by Janny Jackson
If you would have told me three years ago that I would be a full time stay at home mom AND homeschooler I would have laughed in your face.
I had absolutely zero intention to homeschool my three children, much less actually enjoy it.
In fact, I openly (ignorantly) criticized homeschoolers when chatting with friends and family, citing parents’ lack of education, credentials, socialization issues, wanting my own freedom, blah blah blah.
But then, THE virus.
When the pandemic hit and the world shut down, my oldest was half way through his kindergarten year. Four weeks prior to the world shutting down we had just uprooted our entire family of five and left everyone and everything we knew to move across the country for my husband’s work. We tried, to no avail, to enroll him into surrounding schools. Then, suddenly, no one was going to school. I remember being SO STRESSED that we had pulled him out of school- a great, smaller, charter school located in the downtown area of our home town- and now he wouldn’t be going to school at all.
And I would have to homeschool.
I remember being angry with God. We had just uprooted our lives to a new state and area, I did not like our new (old) house (that’s a story for another time), and now I was being forced to homeschool my kid, something I did not WANT to do.
My God has a sense of humor.
I did some research, bought what I thought I needed to finish his kindergarten year and tried, reluctantly, to wrap my head around our quickly evolving lives. After some time, my husband thankfully had called his kindergarten teacher and we were able to re-enroll him into his class virtually to finish out his kindergarten year.
Throughout that summer I started to think more seriously about homeschooling. After considering the area we were in, the quality of schools we were zoned for, the state of the world, and our new environment, I decided I would do my best to try my hand at it. Since I had already purchased some curriculum, my son and I skimmed through it so that I could get a better idea of what level he was on and where we needed to pick up. At the time, I had no idea how a homeschool education worked in relation to public school.
Before I move on, I do want to add that I’m a huge promoter and supporter of parents being their children’s first teachers. I did SO MANY free programs, learning classes, reading, and hands on activities with my oldest. I truly enjoyed every bit of those things I did with him, but when it came to his “formal” education I was convinced that I as a parent was not qualified or capable of taking that into my own hands.
The first year of homeschooling was a doozy. While I learned A LOT, and there were many wins and successes, there were also many life changes amidst the beginning of our homeschool journey that made it very difficult, more so mentally than anything. I wrestled a lot, like a lot, with whether or not I was doing the best thing for my kids. Whether I was adequate enough. Whether I was selfishly keeping opportunities from my kids, especially my oldest who is very social. I’m in tears just writing these sentences. It was not an easy transition. I spent many, many sleepless nights crying over my self-imposed inadequacies and not feeling like I was enough for the job.
But by the grace of God, I pushed through and came out stronger and more confident on the other side. How did I do that? Honestly, I’m a very stubborn person. I don’t like to fail. The idea of quitting felt like I was quitting on my kids, and I literally could not do it. Fortunately, most of our closest friends are also homeschoolers, and that support had also been major in our continuing home education.
Fast forward to this year, our third-year homeschooling, I can confidently say that I finally feel like I know what I’m doing. I have two learners now, and a toddler desperate to keep up with his older siblings. Over the spring/summer I became more disciplined with our schedule, did a lot more research, changed everything up, and curated a year of school that I am confident will be successful.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. I have absolutely no judgment towards parents that have decided to educate their children differently. Whether it’s public school, private school, unschooling, or game schooling, I believe all parents are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have when making decisions about their kid’s lives and futures.
This is our story. It was not a journey I initially wanted to endure. It was not easy. But I praise God for the opportunity to not only have faced this trial and come out stronger, but also to be able to be home with my kids in an ever evolving, tumultuous world, while also being able to educate my kids with the appropriate age filters and views I believe are essential to their impressionable eyes and minds.
My love for homeschooling has grown and evolved, and I pray it continues to do so as we continue our home education.
If you have read this far, God bless you. I hope that you will be encouraged by my journey. Unpopular opinion: You don’t have to have the desire to homeschool to do it, initially. But, if you are willing to learn and grow and work through the many obstacles, including your own thoughts about yourself, and learning your child and how he/she learns, your desire and love for homeschooling can grow just like mine has. You are capable.
Not everyone’s journey will look the same. What matters is that you are doing what is best for your kid(s), and your family.