30 Years: A Homeschool Journey ~ The Beginning

It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years this year since I first heard about homeschooling. It was an odd concept at first for a family who had been quite content with public schools. The summer after my ninth grade year, however, we met a homeschooling family, and my parents were intrigued. They were stunned when my brother started kindergarten that fall and they realized how much public schools had changed since I started 10 years before.

By spring, they had decided to homeschool my brother the following year. As plans were made, curriculum was ordered, and excitement mounted, I approached my parents with a question: Why couldn’t I be homeschooled, too?

It was the mid-1980s. The modern homeschooling movement was just picking up steam. Homeschooling a first grader was one thing; homeschooling a high schooler was quite another. College was looming; scholarships were at stake. We had no idea how one graduated from a home school or how homeschoolers got into college. It was a radical choice in those days.  But my parents and I were sure of one thing: God was calling us to home school.

I am thankful for the gift of Godly parents: parents who weren’t perfect, but who sought to model a genuine walk with Christ in our home and who demonstrated to me the meaning of unconditional love; parents who sacrificed much for their children in every area; parents who were anything but risk-takers, but who in spite of many uncertainties stepped out in faith to homeschool their children in a time when those were very uncharted (and unpopular!) waters.

A step of faith it was, but one for which I’m forever grateful. Despite our early concerns, I received numerous full scholarship offers. By then I knew that I wanted to homeschool my children.  Homeschooling became my college research emphasis and one of my life passions.

Billy had never heard of homeschooling when we met, but it didn’t take long for him to get on board with the idea. We began planning to homeschool before we were married.  I had lofty expectations — after all, I had been immersed in homeschooling books, magazines, and curriculum for years. This was going to be a piece of cake!

Then life happened.  It’s one thing to lay out the perfect homeschooling plan while you are still childless; it’s quite another to carry out those plans when life is going crazy all around you. A six-week NICU stay for our youngest (a 30-week preemie), my dad’s seriously declining health and death, violent crime that rocked our family, unexpected health issues of our own — these were just a few of the bumps in our road as a homeschooling family.

Not only did “life” happen, but in the midst of it all, I discovered that the much-loved curriculum  I’d always planned to use simply didn’t work for us. It seemed that homeschooling multiple children close in age (four in six years) was a completely different proposition than one-on-one teaching with an “almost-only” child. Imagine that!

Our homeschooling journey has been nothing like what we expected, but we’ve been blessed abundantly. Homeschooling is no longer seen as “radical”; it’s almost a mainstream choice these days. We are thankful for those who’ve worked to improve our homeschool laws over the years, and  we’ve been blessed with a wonderful homeschool group.

The greatest blessings, however, have come through the work God has done in our family through this adventure of homeschooling. We are not where I had planned to be in our schooling at this point, and yet I know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tell us that we are to teach His words diligently to our children. I will be the first to say that I fail daily in this. But God continues to teach and work in Billy and I as we strive to train and nurture our children in His ways. And He has continually shown us that home is exactly where our children needed to be during the unexpected trials we’ve faced. Academics and extra-curricular activities may not have happened at all as we had planned, but God knew that there were things He needed to teach all of us that we couldn’t have learned in any other way.

Several years ago I posted these thoughts on my blog. God continues to convict me of these things daily:

My primary goal is not for my children to excel academically…although I do want them to excel academically. My primary goal is not for my children to be well-behaved in public…although I certainly want them to be well-behaved in public!  My primary goal is not even first-time obedience with a respectful attitude…although that is a crucial foundation stone and a vital goal.  

My primary goal is for my children to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Only if they truly love Him and have a personal walk with Him as not only Savior, but also Lord of their lives, will they truly be the successes that He…and I…want them to be. No matter what they look like on the outside, no matter how intelligent, polite, and “successful” they appear to be, if they haven’t given their hearts to Him completely, it is all for naught.

Are you struggling with things not going “as planned” in your homeschool? Anxious about being “behind”? Worried that you aren’t measuring up to the standards of others (or even your own)?

Remember that God has planned every one of your days, and the days of your children, from before the foundation of the world. (Psalm 139) Realize that He is teaching you and them in ways that the perfect curriculum never can. Our journey may seem full of unexpected turns and bumps in the road, but He has promised that if we commit our way to Him, He will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This is the first post in a multi-part series on our homeschooling journey.  Don't want to miss an installment?  Sign up to follow Ponderings of an Elect Exile via the links below!

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