Friday, February 6, 2009

The full time and a half job of a homeschooling mom

When contemplating the decision of whether or not to dive into homeschooling, a lot of people are overwhelmed with the thought of it. I have to admit that sometimes when I think about all that I do in a day, even I get overwhelmed.  Yes, I overwhelm myself.. if that's possible.  

So, it's best not to think about it too much.  Yes, running a home IS a full time job.  and Yes, homeschooling is a full time job.  People actually make a living teaching, you know.  (paychecks and everything)  

So, with that in mind, is it only the insane, feather-brained and naively optimistic type-A nerdlings that pursue this "vocation"??  On some days, I would answer an unequivocal "YES", but I wear the feather proudly, especially the feather-brained nerdling part.  On other days, I would say: it is possible for anyone to homeschool given the right set of tools.  Let's talk about those tools a little bit.

1. A desire/ call from God to homeschool.  This may seem obvious, but it's very important!  We wouldn't buy something as temporal as a car without a complete assurance that God was behind it; why would we bypass this when making choices for our childrens' education?  If God isn't calling you to do this, just stop worrying about it.  You don't need to feel any more guilty about not homeschooling than you do about not being in China as a missionary.  (unless of course you are supposed to be in China...)

2. Education, educational materials, and/or  tutoring help for homeschooling.  Even though there is much dissention about the amount of education someone needs to teach their own children at home, I think we would all agree that you need to know "something" in order to teach "something".  Often perception of "lack of education" can be more debilitating than the actual lack of information itself.  And the reverse is true also.  Perception that "anything goes" in the public school; therefore, "anything" will work for homeschooling is not profitable either.  

3. An accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses as a person/teacher  is probably more useful than the degree itself.  The more "challenged" you are in a particular area is not something to be embarrassed about and try to hide.  It just means you need to outsource a little more in that area.  Outsourcing can be in the form of a more structured curriculum, or a live class, DVD, tutoring or classes for homeschoolers at a co-op.  

4. Know your limitations. It is a strength, not a weakness, to know your own limitations.  Pride goes before a fall, and in this case, the children suffer also.  Some of you reading this who have a gaggle of little ones may need to hire outside help for babysitting or cleaning.  Remember, this is a time in your life where you aren't paying several hundred dollars on biology textbooks and paramecium.  You might need to budget the money for maid, though.  The kids DO grow up.  They will be able to clean well eventually.

5. Find support. I am sooooo blessed to live in Rockford, IL.  Everywhere I turn, there is a homeschooler!  When I teach pilates at the Y, there are even other homeschoolers getting exercise! This has not always been the case!  We've lived in North Dakota and parts of Wisconsin where homeschooling was not "cool".   Seek out others of like-mind and seek to be encouraging to others also.  It costs so little to give others a compliment about their children, and we all know how nice it is to hear one!

6. Be a human also.  It's easy to get entrenched in the whirlwind life of domestic bliss and school house excellence and forget to be a human.  My motto has always been: I'm in this for the long haul, so I'm not planning on burning out! 

The Bible says: come apart and rest awhile.   In the life of a homeschooling mom, "rest" takes on a different form.  What refreshes you? What encourages you? energizes you? What can you afford? What can your husband do to help you get it? Because I've been doing this for a while, "refreshing rest" has taken different forms at different stages.  When my kids were little, I just wanted to use my brain to do something productive.  I wanted to see something "finished" and not "undone".  I made things.  I took pottery classes.  I learned to weave baskets and other important things. For this stage of my life, my pilates teaching seems to "refresh" me. 

I hope this encourages some of you who are homeschoolers.  If you aren't, thanks for enduring another "homeschooling pep talk" from me.  I needed to voice these things after putting together a "rough draft" of a highschool transcript for my oldest child, who is so busy doing THIS that I never see him anymore. And IF he manages to get his SAT or ACT completed, he could be doing THIS this summer.  So, as you can see, life is sufficiently nuts around here.  I was going to tell you about the: standby testing for the ACT, boys Bible study, music lessons, workout at the Y, mini conference at our chapel, serving dinner to the poor at the Rescue mission and the Rockford Symphony that we have planned for tomorrow, but I thought better of it--since I knew you'd be overwhelmed.  


Scribbit said...

With a plan like this no wonder you find such fulfillment in it. I admire someone who can do it so successfully.

Krista said...

Crazy!! We just moved to TN last year from Machesney Park! We lived there 5 years. All this time, I've been looking at your blog, thinking, "I've seen her somewhere." But then thinking I was crazy because that couldn't be possible. But maybe it IS possible I've seen you around town somewhere... :) So maybe I'm not crazy!

Thanks for the homeschooling tips. I've been "like a wave tossed in the sea" about that one. Some days I want to, some I don't. Still praying about it!

Stephanie Kay said...

Thanks for the pep talk! I'm homeschooling my oldest in Kindergarten this year. I have 3 others (4, 2.5 years & 3 months) coming up. Overwhelming and exhausting is how I would describe my days right now but I remind myself this is a season and try to enjoy it. I confess some days I wish God hadn't called me to home school. :) But mostly I can't imagine life any other way!

Shanna said...

Timing is everything. I've been going back and forth about homeschooling - for seems like forever. I'm overwhelmed by what I think I have to do compared to what others "say" they are doing. Meaning, they are only telling of the "good" stuff/days to make it sound/seem so easy to do. I'm afraid that I'll fail my children... Whoa - that sounds like I need to take my own assurance from a previous comment I left for you. LOL

Anonymous said...

Great pep talk! Sane and balanced as always.

Anonymous said...

Well done! As I began teaching all six of my children, at different levels this year, I wasn't exactly sure how it was going to work out. I am happy to say that it has been a great year for all of us. The LORD is so faithful!