Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it. – Benjamin Franklin
Once upon a time, I homeschooled my two children. I began when my daughter was a preschooler and finished when my son graduated from high school. It was a very good season of life. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world and I would wholeheartedly recommend homeschooling as a family lifestyle.
And yet… It was not all flowers and rainbows. I’ve walked through many trials as a homeschool mom. There were some frustrations and if I had to do it again, I would tell myself the following:
- Everyone has their own story and no two homeschool families are alike. Some families use online curriculums, others go to co-ops. Some are un-schoolers; others use traditional curriculums. Some go on lots of field trips and are involved in many activities; others are homebodies. And all of these families thrive because they are doing what’s right for them.
- Don’t second guess your abilities. If God calls you to homeschool, He equips you. I always wondered if I were doing enough. Should I add this subject? What about this extracurricular activity? Were my kids going to be well rounded? I was afraid that my kids wouldn’t measure up. And you know what, they did. Both of them are followers of Jesus, contributing members of society, and excel at what they do.
- Limit electronics. Under no circumstances should I allow electronics in the bedrooms and that includes cell phones. Limit TV and computer time, no matter how tired you are and how much your kids beg. And one more thing, no TV during the school week, except for special shows the family watches. I used TV as a reward when school was finished for the day and if I had to do it over again, playing outside or playing with toys would be the reward.
- Stay on top of things no matter how tired, busy, or stressed you are. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. No matter how worn out you are and no matter what buttons the kids press, BE BRAVE and stay connected. I went through a serious health crisis when my kids were 13 and 16, and I let things slide. And to this day, I regret it. I would tell myself to check their work daily, no matter what. I would tell myself to make the kids do their chores in a timely manner and to ignore their complaining.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. I used to get so stressed over the smallest things that in the scheme of life, were not important. When my daughter was around 6, her handwriting was horrendous. She wrote all over the place, was always in a hurry, and the letter formation was way off. We fought like cats and dogs over handwriting of all things and I thought I’d lose my mind. I finally got to the point, where I would be satisfied if she would JUST write on the line and she wouldn’t try. She would cry and carry on, and I would get frustrated and yell. I knew something had to change if I was going to continue homeschooling her. I prayed about it and came to the realization that handwriting wasn’t essential, but having a peaceful learning environment was. So I let her write however she wanted and we once again had a happy home. When she was around 8 years old, she expressed a desire to learn how to write in cursive. I told her that when she consistently printed on the line and it was legible and the letters were formed correctly, then I would teach her cursive. And at that point she began to take her time and print legibly and I taught her how to write in cursive. And I am happy to report that she now has legible handwriting.
- Don’t compare your children to others. Children are unique, not equal. They have different abilities and interests. Some children are intellectual and others are athletic. Some are shy and others are outgoing. Some children are strong willed and others are more passive. And therefore, children should never be compared because they will not live up to your expectations. Comparison is the thief of joy and when you compare your children with others, they will be hurt.
Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
What would you do differently? What advice would you give to others?