The Homeschool Mom: on assumptions and following suit


Isn’t it always a matter of the heart, who we’re trying to please, whose best we really have in mind?

It’s true that if I decided not to homeschool, there would be a few, outspoken tisks poured over me – definitely more than a hint of disapproval at my obvious choice to throw my children to the wolves.

But, when I decided to homeschool, countless noses grew long, eyes looked down:

as long as you only do it this year …

I’m just not a supermom like you …

we just don’t want your kids to be weird …

well, we want our children to go bravely into the world …

you’re an English teacher, not a teacher of math, science …

It’s the assumptions that hurt, that anyone knows my motive or plan and that some expect that since I’m a homeschooler, I’m a judger of other parents’ decisions. Maybe some are just trying to beat me to an anticipated punch. I’m not going at this all willy-nilly, and I’ve got no flags to wave.

What Seth and I are trying to do is NOT make assumptions. If everyone is eating chicken McNuggets, we try to say, but what’s in that stuff? If everyone is into vaccinations, adoption, TOMS shoes, Diet Coke, and public schools, it’s more our personality to just ask WHY before we follow suit. Every school year is another year to ask why. What is best for our family?

Every child brings different needs to the table. At the beginning of next semester, I’ll birth my 4th child. Imagine loading two littles and a newborn both morning and afternoon 5 days a week after experiencing a year of slow transition from breakfast to school at my own table. It’s not easy, but I’ve had the reward of teaching my son.

Other things come into play, too. At this point, I never want to stop homeschooling our children, but I have one who has shown some extra sensory needs, one completely co-dependent on his big brother. Do I send big brother to school next year so I can be one-on-one with the other and also take some newborn time? Right now, I just don’t know.

Every family is different, and so is every child, and so is every school district. Thank goodness that God’s plan for our lives is not a one-size fits all. To write about it has been difficult. Too many times I’ve followed suit, without second-guessing or establishing a solid reason, so I’m learning to stop and ask myself some questions when tempted to do what everyone else is doing.

I thought I would enjoy writing about this much more than I did, and as much as I would like to write a post reveling in everything I love about homeschooling, I’m finished with writing about it for now. FWEW!
amberhaines
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27 Comments

abbyleigh
Reply February 16, 2011

i'm not in a place to decide about homeschooling now . . . but i can relate to this:

"Too many times I’ve followed suit, without second-guessing or establishing a solid reason, so I’m learning to stop and ask myself some questions when tempted to do what everyone else is doing."

i consider myself a thinker but then find myself easily convinced by any old argument. i have trouble discerning what i really think about the matter at hand, and am working to recognize this lemming-ness in myself. i admire your question-before-following-suitness. wisdom is tough stuff.

    Amber
    Reply February 16, 2011

    @Ashleigh - thank you for encouraging me, always.

    @Abby - Ha! Wisdom IS tough stuff, and for me, nothing has been a better teacher than the good rear-kickings I've had from being a follower. There's One I try to follow, and then a few He put in authority over me. Besides that, I seem to get into trouble.

Ashleigh Baker (Heart and Home)
Reply February 16, 2011

So, so thankful we're given discernment and freedom to walk with Jesus with our children and school them the way He guides. Beautiful, Amber.

{says the homeschool graduate who put her littles in preschool this year and says she doesn't know what the coming years will hold. Ignoring the tsks on both sides and looking at Jesus' lead...}

Ruthanne
Reply February 16, 2011

I've been homeschooling for twelve years now.

It's kinda of a love/hate thing for me. I go for days where I can't imagine doing anything else. Sending my children off to either public or private school strikes terror in my heart. My heart grows when I see them finally grasp a concept we've been laboring on for a month. The thought of missing that makes me want to curl into a ball and weep. I love curling up on the couch with all the children piled around me and reading book after book after book. I love the days when I can watch them play like the best of friends in all the world.

And yet.

Yet there are days when I can't get far enough away from them. Days when the attitudes that are flowing around our school room conjure up images of the local dump. Days when I can't teach the same thing one. more. time. or I will likely lose my mind. Days when as soon as my man walks in the door I grab a bottle of wine {or chocolate} and go hide in my closet. Days when my creativity and motivation feel like they've been stolen away and I'm just an empty shell.

Sometimes it's grand. Sometimes it's not.

The choice to homeschool is a yearly evaluation - weighing all the pros and cons.

Apparently, the pros have won out for the past twelve years. ::snort::

P.S. Was this a depressing comment? Ugh. So sorry. I just kind of vomited that out.

    Amber
    Reply February 16, 2011

    Ruthanne! You said it EXACTLY how I feel it. Thank you.

    I felt the same way about writing my posts, like I didn't want to be all negative, but sometimes I feel like a steam kettle about to blow. THe positives way overshadow the negatives.

    There are days that I really really really want to be doing what every one else is doing, too. That's just the truth. So it's a battle for me, but one that has grown us all more than anything else.

Amy
Reply February 16, 2011

We're in our ninth year of home education. I'm in the 70s as far as number of blog posts. I shocked myself last week when I consciously mentioned how I educate my daughters for the first time on the blog. I would have expected, with the time and energy I give it, that I might have talked about it before then. But, our education permeates our whole life, and our whole life is much bigger than how we officially learn.

When my eldest was starting out, it felt HUGE and I went through a mourning of sorts over the transition of our life. I'd see friends who had been a weekly part of our lives during the preschool years, and miss seeing them. While it still influences our life greatly, relationships have evolved and feel healthy. Whatever direction we had taken, life was going to include dramatic change.

Now we've just kept deciding to learn at home year after year by God's lead and call. I have dear friends following God's lead and call with kids in public and private schools. While I need the support of people in my similar situation many times, I have close friends in every part of the educational realm. Truly, no condemnation.

When I stayed home full time as a new mom, a relative judged me for this thinking daycare was a better option. This shocked and hurt me. But, it gave me an appreciation for the judgment working mothers could feel. I'm glad for what I learned from this critical relative. My husband and I make our decisions before God, not for the approval of others. My desire is to personally obey and give others the same freedom in true love.

Blessings to you and your family whatever path God takes you down.

Nish
Reply February 16, 2011

The WHY.

May we never stop asking Why, may we always check our motivations, may we always follow Jesus, and not the crowd. Whether it's TOMS shoes or home-educating our kids. You nailed it. And may we all SUPPORT each other as we dare to live out this crazy life in faithful ways - even if we all look differently.

I admire you deeply, my friend.

    Amber
    Reply February 16, 2011

    @Amy - I think you're right in expressing a stage of mourning. Maybe that's what this is. I recognize so much beauty, but there is still mourning. Thank you for this comment.

    @Nish - You always make me feel like a real person.

      Amber
      Reply February 16, 2011

      My blog is randomly picking comments to call "pending," and then I can't un-pend them.

      Here's one from Nish:

      The WHY.

      May we never stop asking Why, may we always check our motivations, may we always follow Jesus, and not the crowd. Whether it’s TOMS shoes or home-educating our kids. You nailed it. And may we all SUPPORT each other as we dare to live out this crazy life in faithful ways – even if we all look differently.

      I admire you deeply, my friend.

Lydia
Reply February 16, 2011

I'm in a similar place - we will have a newborn #5. Upon hearing of this pregnancy, my knee jerk was "everyone goes to school next year!" but of course more thought goes into such things. I like how you said you try not to make assumptions, but do your own research and make your own decisions each step of the way. That is very much how we do things as well. What's best for this family, this child, at this moment in time. Excellent post.

Susan
Reply February 16, 2011

Dear Amber (what a lovely name!), I hope you don't mind if I jump in on this discussion; I only found your blog a few minutes ago. I was a class room teacher in a Christian School, and I home-schooled my two beautiful girls, put them in Christian School, and sent them to public school - not necessarily in that order, at the same times, at the same ages, or even for the same reasons. I, too, was shocked that others had such strong opinions about what my husband and I were doing and that they felt free to edit! My goodness. I just shook my head in disbelief. The Lord led, and I followed. He knew what was best for my girls and what they needed each step of the way, and He is much more invested in the two of them than anyone else, including me, could ever be. So I'd like to say one thing to you, "You go, girl."

Jane
Reply February 16, 2011

We went through this process last year when I homeschooled my son. As the year went on, it was more and more obvious that my kid NEEDED school. He is extremely extroverted and high energy and thrives on schedules. I couldn't keep him busy enough and fill his social tank, not to mention that I am terrible with schedules. We were both so anxious and stressed by Christmas. We sent him to a local Christian school this year and we are both thriving. We had to wade through assumptions (ours and others) both when we homeschooled and when we stopped. I finally convinced myself that I didn't need to justify my decision when I talked to people, it has helped me to trust on Jesus for my identity (the only assumption I need).
I wouldn't trade the experience for the world though. I learned so much about myself, my son, our family and the God that keeps us all.
Thanks for sharing your journey.

Tammy@if meadows speak
Reply February 16, 2011

We've been from private school, to public school to now two years homeschooling. Thank goodness for a local homeschool group where I can connect with grownups and find my way out from under teacher mode. And yet, Ruthanne, you summed it up. How our days flop between mountaintop highs to slimy pits. I also have a home fellowship who are mostly homeschooling (in the NOT-a-cult-kinda-way) and I sometimes text them in in the middle of a day, to reach out to another fellow sojourner. Just knowing they're a keypad away, makes me not feel so funneled in my homeschooling/teaching box. Amber, you remind me of how little I share (ups and downs) in this journey. Perhaps I'm mentally exhausted from school and want to write anything else?

Kelly Sauer
Reply February 16, 2011

There are some who homeschool to make the point that homeschooling is good, and some who just homeschool and don't make a huge deal out of it, because it's just part of life. I see you and Seth as the latter some. I love that you wrote about it, because it's on your heart, but if you turned this blog into a homeschool mommy blog, well... Sigh. ;-)

We none of us know what tomorrow will bring, and all we have any moment is this moment. Live the one you've got. The decisions will be plain enough when the time comes.

Oh, and rest today. That seems important.

Love you.

sara @ it's good to be queen
Reply February 16, 2011

wow....this is some good stuff.
we are a year by year family as well. i'm not the kind of girl who can make a 12 year plan anyway. i believe Jesus has a plan for each family and i so want everyone to seek His plan for them and be fine with that being different for us.
i've definitely had those longing moments over the last 3 years. longing to have some more independence and time to myself and time to get things done. but still i can't trade that for the hours i get to spend with my sweet boys.
it's not an easy choice, that's for sure...and mine go to school 2 days a week. and i still struggle with contentment...sigh...

Amber2
Reply February 16, 2011

Good writing, Amber. This glimpse in your life has a bigger application in not being quick to judge other women in their decisions. God gave us such diversity in plants, animals, colors, and even Old Testament characters. Let's support the positive in each others lives - quick to listen, and slow to give advice.

Sarah
Reply February 16, 2011

I even find when I am making a hard decision that it's really easy to assume what others are going to assume, even before I've told them about the decision(and consequently get defensive even when it's not necessary). So as you try to figure out what to do next year, do what's best for you guys, and don't look back. It's not worth worrying about what others think, even though it can be hurtful.

RuthintheDesert
Reply February 16, 2011

This is what I love about being a homeschool graduate (and now a homeschool mom). I feel like I escaped from following the crowd a long time ago. Asking "why should I follow along" comes naturally to me.

Kelsey
Reply February 16, 2011

Ha, I loved the TOMS shoes comments. Sometimes I can't believe I've resisted buying a pair for so long.

I love the practice of taking it a year at a time, child at a time. I was homeschooled for one and a half years, my older brother for two years, and my younger brother for six years. And it worked out well for each of us!

One thing I've learned, especially with outspoken sisters-in-law, is to never set up standards or promises I might one day change. Natural or medicated birth? Wait to find out the sex of the baby or surprise at birth? Homeschool or public school? No tv for kids or tv? Organic or cheapest food? I find that every time I 'announce' my intentions or my opinions of someone else's intentions, I have to take my foot out of my mouth eventually.

If the blogging world has taught me anything, it is that there's no one right way to parent and educate your kids. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, even if you get pushback from those who disagree!

    Amber
    Reply February 17, 2011

    Here is a "pending" comment that I can't unpend from Kelsey:

    Ha, I loved the TOMS shoes comments. Sometimes I can't believe I've resisted buying a pair for so long.

    I love the practice of taking it a year at a time, child at a time. I was homeschooled for one and a half years, my older brother for two years, and my younger brother for six years. And it worked out well for each of us!

    One thing I've learned, especially with outspoken sisters-in-law, is to never set up standards or promises I might one day change. Natural or medicated birth? Wait to find out the sex of the baby or surprise at birth? Homeschool or public school? No tv for kids or tv? Organic or cheapest food? I find that every time I 'announce' my intentions or my opinions of someone else's intentions, I have to take my foot out of my mouth eventually.

    If the blogging world has taught me anything, it is that there's no one right way to parent and educate your kids. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, even if you get pushback from those who disagree!

cassie O.
Reply February 17, 2011

I really do hope this isn't the last of your posting on this topic because I'm struggling right along side you. My first will enter kindergarten next year and I haven't told anyone for fear of rejection, but he will stay here and do school with me. It is weird though, I know I'm following God's lead but I'm also cowering at His call because of what those around me may say or think of me....... this isn't what I want his first lesson to be.

V. Higgins
Reply February 17, 2011

I'm not a mom, and neither is my sister, but we both grew up homeschooled. I came away thinking that homeschooling is awesome but only for certain kids at certain times, some kids do great homeschooling from kindergarten through high school, others need something different. My sister... basically believes putting your kids in school is tantamount to child abandonment and it's the worst thing you could do for any child.

Amber, you and Seth are the only ones who can know what God is saying to your gut. No one else can be your Holy Spirit. He is taking you and your boys on journeys and what may look like a wrong turn to some people, He has planned for great glory and joy. Know that you have lots of people supporting you and your family no matter what you chose. Thank you for being open and sharing where you're at!

goldengirls59
Reply February 17, 2011

I think what you're doing is great. If this is what you and your husband feel is right for your family at this time before God then that is what you do. You are accountable to no man but to the Heavenly Father who has laid out the path for your family's lives. We have homeschooled our children for many years and I do not regret a single minute of it. Sure, there are some days when you think "what on earth have I done?" but in the long run you will be so thankful for every minute you were able to spend with them and enjoy watching the light bulb go on in their heads when they learn something new. Nothing is more precious than this.

melissa
Reply February 18, 2011

thanks for this amber. my little one is 4 she will begin school fall 2012 and i'm already trying to decide about schooling. there are soooo many factors to consider. thanks for throwing a few more things out there for me to think about:))

Christi {Jealous Hands}
Reply February 22, 2011

"that since I’m a homeschooler, I’m a judger of other parents’ decisions". BINGO. This has been my biggest struggle as a homeschooling mom. How many times I've wanted to say: "It's not about YOU. Just like you sending your children to public school is not about ME."

Minnesotamom
Reply March 1, 2011

This has been a most helpful (and respectful) discussion, Amber. I'm in the same boat as Melissa (above commenter) with my daughter starting Kindergarten in fall of 2012. Right now she is in 2x/week Christian preschool and loves it, but I am having a really hard time with the thought of her being gone 7-8 hours 5x/week. The hardest thing for me right now is that my husband isn't on the same page. He just assumes public school without giving it another thought, and that's really hard for me...

    Amber
    Reply March 1, 2011

    MinnesotaMom! All I can say is PRAY. We weren't on the same page either, but God changed both of our hearts, and I'm so grateful. I couldn't do this at all without Seth's support.

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