The journey from homeschool to college graduation has been a true test of faith. Beginning the homeschooling journey twenty years ago when it wasn’t very popular made most of our extended family members quite skeptical, but now they’re super excited because they’ve been able to follow our journey.
My oldest son graduated as Marshal of his college class (an honor for highest grade point average and service to the institution), majoring in biology and chemistry, and has just received word that he is to be considered to receive a merit scholarship throughout Dental School at the University of Alabama Birmingham. He’ll be interviewing for that the 1st day of school! Fingers crossed, rather I’ll be praying!
Homeschooling is quite a scary business, especially when you have more than a few children. I have taken the kids’ education very seriously; while I don’t necessarily believe that homeschooling is for every family, I definitely felt the calling to homeschool my own kids. Do I feel qualified? Not really. Do I feel that I did all that was needed for an outstanding education? Not really. Was I confident that he would be successful?
Well, that depends on the definition of success. I felt confident that God had led us to homeschool and that He would see to it that His plan for Forrest would be accomplished, whatever that plan may be.
When Forrest entered his first semester in college, I’ll admit that I was on pins and needles not knowing what to expect. His first test in Calculus proved to be a disappointment for him and caused an upheaval of doubt and discouragement in my mind. I had never pressured the kids in academics and didn’t want to start now. Knowing that he could drop the class and retake it another semester , I encouraged him toward that end. He was appalled and insisted he would, and could, succeed in this class. He ended pulling out an A in that class and every subsequent class after that in his entire college career, except one B in Literature. (As a side note, when he had taken every math available, his words to Scott and me were “I’m so sad… there are no more math classes that I can take…” Who says that? Who could even think that?)
I will say that I take no credit for his college success. I was having babies, taking care of household situations, and helping my husband with his business as well as educating all of my school age kids to the best of my ability. There was only one of me for all these tasks and more. Throughout his education, I made sure to provide him with amazing books, curriculum, and resources, BUT he had to take the initiative to learn what was in those books. Amazingly, I have found that all my kids seek to learn when left with interesting resources and good conversations that promote thinking.
I’ve learned a few things through the past 20 years about homeschooling and am trying to put them into practice with my other “students.”
Top 10 things I’ve learned from 20 years of Homeschooling:
- Being a mom comes before being an educator. No one can take your place in the “mom” category. That’s hard for you driven types that want to see your children succeed. Character in your children is far more important than “book” education. If you drive the character into the children, the education will certainly follow. Relax and be a mom.
- Teach your children to serve the family and others. Moms, you can best do this by serving your husband with a happy heart.
- One new fact or idea every night spoken at the dinner table adds up to 365 facts a year. If you young moms can remember this one, it will carry you through a lot of days that you feel like you didn’t get anything done.
- If your child is just not getting a concept, put it away for a few weeks. It’s amazing how fast they can learn when they are ready to learn.
- Assign real work (age appropriate) to your kids. I’ve seen my kids gain confidence from ordinary tasks that contribute to the family’s well-being. I’m talking about daily chores, but also writing a blog post or researching and writing on a topic that relates to a problem and solution such as an autoimmune illness that affects one of your kids or what to do for a leaky basement. This is REAL education.
- Give your kids something to love, think about, and do. This is especially true for boys. I found that kids ages 12 – 15 (14 being the hardest) have a hard time transitioning from being a kid to an adult. I’ve really had to pray that God would give them a passion for something. God has been faithful in this.
- Keep up with Math, Reading, and Writing. Never let these slip; it’s very hard to catch up.
- Provide the best resources you can afford (books, tools, etc.) Not quantity, but quality. Sonlight Curriculum is a great resource.
- If you start getting discouraged on a particular day, put it up. Education should be a fun challenge, not something to dread. Learning should take place everyday and should be fun. Obviously it is hard work, but learning should always be a good thing.
- Remember that Life is Education. Learning should never stop just because the books are put away. Talk, talk, talk. Talk about Galileo when sitting on the porch looking at stars. Talk about how the different armies march while taking your afternoon walk. Talk about how that song on the radio is a retelling of a Shakespeare sonnet.
So many of you have so much wisdom to give. Please don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts in the comments; I’ve got a long way to go before my homeschooling journey ends. My youngest is only 6 and I can honestly say that I look forward to learning alongside her in the years to come!