Thoughts on 32 Years of Homeschooling (So Far)

We began our 32nd year of homeschooling this week. Our twelfth seventh-grader will be studying The Middle Ages and our tenth senior will be doing concurrent college classes. The ninth-grader in between is excited about a co-op writing class. It’s probably a good thing that homeschooling this long wasn’t on the horizon when we began because I might have run screaming in the other direction. I will literally be retirement age when the last one graduates.

As a little girl I always wanted to be a teacher and a stay-at-home Mom, so I’m living my dream. Having twelve children wasn’t in the daydreams, but I don’t regret a single one (this photo includes one daughter-in-law, too):

Photo credit: Josh McCullock

Having homeschooled this long, graduating nine so far, my perspective has definitely changed.

Here are some thoughts at this stage of the journey. Most of them apply to non-homeschoolers, too:

  • Doing fewer things well is better than doing a lot of things halfway.
  • Simple routines work better than complicated ones.
  • Detailed lesson plans can be a setup for frustration. No lesson plans are definitely a setup for frustration.
  • Don’t plan on nine awesome months of school every year.
  • Character is more important than academics. But that’s not an excuse for neglecting academics.
  • Homeschooling can reveal character issues. Sometimes it even reveals the kids’ character issues.
  • Impressive academics are not worth broken relationships.
  • Facing school days with dread is a sad waste of a precious season of life. This is one of those times to take thoughts captive. How can you bring more joy, gratitude and FUN to your school days?

The very nature of homeschooling is that you’re working yourself out of a job:

  • We raise our children to be adults and we do them no favors when we do everything for them and don’t teach them life skills like doing laundry and cleaning a kitchen.
  • I promise your children will grow up. Your husband won’t, he is already an adult. Hopefully he’ll still be around when the kids leave. So make sure that you care more about your relationship with him than you do about curriculum and lesson plans.

And finally, you MUST take care of your self:

  • It’s kinder to your family to care for yourself than to sacrifice so much that you can’t be nice.
  • Your health is not an expense, it’s an investment. You want to be around to play with your grandchildren. It’s okay for you to have special foods and high-quality supplements. You’ve got to last over the long haul, Mama.
  • It’s not attractive to your daughters for you to be a martyr mom. Why would anyone want to grow up and be a mom if they think that it means dressing dowdy and never having fun?

I could probably go on all day but you’re probably trying to get kids ready for school in between throwing in a load of laundry. Maybe one of these little nuggets of experience will give you some perspective for YOUR upcoming school year.

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