stuff I thought? I own a few long denim skirts and don’t always wear makeup. I bake from scratch. And I am letting my hair go grey!
I don’t have an issue with full time school. Our kids went from preschool to FT Montessori school to FT private school. They were always in school full time and it was full of amazing memories… but I just don’t miss it. They have experienced every type of school but public school. It’s not to say they won’t ever go to the public high school at the end of our street. It’s fine and dandy if that is what is best for them at any point or a necessary financial decision… But for this season of life, this is where God has us and I am so thankful that during these last few years I have my kids at home before they are college bound, that we have had this time together. It isn’t perfect. It’s a messy and blessed life.
I’d love to hear how you got started on your homeschool journey…
btw… I LOVE the planners from “Order Out of Chaos”. They are the most well thought out planners we’ve ever used. The creator was a frustrated mom who came up with a solution on her own! You can get them here.