I’m what you might call an accidental homeschooler. I have met so many moms over the years who knew, practically from the time their first child was born, that they were going to homeschool. I’m not one of them. I fell into homeschooling very unexpectedly, and like many, I thought I knew what I was taking on. Much to my surprise, homeschooling is not what I expected.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I regret one moment of homeschooling, or that I wouldn’t heartily recommend it. Quite the opposite, in fact! However, I was really quite shocked to find out that homeschooling was not even close to what I thought it would be.
It’s actually a million times better.
It has its challenges, and it has tested me in many ways over the years. But honestly, it’s the best thing I ever could have done, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My Introduction to Homeschooling
Like I said, I stumbled upon homeschooling pretty unexpectedly. I’m a teacher’s kid, and I grew up volunteering and tutoring in my parents’ classrooms. Do you remember all those fun stations and activities in your elementary classes?
I spent the summer making them. I watched and learned while my parents made their lesson plans, graded their students’ work, and filed all of their required paperwork. That’s what I thought school was.
You can read more about our journey with homeschooling here. We had our ups and downs, but 14 years later, I don’t regret a moment of it. There are several things I did not expect though!
Unexpected Freedom and Discovery
Like many first-time homeschool families, I chose the curriculum that I was most comfortable with. For me, this was textbooks and workbooks along with a strict hour-by-hour schedule. We kept using texts from this company through graduation, as they fit his needs well; however, I learned to switch things up a bit.
Once I got past the insecurity of being a first-year homeschool mom, I learned to add in lots of great learning tools. Unit studies, amazing literature, projects, and field trips rounded out our day nicely. Within a few years, I even let my son start choosing his courses and curriculum resources. It worked out amazingly well.
I can remember reading through a book of homeschool ideas one night and just thinking…why didn’t I know about any of these things before? Why didn’t I know that literature could be used for learning outside of assigned reading time, or that projects weren’t just for special subject fairs?
I’m a teacher’s kid, and my parents are fantastic teachers. Why hadn’t things like great literature, hands-on projects, and read-alouds been part of my education?
Please know that I’m not saying this to disparage teachers in any way…I strongly support them and know how hard their job is. It’s really more that with all of the challenges and restrictions that come with classroom teaching, something has to give.
Often, what “gives” is the teaching tools that became a foundational part of my son’s learning. Having the freedom to add those back in – and to experience them with him – is something I’m thankful for.
Strong Family Relationships
“How do you have the patience to homeschool? I’d never make it through being home with my kids all day.”
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that…well, I’d be a rich woman.
The truth is, I absolutely love the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to stay at home with my son, to be with him every day and watch him grow. I am so amazed at every stage he’s been through, and I can’t imagine not being there for the “aha” moments along the way.
For years, I thought I was a pretty involved mom. I was active in children’s ministry in our church and I often stayed a few minutes late when picking him up from school to talk with his teachers and meet his friends.
It was a priority that I be involved in everything I could; however, there were only so many hours in the day, and I worked full time. I’m thankful for the teachers who poured into his life, but I had no idea how much I was missing.
I can honestly say that I got to know my son better in the first six months of homeschooling than I had in the previous six years. Our relationship grew, and it went deep. It didn’t falter during the preteen and teen years, and my husband and I were able to be present for pretty much everything in his life.
Even today, as a senior in college, our relationship and communication remains strong, and I truly wouldn’t change that for anything. Without the unexpected benefits of homeschooling though, I really don’t think that would be the case.
Watching My Child Thrive
Because of the unexpected blessings that came from the freedom and discovery of homeschooling, as well as from our strong relationship, I’ve been able to watch my son thrive in so many ways. He’s been through several major challenges, but he’s also grown and achieved things I never would have imagined.
I’ve watched him fight through tough situations and grow from them, and I’ve seen him give of himself consistently to serve others. He’s gotten the chance to travel around the country and to other continents, both to study and to serve in missions, and he’s active in ministry on a regular basis. He’s learning how to start his own business (both what to do and what not to do), and he’s doing well in his college studies.
I don’t say that to brag on him (though he’s certainly got a head start on where I was at his age). I say that because watching him thrive through a variety of situations is an amazing, yet unexpected, benefit of homeschooling.
Without the foundation that homeschooling gave him, I really don’t know that he would be taking these things on today. I’m glad he is though, and it’s so fun to watch him grow, serve, and thrive!
Because every homeschool is different and every family has different needs, I’ve created a planner to help you plan, tweak, and track your homeschool plans. The great thing is, your older children can also use it!
With over 100 pages of planning, tracking, and goal-setting pages, you will find the right combination of pages to make the perfect homeschool planner. This planner normally retails for $12.99, but for one week only, it’s free! Be sure to download it today!
Jennifer Duncan is the owner and founder of A Helping Hand Homeschool, where she offers support and creative resources for families who homeschool “out of the box” learners. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
Join in on the fun of our Homeschooling is… series. Over 30 families share with you what homeschooling is for them and their families. We will have giveaways, freebies – tons of freebies, support, encouragement, and community!