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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {What a teacher wants you to know} #homeschool

Written by Jessica.

It’s January, and many of us are in the heart of mid-winter: cold weather, short dark days, cabin fever from being cooped up inside. As an unapologetic homebody, I happen to love the way winter calls for cozy, quieter living with my family. I like the restart and the self-reflection that comes with January, too. But there’s no question that mid-winter is a tough time of year for educators of all sorts. If you’re a homeschool mom who never truly steps away from juggling your parent and teacher roles, that can be even truer.

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When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {What a teacher wants you to know} #homeschool


For in mid-winter, the school year is about halfway over. That benchmark can fill some with feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, or dread. There’s the whole second other half of the school year to get through! How am I going to do this?

Others may be filled with discouragement or even panic. This school year isn’t going the way I thought it would. How can I reset and make up for lost time with only half a school year left?

Mid-winter is the time of year when our fear can be bigger than our faith. The things that aren’t working, the life circumstances that are less than ideal, our insecurities about what we’re doing – all of these things can grow larger in our minds than they should. This is the first in a two-part series that will look at some of the worries that homeschooling parents have next to the realities of traditional school.

If you are tempted to throw in the towel and think that big yellow school bus going down the road looks like an appealing option right now, I want to gently pushback against your doubts:

“I’m not qualified to teach my kids. They’d be better off with a professional teacher.”

I have a Master’s in elementary education and many years of classroom teaching under my belt. I’m not going to lie and say that isn’t helpful as a homeschooler. It is. It’s helpful to know the lingo. It’s helpful to have varied experiences to draw from. It’s helpful to have my degree as a fallback (because nothing shuts-up a naysayer like, “I have a Master’s in teaching and used to teach in the classroom. So my kids and I are all good – thanks.”)

The truth, though, is that my degree is not what makes me a good teacher for my own kids. I’m a good teacher for my kids because I love and know them better than anyone else
...because I’m passionate about home education and am committed to giving them the best
...because I’m willing to keep researching and keep learning myself so that I can meet their educational needs
...because I’m willing to and choose to work hard
...because I know my limits and realize that for some subjects and interests, they’ll occasionally need to learn from others who have more expertise than me.
And in your homeschool, you are bringing similar gifts to your own children.

I worked in the same school for five years. I worked with a lot of amazing and hard-working teachers that could inspire anyone. I also worked with many mediocre ones. I worked with still more that I wouldn’t want near my own kids with a ten-foot pole because they weren’t good or decent people in real life. Four or five years of college, teacher-training, and passing exams aren’t what makes a good teacher; that’s just how you earn a degree. If you believe in the merits of homeschooling, want to give your children an excellent education, and are willing to work very hard, you can teach your own children--no degree required.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {What a teacher wants you to know} #homeschool

“My kids are spending too much time waiting. I can’t meet everyone’s needs because of ______ (the multiple ages…the new baby…so-and-so’s special needs…the big age span of my kids…the number of children we have).”

Homeschooling my three kids at times feels equally, if not more, challenging than teaching an entire classroom of kids. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. So I fully understand the worry that comes from seeing your kids having to wait for their one-on-one learning time. But here’s the reality: there is no perfect educational model, and kids are going to have to wait no matter where they learn.

My kids could wait riding to and from school, for school to begin, and for the afternoon buses to arrive. They could wait during attendance and lunch count. They could wait while the teacher deals with behavioral problems, assists with illness or medical emergencies, breaks up fights, resolves disagreements, or comforts crying or upset students. They could wait while the teacher gathers schoolwork for the classmate who’s going home sick or helps a student find their misplaced materials or catches up a student who’s returned from an absence. They could wait during fire drills and school assemblies and fundraising drives. They could wait while the teacher does on-the-spot conferences with parents in the hallway or answers colleagues’ pop-in questions in the doorway. They could wait for their turn to give an answer, to have their question answered, to have their work checked, or to have a few minutes of one-on-one time with the teacher. Yes, that is one way to do waiting.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {What a teacher wants you to know} #homeschool

Or, they could wait at home. Here, I combine some subjects and make accommodations as needed, but my children do handwriting, math, reading, spelling, grammar, writing, and journaling all at their own grade level. And when it’s not their turn to work with me, they do have to wait. Ideas like this can help, but often my kids just play together or pursue their own interests. This used to unnerve me.

Now that I have homeschooled longer than I taught in the classroom, I can finally say that I have unlearned how to do school. That is not the only way to learn. There is merit in a twenty-minute or less lesson targeted directly to the child’s needs and abilities rather than a forty-minute lesson to a whole group. There is merit in free play, white space, an excess of play-time, and time to pursue individual interests at leisure during childhood. Your kids are going to have to wait no matter where they learn. Let it be the best kind of waiting that you can choose for them.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {What a teacher wants you to know} #homeschool

“Our family is going through a hard time because of _____. Maybe the kids would be better off at school.”

2018 was not our family’s finest year. It was filled with unrealized hopes, unforeseen events, challenges, loss, and sadness. Perhaps you are going through something much more difficult, or maybe you’re experiencing a happy event that is still life-altering.

In the relatively short five years that I taught at one school, my colleagues (and sometimes I) experienced all of the following: spouse’s job loss, moving, home emergencies, conflict with family members, serious financial problems, infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, birth of new child, juggling work and family with taking classes, infidelity, marriage difficulties, divorce, death of a close family member, long-term illness/care of a close family member, terminal illness and death of child, suicide of adult child, life-altering illness of spouse, cancer or other long-term treatment for self or a close family member, sudden death of spouse, car and other accidents, and surgeries. Almost all of these things resulted in repeated time away from work or a long-term leaves of absence. 

I share this to remind you that teachers in traditional schools are not exempt from life’s challenges, hardships, or tragedies just because they are teachers. They are ordinary people who, at times, have serious problems or significant life events going on in their personal lives, and the effects of those things going on can spill over into a classroom in many ways.

When You Feel Like Sending Them to "Real" School {What a teacher wants you to know} #homeschool

For some families, taking a break from homeschooling may, in fact, be exactly what a family needs to get through a very difficult time. In other cases, keeping the children home and in the routine that they’ve always known is best for them. During a season of loss this past year, my husband and I were repeatedly grateful for the opportunities that homeschooling gave our family to be together, to nurture, and to walk through a painful time privately and unhurriedly. Life’s trials while homeschooling can sometimes be an opportunity to impart lessons and values and to draw closer as a family.

It is the heart of mid-winter--a challenging time of year to homeschool through. If you feel discouraged and want to throw in the towel, remember that the grass really isn’t always greener. Keep pressing on, have confidence in what you’re doing, and let your faith be bigger than your fears.

________________

If you are drenched in doubt and filled with fear, be sure to check out my new book, Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child With Confidence. It will help point you to the courage that you need to finish strong and give you the tools to do it well. 




28 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, thank you SO much for writing this. I really needed this encouragement this morning! Sunshine

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  2. Thank you. Well done and said. May you find 2019 to be easier, brighter, safe and healthy. <3

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    1. Thank you! And thank you for your uplifting words, too! <3

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  3. I so needed this! My husband and I were just discussing possibly putting the boys in our local public school. Sometimes I feel like they just aren't learning enough. They are currently enrolled in CC, but I can't help but wonder if it's the right fit for them. They learn so very different from one another, and finding the right fit for each one is challenging. Thank you for your encouragement!

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    1. I prefer a really eclectic approach (so I can pick and choose for each subject and each child) and would find CC too restricting, but I have met some moms who really love it. I hope you find the "just right" fit for for each of your boys - that's definitely a challenge, but can also be a benefit, of homeschooling. I'm glad that this encouraged you!

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    2. Perhaps the curriculum or the source of the homeschooling could be reevaluated then instead of placing them back in school. :)

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  4. I wish I would have opened my email earlier today because I needed this. Today was that day where I felt like a complete failure and that my kids would definitely be better off in public school and I cried most of the day and talked with my husband and that talk went way further than I was expecting. Just knowing that I am not alone with these feelings takes a huge amount of weight off my shoulders and gives me some confidence back and gives me a boost to finish out the rest of the year successfully hopefully. Thank you so much for this article.

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  5. Kelly, you're definitely not alone. Homeschooling is really hard sometimes, and lots of moms feel this way. Give yourself grace. Maybe you and the kids can take a "fun day" sometime soon where you just read aloud, bake, make a craft, go for a walk, watch a video, or do light things so you can regroup, have a breather, and connect in a fun, nonacademic way. I'm glad this encouraged you. Prayers for you today! You can this, mama!

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  6. This was a wonderful article to read this time of year - or any time of year!! Thank you so much for reminder. I'm going to share this on our local homeschool group Facebook page. :)

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    1. You're welcome! And thank you so much for sharing this, too! :)

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  7. Thank you for this!!! What a wonderful thing to realize! Thank you for helping us!!

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  8. Very well said! Thank you for the encouragement!
    God Bless you.

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    1. Thank you so much, Nina! I'm glad it was encouraging!

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  9. Thank you! Our family had a really rough end to 2018 and you voiced so many of my fears in your article. Thank you for speaking truth and perspective into my gloomy thoughts!

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    1. You're welcome, Beth! You're not alone in feeling that way. I hope that 2019 is off to a better start for you and your family. <3

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  10. Homeschool mom goal: best kind of waiting!
    Thank you for your encouraging words and sweet reminders.

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    1. I love that, Erin! Thank you! So glad it was encouraging.

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  11. Thank you, I am so close this year!! Trying to still on tract and sharp for my girls but it is hard at times.

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    1. It is definitely a challenging time of year for many. Hang in there, mama - you can do it!

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    1. Thanks, Kristy! Blessings to you and yours as well!

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  13. Wow! I just screenshotted portions of this as reminders and affirmations. I'm not quite in the full throws of homeschooling, but I've gotten the ball rolling with Prek3 for my oldest. This was such a confidence booster. Thank you ��������

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  14. Thank you for this. I found you through our local homeschool group. Do you see that little girl, crying on the carpet. That was my children's mama almost every January; for many years of homeschool. Filled with anxiety, tiredness, and striving for perfection. So incredibly insecure! Now, we're on the last part of the journey and I'm doing so much better. What a waste of years fretting. I can't go back and change but I know that our dear children are glad that I home schooled them.

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    1. What an awesome testimony of homeschooling! Thank you for your candidness. Hindsight is always 20/20. It sounds like you've seen some good fruit.

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  15. This was SO good and I will be sending it to a friend who really needs the encouragement right now. Also, I'm interested in the "White Space" article, but it wasn't the correct link when I clicked on it. Thank you!
    Melanie Sunukjian
    Director Compassionate Entrepreneur for Trades of Hope www.mytradesofhope.com/melaniesunukjian

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    1. Sorry about that broken link, Melanie. I've got that fixed now.

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