Decision 2008

Here’s a newsflash: Homeschooling is not a perfect system. Duh, right? We’re all broken people, affected by the fall and consequences of sin and all that. Yes, most of us believe that somewhere inside us, but as a homeschooler, I think I have to be on the defensive all the time. It could very well just be my own insecurity, but I’m always afraid that if I come here and say what a stink job I did today with my kids, chances are good someone is going to suggest I give it up. And if they don’t suggest it outright, they will think it. And so I believe I have to clean up my homeschooling persona before I can invite guests over to see it – put on my best face, my best attitude, give my best stories, so that home education looks like a perfect system. And doing that does a disservice to everyone, for it makes me dishonest with myself and with you.

Homeschooling is hard. And there are days I am ready to give it up altogether. And that’s what I don’t feel the freedom to share here very often.

Here’s the other thing, though. Most of the things we’ve been called to in life, most of the things we believe with all our hearts God has led us in, most of these things are hard. That doesn’t make them bad. It doesn’t make them non-important. It doesn’t give us an excuse to give up and choose another way simply because it is easier. Living on support for 12 years? Hard. Moving across the country to begin seminary? Hard. Sticking it out in a church situation you gave up on in your heart four months prior? Hard. Home educating four girls who are separated in age by less than 5 years between the oldest and youngest? Hard!

Certainly we have the freedom to choose another way. We’ve always said we would take this thing one year at a time; reevaluate our school decision each year, and according to each kid. From Craig’s point of view, this freedom was really the freedom to continue on with homeschooling until we felt led to change. From my point of view, I felt like I was on trial every year, having to prove to myself, to my kids, to Craig that this was a good thing for us. The allowance of knowing we could or would change course from year to year was a burning match for me this year waiting to light any spark that would ignite from personal conflict in our family and because of our schooling situation. The wiggle room this freedom allowed had me on constant edge, never really knowing what we’d do for the long haul, never resting in our calling.

A couple of weeks ago, Craig and I outlined what we saw to be the pros and cons of all the scenarios. When it was all said and done (and it took a lot of time and a lot of tears), we concluded that for our family the best decision was to continue homeschooling full time through sixth grade and then enroll the girls in Craig’s school as seventh graders. Now, this decision could change by the time Maddie becomes a seventh grader, depending upon where we are, if Craig is still at the school he is at now, if we think Maddie and the school will be a good match, etc. But for now, I know I have three more years with her at home. And four more with Chloe. And six more with Katie. And eight more with Millie. We have a plan. A plan that goes beyond just making it through until May and then deciding again for the next year. And the very nature of having this plan has helped me to relax in my calling to homeschool the girls as well as to more fully embrace it. And this is a good thing, because where previously a major conflict with one of the girls would have sent me straight to the school district’s website scouring for information on all the 3rd and 4th grade teachers, now I realize our decision isn’t going to waver just because we had a particularly poor relating experience one afternoon. I know we will push through it and persevere with one another and for one another. And I’m glad for that.

So that’s that. To borrow a phrase from a friend, I think I’ve been afraid of being pigeon-holed as a “typical” homeschooler. I’ve never really felt like I fit in anywhere with our year-to-year reevaluation of our situation. But now I think it’s time to fully identify myself with what I’ve been called to do. I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m happy to identify myself as such.

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15 thoughts on “Decision 2008

  1. JoAnne says:

    Megan,
    Yesterday’s Sabbath meal at my sister-in-law’s house included an extended discussion on homeschooling vs. part homeschool/later Christian school (and other, less desirable options), punctuated by the cries of the two infant boys and one infant girl whose futures were being discussed. I understand the desire to have a plan, no matter where it may eventually end up, and I think it will definitely help you when times are rough. Hurrah for the Halfpint Homeschool!

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  2. Jess says:

    That’s awesome Megan. I think you do an excellent job! I’m looking forward to a time when I feel committed to a “plan.” Right now it’s all about transition and research – which is where I was last year. Question about the Sonlight curriculum. I’m looking at the “Newcomer” curriculum packages that seem to have everything you could possibly need (but they are PRICEY) – and then looking at just picking up a couple of subjects and filling in with other things. What would you suggest? I’m leaning toward the Newcomer package because at least at first, I think I could use the structure… any thoughts?

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  3. Keri says:

    Thanks for this post. I think it’s something a certain segment of homeschoolers struggle with – I know I have. Encouraging to hear your thoughts…

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  4. Charliam says:

    Sounds like your situation has been similar to “learning how to drive.” One of the first things I had to learn in order to drive straight was to look down the road rather than just in front of the hood of the car. Having a plan and a direction made a tremendous difference in having a smoother ride.
    Congrats on your decision . . . you and the family are continually in my prayers. 🙂

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  5. Christy says:

    Interesting post. This may sound strange, but I have some of the same feelings about eating the way I like to eat. I feel convicted to eat organic, wholesome, nourishing foods. And I’m always on edge around my husband’s Southern family b/c I’m afraid they think I’m some weirdo health freak. I simply shrivel up inside. I’ve been thinking lately I just need to embrace who I am in this area and enjoy it. So what if someone else thinks I’m weird? It’s all relative. I can join the fun and joke with them about our differences. And I feel great and can actually think straight when I’m eating well, so what’s to lose? Here’s to throwing the defensive feelings into the compost heap. 😉

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  6. kateortiz says:

    thank you for your thoughts, megan. as i am new to thinking about all of this, i had not really thought of taking it year by year as perhaps being a bit stressful…knowing myself i could see that happening. and i can totally relate to the “scouring the website post-conflict” situation. i think i find it humorous because again, i see myself doing the same thing. thanks for your honesty.

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  7. Ed Eubanks says:

    Good for you. Nothing I’ve ever done in my life that was worth doing wasn’t hard in some way. Stick to it.
    For what it’s worth, you’re probably the best homeschooling mom I’ve encountered– and in 7 years of youth ministry and 6 years teaching at Wildwood, that’s quite a few.

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  8. Kristin says:

    I’m with you Megan! We entered into homeschooling as a trial and I insisted we’d take it one year at a time. The thing is by spring I was freaking out about the next fall. Glad to know I’m not the only one who freaks out without a plan. Other homeschoolers often ridiculed me b/c of my “one kid at a time” philosophy rather “homeschool at all costs!” We did take a break this year and send them to a Christian school. It has been a good break but has reaffirmed our calling to homeschool.
    I also like to point out to others who are questioning that THIS IS NOT THE TIME OF YEAR TO MAKE A DECISION about next year. Everyone is just done. Even public school teachers. It’s just that time of the year when we’d all rather be outside instead of diagramming sentences. I like to wait until mid summer to decide, I’m usually less stressed by then (usually.)

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  9. Renae says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I never thought of having a year-by-year-wait-and-see plan as a trial, but you are right. I would feel that way, too.
    We have made the commitment to homeschool. I don’t know exactly how long that will be, but for now it is the plan. And I’m sticking to it. 🙂

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  10. Loretta says:

    Hi Megan! I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I have been enjoying it for quite some time now. 🙂
    My husband and I have been married going on 35 years and we have a daughter who is turning 18 in a few weeks. She came to us, miraculously, via adoption, when she was 36 hours old. When she was born, we began paying close attention to the goings-on in our school system, and, considering that our state ranks at or near the bottom every year in test scores, we prayed about the possibility of homeschooling. We didn’t know any homeschoolers, but we truly felt called to take on this responsibility. Not to mention that I couldn’t bear the thought of sending my baby off to school five days a week when she turned five, after having waited nearly 17 years to become a mommy! I wanted her with me. 🙂 We decided from the start that we would homeschool all the way through high school.
    Now, as I sit looking at my daughter’s high school diploma and the graduation announcements I just designed and ordered online, I think back over the years and realize that they just FLEW by! There were many days when I second-guessed myself, and plenty of days when I wanted to pull my hair out, lol. But the joy of teaching my child to read and seeing her take off with it, reading on a college level in the third grade, can never be adequately described. Watching her develop an interest in a subject and having the freedom to spend as much time as we wanted on exploring that subject–not having to stick to an arbitrary schedule–was wonderful. Getting to be the one who “saw” her grasp a concept for the first time was akin to being the one who got to see her take her first steps or hear her say her first words. I would not have missed any of it for anything in the world!
    When she was in the ninth grade, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through very aggressive treatment for two school years. I was so incredibly sick during chemo, lost all my hair, had a mastectomy, had to do chemo again, and then had 36 rounds of radiation. I was exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally. But we still struggled through with homeschooling. My daughter practically ran the household while I was sick, doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. She even managed my wound care after my surgery! When my husband, who is a truck driver, had to go back to work, I don’t know what I would have done if we had not been homeschooling. We have no family close by and all our friends have jobs and families to take care of.
    It’s true that while I was sick, we abandoned geometry and I certainly couldn’t do any field trips. But the life lessons my daughter learned during that time were priceless.
    Now, our homeschooling is over. Our daughter is a lovely, confident, competent young woman with a strength of character and values and wisdom far beyond her years. I have no regrets about homeschooling except that I wish I hadn’t second-guessed myself so much. I was doing fine. 🙂

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  11. agapesantos says:

    Megan,
    HOORAY. I have two things to say.
    1. I wish I had had the guts to homeschool. I’ve wished this so many times, especially with M. I made my decision, and I’ve always wondered what would have happened if we/I had made a different decision. Sigh. I never had the guts to even try.
    2. I have always struggled with the idea that sometimes i can fret a long time over making the “right” decision when there isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” decision – i just need to make a decision, and then make it right. The corrolary to this struggle is that there are very few decisions in life that have to be permanent, as in written in marble (marriage, etc.). The rest can be changed – a new decision can be made, and sometimes should be made. So, if E4 is one day E7 and you know that homeschooling is no longer best for you or for her, then you are still free to make a new decision without GUILT. or if M9 gets to 7th grade and the school options don’t work for you, or for her, you are free to change your mind. IT is just GOOD to have a DECISION made NOW that you can live with… and that takes you off of that GUILT wheel!
    You Go GIRL! You are loved, you are lovely, and you are a GREAT MOM. Really.

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  12. martha10 says:

    good for you. your commitment level to homeschooling has always been high and you seemed to “enjoy” the challenges of it as well…even tho’ it hasn’t been easy.
    i think you’ll do well, by God’s grace and am glad you have come up with this plan. m

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  13. Catherine says:

    Hi Megan. I followed links and discovered your blog one lovely day, and have been enjoying it ever since. This particular post has been really helpful for me! It’s good to hear this kind of stuff at our particular stage of life! A good reminder it is that most of the things we are called to are hard. There is no backing out or finding the path of least resistance. So important to remember if we are to stick it out for the long haul, whatever the calling.

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