Thursday, May 18, 2017

Be Encouraged, You Homeschooling Mothers ~

Adam and I are in the final throes of sending our fourth and youngest child off to college. We've had children in school non-stop since 1995 (I think) when Philip toddled off to a kindergarten class as a 4 year old at the boarding school where we worked. He walked over to his classroom across the grass from our house for a few hours each morning and walked back. Twenty-two years of education!

Some of those years our kids were in classrooms, and some they were schooled at home -- about half and half. And recently I'm more thankful than before for those years of homeschooling. They created a bond between me and my children. I do think we are closer than if I'd sent them off in a bus or dropped them at school. I'm sure there were failings (many of them) in our homeschooling, and disappointments for the kids. But recently several benefits of those homeschooling years have popped up, and I want to tell you about them.

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Anna, with her students when she taught in China.
Now she teaches elementary kids in Japan.
First, our daughter is a teacher. Sometimes I forget the truth of this: she chose education as a career partly because she grew up in a learning home. She saw us teach. At some point she thought a career in teaching was appealing. She saw all the rewards of teaching in our lives, and she saw all the ugliness too -- the mean, unreasonable administrators, the deceptive and lazy students, the insane, accusing parents. She saw us cry, sit up endless evenings grading papers, get fired, get thrown under the bus, get unfairly reprimanded, be praised and ridiculed by students. In spite of this, she chose teaching.

As Julia moves away, I like to note what her mind seems to have latched onto. She and Adam talk about math! (Can you imagine? Math?!) She likes math ideas, not "how to solve this equation" talk, but "Dad, what if we did this in math? She has a good math brain, in spite of the fact that we've struggled for years to teach her math. She won't study it in college; I don't expect that. But she enjoys using math thoughts to test her own brain. It's important that she just enjoy some subjects -- that learning be for the pleasure of it. She's branching out into various disciplines in interest, and I see her mind widening before she goes away, instead of narrowing. I hope our homeschooling contributed to this. I took to heart Susan Bauer's advice that each year and each subject was a "handshake" -- a handshake with an author or with an historical figure. It's better to go broad than go deep. They can study more deeply later.

Perhaps the best reminder of our success was at the wedding this past weekend. Peter asked me to read a poem, a sonnet that he'd written. He wrote it for Shani, and he'd worked on it quite hard. He's written a good bit of poetry. (My son! A poet!) I told him it was lovely and well-written. He read it to her at the reception before they cut the cake. It was a magical moment. I asked him about it. He said it's because we had so many books around the house, we were always reading. The books sank in. The sonnet studies I did with them sank it. Somehow, miraculously, a love of poetry reached into one child, and a love of math delved into another, and a love of teaching English consumed another.

I am enjoying this moment. Homeschooling produced many tears and regrets, many doubts about myself and my choices. It's nice at last to see we did something right in all those years.


  1. This is good for me to read, MK, as I am wearying of the homeschool journey: we began homeschooling our oldest for kindergarten in 1997 and--with one hiatus in 2000 where the oldest two went to a private Christian school--have continued the journey to the present-day. (Even then, the younger two were doing pre-K things at home.) Our youngest still has 6 years of homeschooling to go. If we had the funds to send him to a private school, I would--despite the benefits that you laid out above. But, we don't, so it is encouraging to me to be reminded that, even when homeschooling is not your first choice, it is still a good choice.

  2. That is an absolutely wonderful set of testaments to you as parents and what you have done for your children! I am quite sure they will continue to go far because of the wonderful nurturing environment you have given them!x

  3. I'm back re-reading this post- because it gives me such hope, and I'm not even home-schooling. Mind you, it feels a whole lot like home-schooling as we plunge into exam week, but poor them. School at school, then school at home. Sigh!


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