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What I wish I knew when I started homeschooling

I am homeschooling my kids because the current schooling system falls way short of my expectations. All of my kids just love the experience they are having daily. But it wasn’t as smooth. Initially, I started homeschooling with the agreement to try it for a year, and with the knowledge, I would be signing them up for school by the first day of the first grade.

That first year was a disaster. Initially, I had very definite views on what education looked like, what my teaching should look like, and what their learning should look like. I tried to turn my home into a school. There was one point where I even wanted a bell to ring.

Ironically, that teaching certificate that soothed the concerns of well-meaning strangers who worried about my qualifications was my greatest hindrance to finding the joy of learning in our home. And my children and I did battle every day, it seemed. It was an exhausting year, full of challenges as I struggled against their behavior and my expectations. I was failing and the house was miserable too.

Somehow, though, I didn’t quit. Why, when everything seemed to be going wrong, did I decide to stick it out another year? Despite my struggles, I saw a kernel of something, a seed of an idea that was just beginning to germinate.

Instead of unmet expectations, I began to see the unrealized potential.

If you think about it, there isn’t much difference between the two. It is all about the subtle shift in perspective from where we are failing to where we can grow.  That kept me going long enough to capture a vision for our homeschool and begin to truly work to nurture the hearts and minds of my children.

Even then, however, not everything went smoothly all the time. I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and insecurities that threatened to wash our joy into a sea of doubt.

There is one thing that would have helped. One thing that could have quelled the insecurity and the fear. One thing.

I wish I knew the end from the beginning

We see as through a glass dimly. The end isn’t in sight until we are almost to it. And all along the way, we fret over each perceived failure, each missed opportunity, each plan that never quite came to fruition. And some days, we are sure that it is these things which will bar our children from their futures.

That knowledge would have put to rest my insecurities and my fears and allowed me more time for joy. Unfortunately, there is no way for your future self to come back and tell your current self how this whole thing is going to turn out. But there is another kernel of wisdom that would have helped.

I wish I had realized sooner that worrying wasn’t helping.

It never helped anywhere in my journey!

And who of us by worry can secure the outcome of our teaching? It robs you of your joy and doesn’t leave you with any improvement plans. I don’t think it even motivates you all that much to seek solutions. Worry tends to focus your attention on your weaknesses of the moment rather than on developing plans of action. It leaves you in that place of unmet expectations rather than letting you look forward to the unrealized potential.

When worry drives you to action, it usually causes you to do the same things that aren’t working more consistently and more diligently.

I wish I realized sooner that joy was as important as academics.

Kids don’t have to like everything. It’s OK if they’d prefer to play Legos to study history and board games to do the math. It’s even OK for them to despise some things. But joy isn’t just about how we are feeling right now.

We can see the end from the beginning. But not the end I was talking about before. Even that end is fleeting and insecure. The ultimate end goal is to produce a full-fledged human being who can take control of his/her life without getting influenced by the world around them too much. It is easy to get sidetracked by the distractions of this world and the challenges each new day brings.

Because we do know the end from the beginning.

And it is joy and love and patience that will do the most to invite our children to join us on this path. Joy and love and patience, not insecurity and worry and stress.

I wish I had pursued everything intentionally!