Here we are again, wrapping up another school year! As I reflect on the past 16 years, I thought I’d share a few lessons I’ve learned after 16 years of homeschooling.
16 Lessons I’ve Learned After 16 Years of Homeschooling
Technically, I’ve learned at least 16,000 lessons since I started homeschooling. I’d share them all, but whether you homeschool or not, you have probably already learned that at the very moment you finally have all the children gathered so you can enjoy reading a book together, someone will have to poop. This is inevitable.
I narrowed the lessons learned down to what I declare to be the most important. Here’s my heart as I share the top 16 lessons I’ve learned about homeschooling during the past 16 years:
1. Time spent with my kids is invaluable.
It wasn’t until my kids became teens and adults that I began to truly realize how valuable our time together has been in creating solid, safe relationships with them. Homeschooling has given us time to work, serve, learn, and grow together and for all the energy and effort it takes to homeschool, I would absolutely chose it again based on the bonded relationships God has provided for us because of it.
2. Breaks are necessary.
As incredibly blessed as I feel at having so much beautiful time with my children for all these years, I will admit to you that for the love of my sanity, sometimes I just need a bit of quiet. There were actually times I got jealous of the moms who sent their kids to school and didn’t “have” to teach, parent, feed, and guide her children all the live-long-day. Homeschooling can be taxing and I’ve sometimes felt like I might go a little crazy as an introvert who was almost never alone in the quiet.
I’ve had to often remind myself of the gift of time I had with my kids (see #1). And I had to learn to be wise with my own time and choose rest and refreshment away from my kids as needed. God always provided, and the truth is, sometimes sending them all upstairs to watch a movie for two hours so I could have a little uninterrupted quiet time was good for all of us. Indeed, I never killed any of my kids, not even once.
3. We accomplish more during our school year than we think we do.
I hear from homeschool moms all the time who feel that they can never “get it all done” in every area from school work to house work. Seeing as “getting it all done” doesn’t have an actual definition, and the fact that there is always laundry, I’ve learned that yep, we can’t get it all done. Truth: We are still all giving our kids an incredible amount of education during a school year.
Never, ever should a homeschool mom feel like they aren’t getting enough done. You can’t do it all, but you can do enough. You do and you are, I promise. Just believe it.
4. Homeschool allows our kids extra time to explore their gifts, passions, and talents.
I can’t sing loud enough about how great it has been that homeschooling has allowed our kids the time and ability to discover what they love and then to spend time developing their gifts. Our oldest studied, learned, and experimented with videography all through his high school years. As a result, he discovered his passion and great talent, which has now become a profession and career for him.
Our second oldest followed his passion for music and began creating sound tracks on software at a young age. Now he’s pursuing a career in Music Production. We’re watching boys #3 and #4 find their gifts and explore what they love, and to see God reveal their talents while watching them use their time to develop them has been incredible.
5. Homeschooling has given us flexibility.
This one ranks up there as one of my favorites. While we’ve needed to establish a general routine in our days so we can actually get through our curriculum, we’ve also realized the value of the flexibility that homeschooling has offered.
When my mom was sick and dying, we were able to make frequent trips to Kansas to visit. When a need for serving people comes up, we are able to load up and help. When sickness hits our house, we are able to adjust our school routine as needed. When a job comes up that would allow our boys to make some extra money, they are able to jump on it and finish their school work later in the day.
Flexibility has been an incredible perk to homeschooling!
6. Homeschool is a real thing.
What I mean is, homeschooling isn’t just a cute little educational option for people. It’s the real deal, with real opportunities.
At our homeschool basketball tournament this year, I looked around at the thousands of other homeschool athletes from all across the Midwest and marveled at what homeschooling has become. (One of the teams we played against is ranked in the nation. I didn’t know homeschool teams could even be ranked, did you? Incredible.)
We have prom, competitive sports, choirs, PE, drama, tournaments, debate teams, robotics, speech meets, science fairs, and field trips. And sometimes we actually read books, you know, when we have time.
7. If it used to work, but it doesn’t work anymore, it’s okay to make a change.
This applies to every aspect of life, but in regard to homeschooling, I’ve had to learn that what works for one kid might not work for another. And what worked when my kids were little might not work now that they’re older. This is why all my kids do all of their own laundry now. Amen.
Our youngest went through a phase where he only wore suits.
Now he is taller than me and he shaves.
8. Our homeschool doesn’t have to look the same as your homeschool.
I used to hear about the cool things other homeschool families were doing and feel inferior or begin to worry that I wasn’t doing enough. This is rubbish. We do what works best for us, you do what works best for you, and we can share resources if it is a blessing to us both. Cheers.
9. It’s okay if some people don’t understand homeschooling.
Each of us only knows what we know, so if someone is unfamiliar with homeschooling, they might assume or say something that makes you cringe. It’s not worth your brain energy to worry about this. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and if God led you to homeschool, then walk that path confidently. Answer peoples’ questions with a smile; share what you are doing without apology.
Once I took one of my kids on an errand to the bank during school hours, which of course, invited the inevitable question from the bank teller, “No school today?”
Me: We homeschool.
Bank Teller: Oh, taking a break this morning?
Me, with a smile: Nope, we’ve found that taking our kids to run errands like this is a great part of their education, so we consider this to be part of our school day. Thanks for helping teach our son about bank deposits this morning!
Bank Teller: Oh, wow. Well, sure! I’ve never thought about that. It makes so much sense. Here, would you like a sucker?
10. Homeschoolers are socialized.
It had to be said. Never can I discuss this topic with a straight face. I totally can’t even. Roll on the floor laughing. God bless us everyone. My homeschooled kids are friends with and can have intelligent conversations with public school kids, church camp kids, younger kids, older kids, elderly people, other kids’ parents, handicapped people, and of course, other homeschooled kids. It’s a joy to watch the interactions. Socialization? This is totally a non-issue. XOXO
11. My house will almost always be messy-ish.
We live here, work here, and school here. Therefore you will walk into my house and see books all over the floor, computers on the couch, hoodies thrown over the backs of chairs, and wadded up socks on the steps. The front closet smells like feet and I promise we do dishes at least twice every day but you probably can’t tell.
Nobody needed to see that.
12. There are resources for everything!
When people hear we homeschool, frequently they say something like, “How do you know how to teach all the subjects like Algebra and Biology?” Oh goodness, I don’t, but not to worry. There’s a book for that. Or software. Or a CD. And, “Hey Alexa. What’s the population of India?” Yeah, she’s helpful to have around.
You should see how fat some of the homeschool resource catalogs are. There is no shortage of items to order to fit every family, every preference, every kid, and every learning style, from classical to traditional to textbook to literature based and everything in between. You can spend a lot or you can spend a little. You can find oodles of freebies and you can trade and share with friends.
So thankfully, I don’t have to be an expert on everything before educating my kids. All I need is the heart and desire to help my kids learn how to learn. The rest is readily available.
——–> Psst! This week is the Build your Bundle Sale which provides 250 printable curriculum items for up to 95% off! This is a perfect resource for homeschool families. Check it out here. <——–
13. Homeschooling gives us more time to spend talking with our kids about Holy Living.
I can’t scream loudly enough about how important it is to spend time together with our kids in the Word, in prayer, and in discussion. We have had to be intentional to make this a priority through the years, especially as our kids have gotten older and busier. Because we are together so much of the day, our kids have shared in all of our daily adult struggles, which has helped them learn about real life application to scripture. I am exceedingly grateful for this.
14. Jesus is more important than school work.
#13 leads me to share #14, which says that while the year 1776 is important and preparing our kids to take the ACT is unavoidable, helping our kids understand and seek a relationship with the Father is more important than anything on this earth. Learning about God’s Kingdom always trumps learning specifics about the Kingdom Animalia. As a matter of fact, when asked what is the most important for the Kingdom, Jesus said, “Love me. Love your neighbor.” We still do all the school work but it’s not a hill we die on. As we wrap up our years of parenting, we refuse to spend hours prepping for an ACT score which will matter for five minutes. Instead, we prioritize a focus on Christ’s character and service for the Kingdom which matters for eternity.
15. Bible time isn’t a part of school time.
What I mean is, we used to work our family Bible time into our school day routine. But we stopped doing this after the first few years of homeschooling because it became too much a part of a check-list. We didn’t want our kids to associate learning about God’s Word with just another assignment in their notebook. We “do math” but we don’t “do Bible.” We live Jesus. So family Bible time evolved into something separate from the school list. This works much better for us.
16. Homeschool kids struggle with the same things all kids struggle with.
Temptation presses in from the enemy on all sides. Drugs, drinking, sex, pornography, depression, peer pressure, disrespect, relationship drama – no matter where a teen gets his or her education, they fight similar battles.
I praise God that we are privileged to be so available to guide our kids through the challenges they face. When one of our son’s friend’s attempted suicide, he came to us for advice and prayer. When another of our son’s friends ran away from home, we prayer-battled together. Our kids face the world’s pain just as any kid does. We’re thankful to be able to navigate the pain and temptations together while we join forces in seeking solutions.
Continuing to Learn
We’ve got five more homeschooling years ahead of us so no doubt, the learning will continue. Hopefully our kids will learn a little something too. ;)
Homeschooler or not, I’d love to hear the best of what you’ve learned during your years of educating your kids!
P.S. You might be interested in: