What 20 Years of Homeschooling Taught Me…

October 31, 2016 |

Oh, the things I would have done differently in homeschooling.

It’s been twenty years since I began my homeschooling journey with my children. My eldest son, then three, was my first “guinea pig.” I say “guinea pig” because I didn’t know much about home education so even though I‘d purchased about a hundred cassettes (some of you young’uns might not know what these are—count your blessings) on the subject, and spent about a thousand bucks at CHEA (Christian Homeschool Educators’ Association) on materials, this was my first attempt at something like this.

Since I was new at homeschooling, and the idea that my child’s future depended so much on me, I felt the weight of this responsibility heavily upon my shoulders.

My motto was (and to some extent still is,) “do my best, and God will do the rest.”

Except what is my best, really?

It was a sliding scale.homeschool-mom

Each time when morning was over and we finished the lessons for the day I never felt I had done my best. No matter what I tried, and no matter how hard my son concentrated on his classwork. I became more obsessed trying newer and better techniques—learn by doing, learn by reading, learn by listening, and any number of combinations thereof. I became a curriculum junkie, purchasing every curriculum I could get my hands on—mostly Christian ones, but some other texts with proven track records, like Calvert for instance. In all this my frustration mounted.

Why? Because no one method seemed right. Undaunted, I listened to even more studies on homeschooling, more advice, more anything.

And in all this I forgot two important things:

That I was homeschooling firstly, for the Lord, and secondly, for my son. I became so goal-oriented to make my son a genius that it was at the expense of my relationship with him. I pushed him more and more to raise the bar because of my own need to excel.

Frankly, I am all for excellence, even now, but I see how foolish I had been. Striving for excellence is always an admirable goal, but not at the expense of a longer term objective, which is to present Christ to my child as the gentle shepherd and the bright and morning star that aims to guide him in his life’s walk, and not as a slave driver with the whip and a glaring flashlight focused on smarting his inquisitive young eyes.

So in all this, was it a mistake to homeschool? Was it a lost cause?

I’d say no. My son has faults—as we all do. But he loves the Lord, in spite of my poor representation of Jesus on earth—for that’s what we parents all are, a representation of God to our children.

If I Could Go Back…

confessions of a homeschool momIf I were given another go at this, I’d gladly forfeit doing things the right way for doing the right things—which is to model God’s gentle character embodied in 1 Corinthians 13 to my son. I would be less of a zealot and more moderate in my expectations. Expectations of my son, and also of myself. Because that’s where I fell. I set a lofty standard and when I couldn’t achieve it my frustrations came out as forms of disappointments, and children have a knack of knowing when their parents are disappointed in them, and strangely they live up to this disappointment, sadly.

Thank God we live under Grace, because I can never take back my harsh words. Or my wrong “methods,” but the Lord can redeem our time. He can redeem our mistakes. He can help me learn from my poor judgment, and hopefully others can learn from them too.

I wish I can say that I have this thing called “parenting” or “homeschooling” down pat. But I don’t.

I still fall short, still flounder, and still go down rabbit holes.

But one thing I’d learned from my mistakes in homeschooling is that the Lord will make up for me, make up for lost time, and give me that which I do not deserve. And I know He has this for you, too.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:57,58

By the way, by God’s infinite Grace, my son has gone on to win many national debate tournaments and, having graduated from university, is now a successful executive in a thriving well-known corporation.

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  • Reply Stephanie October 31, 2016 at 8:04 am

    This is so great. I remember being there too 19 years ago homeschooling my oldest. I’m on the last lap with my 10th grader now homeschooling and I’m doin things differently. Yes that first one is the guinea pig. Lol. I think I stressed more than he did. But what an honor to homeschool my kids. I loved every minute. Great article.

  • Reply Merissa October 31, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Love this! My oldest is 3 so I came across this at just the right time. Thank you 😊💕 going to check out the rest of your blog now. 😬💕

  • Reply Heather Hart October 31, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Emma, I can so totally relate to you. I only homeschooled for a short period of time, but I still have boxes of curriculum I collected in storage. I just can’t bare to part with it. It’s sad, I know.
    Heather Hart recently posted…Oct 24, Candidly Christian

  • Reply Anne Hockenberry October 31, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I am a product of the “Homeschool Guinea Pig Generation” and I am so grateful for the way I was raised and for the opportunities I had through homeschool. What an amazing educational experience! There is not perfect way to homeschool (or to teach any school – I’ve taught in public and private schools) and no hard and fast rules, but that’s why it’s so good to remember that God is ultimately responsible for the hearts and souls of the children we teach.

  • Reply Jaime Hampton October 31, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Emma, I so needed to hear this today! i am homeschooling our oldest son, and I get so hung up on wanting to feel successful myself that I lose sight of the two people who should come before me – God, and my son. I’m hanging that verse up in the homeschool room 😊 thank you.
    Jaime Hampton recently posted…(Im)Perfect Harmony

    • Reply emma Right October 31, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      I’m so glad that my sharing is helpful to a fellow homeschool mom. I can’t begin to tell you all the things I would have done differently, but if I could boil it down to one thing–it is to show the love of Christ to my children. Because long after the educational experience is done with, the thing that sticks with the child is my relationship with each of them, the memories we built together, the laughter, the joy. Enjoy each moment you have with your son, because cliche as it sounds it really is true–they grow up too soon.

  • Reply Debbie Erickson October 31, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Emma, I must tell you that I’ve told my grown girls that they turned out to be great Christians in spite of me! I can relate when you said, “But he loves the Lord, in spite of my poor representation of Jesus on earth…” Great post!

  • Reply emma Right October 31, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    I don’t blog much about homeschooling but if anyone has questions please feel free to contact me.
    emma Right recently posted…Top free ways to increase traffic to your author website

  • Reply Kay November 1, 2016 at 9:27 am

    My mother homeschooled me from the start (heading to college now!) and it has been tough on both of us at times! Now, she is starting over with two young kids that we adopted. It’s a hard journey, but so great to be able to learn about God and the things that parents deem acceptable for their children, not what the public school system says!
    Kay recently posted…What Does It Take?

  • Reply Chelsea White November 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, homeschooling is something I’ve never had experience with but love to read about! Xx

    • Reply Heather Hart November 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      I can totally relate to that, Chelsea! I was addicted to reading about homeschooling for a couple of years. Then I tried it and decided it was better just to read about it. It’s not a good fit for my family no matter how much I love it.
      Heather Hart recently posted…Oct 24, Candidly Christian

    • Reply emma Right November 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Homeschooling isn’t for every family. Listen to the Holy Spirit–HE will guide each person accordingly. When I first started I was listening to Christians in the Homeschool community about how it is a must, a duty every parent must resort to. I was young and naive and was swayed. Now 20 years later and after reading much and seeing even more of what has happened in the Christian homeschool community, I see that this thinking is just legalism. The fact is our children must live in this world–even though we are not of this world.
      We, as parents, must equip them in every way–spiritually, yes, but also academically– so they will be ready to face the challenges living demands of them, so they can become the salt of the earth, so they can be used by our God. If they cannot stand on their own, become a dependent of the state, or even worse, reject Christ altogether because of our legalism, because of homeschooling, then this is not what the Lord would want.
      Sadly, I have seen so many young people so badly affected by the legalism in homeschooling. I know the parents of these young people must feel discouraged by this because they had listened to the “best” gurus, so to speak. Alas, many of these so-called Christian homeschool gurus have fallen. We need to always go back to the Bible, always go back to the fact that we live under Grace, and if the Lord shows us Grace, we must show Grace back to our children. Show them lovingkindness–what we have received freely from HIM we freely give back to our children.
      I.too, have been legalistic. That’s why i can say all this. Jesus came to set us free from bondage and homeschooling can be a bondage, too. We must be careful that we don’t make it one.
      I hope this helps someone–wish I’d known this 20 years ago!
      emma Right recently posted…Top free ways to increase traffic to your author website

  • Reply Andi November 1, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    as long as you’re doing it for God 🙂
    Andi recently posted…Soldiers In A Spiritual Battle – Are You Ready For It?

  • Reply Amy Hagerup November 1, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    I love this. Very truthful. I homeschooled a bit and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am a trained teacher so really love the curriculums too. I especially loved teaching my children how to read. And yes, I wanted to homeschool first for the Lord. Amen.
    Amy Hagerup recently posted…Why You Should Market Your Business by Branding Yourself Online

  • Reply Sherry Chamblee November 2, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for this! I’m currently homeschooling mine, and really needed to hear this.

  • Reply Tami Qualls November 2, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    I’m glad to have stumbled across this. I am a newbie home school momma and to hear this is quite helpful.

  • Reply Taria Shondell November 3, 2016 at 5:00 am

    First, kudos to you for raising your son with morals and values! And that is awesome that he took what you taught him & is successful!
    I struggle with making sure I display a gentle spirit with my children. But as parents we do it in love because we only want the best for them.
    Job well done Mom!

  • Reply Amy Jung November 4, 2016 at 8:46 am

    A million thanks for sharing your story…and being vulnerable to do so. I need this reminder every so often as I’m homeschooling my 7 and 10 year old. I know you’re right but sometimes I slip. I’m so thankful I still have some time to keep trying to get it right. I’m thankful for moms like you who have gone before me and can remind me!!! Blessings…and congrats on being able to see your son’s successes in adulthood! Linked up near you at Faith Filled Friday…
    Amy Jung recently posted…The Most Important Preparation for the Holidays

  • Reply Lori November 4, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Every homeschooling momma has their own story to tell. I had to learn to back off because my son is not going to be one of those homeschool genus kids we all hear about. I have little over a year and my journey will be over. I want him to remember the good times and not those times of me trying to force something that was not going to work. Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.
    Lori recently posted…When We Pray, Things Happen {Thankful Thursdays}

  • Reply Marielle November 6, 2016 at 12:53 am

    I love reading what people would have done differently…what a blessing to be able to learn from others’ experiences. Thank you for sharing yours. Every second of parenting is a choice of what to expect, how to react, what to say, how to spend time, and the list goes on. So many choices! I really appreciate how you brought those choices back to how can I “model God’s gentle character” for my kids? A beautiful frame of mind to work in.

  • Reply Shannon November 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    This is encouraging! We’re about to start homeschooling our oldest, so it’s good to hear insights like this.

  • Reply Meghan November 7, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    I was blessed by this article, thank you. I have 3 children whom I have been schooling at home for a few years and I still battle with whether I am doing the right thing for them, because I tend to focus on what we are not accomplishing and therefore always find myself not measuring up. These are lies from the enemy of course because it isn’t a measuring stick anyone is shoving in my face except that I choose to think that way. I have backed off from a lot of social media (time in bulk) and it has helped. I am currently writing about this, and how healthy boundaries can help our focus. God bless you!
    Meghan recently posted…People & Prose

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