Having been a public school graduate and a public school teacher, I never even considered homeschooling.
I had already sent my oldest child to kindergarten at the local public school, and he was successful. However, something kept nagging me. I realized that I hardly ever saw him. I felt as though I was pushing him out the door every morning and rushing through dinner to get him in bed at a decent hour each night.
I knew that God was prompting me to change my thought process on education, but honestly, I didn’t want to.
- I wanted to be like everyone else.
- I wanted to go with the flow of everyone else.
- I wanted to fit in and feel normal.
But that nagging feeling just wouldn’t go away. So I asked my husband to please pray about it, and a few months later, we were embarking on one of the greatest journeys of our life.
When we first started our homeschool journey, it felt like we were missing out on a lot of things. The moment your child finds out who's class he is in as a homeschooler doesn't have the same thrill (spoiler alert: they are in your class!).
The first day of school didn’t quite have the same feel either. When the parents around me were participating in school fairs and parties, we were home. While most of the other moms I knew were chatting about school shopping, teachers, and school policy, I was left with nothing to contribute to these conversations. There were some days where I felt isolated and alone.
It took a complete mindset shift for me to find my groove in the homeschool world, and now, after eight years of homeschooling, I find it laughable that I ever wondered if homeschooling could provide us with the thriving community and abundant blessings that we desired. However, before embracing this new mindset, these are a few concepts that I had to accept first.
1. It’s Worth It to Be Different
Our family was undoubtedly different once we began homeschooling. When we started our journey in our small community, there weren’t many other homeschool families, and we struggled in some areas. But I soon realized that homeschooling was worth it.
Every day, I saw my children growing closer together and thriving in their schoolwork. Since my oldest child used to struggle with anxiety most mornings, it was such a blessing to see him wake up every day happy and excited to face the day.
He didn’t miss anything about school, and I quickly decided that the trade off of not being normal by society's standards was worth it.
My youngest son doesn’t enjoy homeschooling as much. He’s an extrovert who loves people. However, he’s also a follower, and there’s worth in keeping him home too. At home, I can ensure his success in school and help him set aside time for his spiritual growth. Homeschooling is worth it even when the child doesn’t see it yet.
2. Embrace Different
There are interesting and unexpected benefits to being different as well. When my oldest son was in kindergarten, I would wait in the pick-up line every day, and while I waited, I would watch the other parents and notice their vehicles. It seemed to me that everyone had a nicer vehicle than I did. Their cars were full of gadgets and CD players, and automatic doors, and mine...well, we were lucky if the sliding doors on my minivan opened at all.
I complained a lot to my husband during that season about my car, but we just didn’t have the money to upgrade, so my complaints simply brewed in my mind until I was totally dissatisfied with our little minivan.
When we began to homeschool, I was shocked by my newfound satisfaction with our car. My husband even noticed my contentment. Once I took myself out of the comparison pool, I realized that our car was sufficient for our needs and got us around reliably, and it wasn’t an issue that I didn’t have the newest, greatest model anymore.
This is only a small example of the benefits that we have found from being different. With my husband and I modeling to our children the real struggle, our kids have been more likely to accept being different as well. They are more satisfied without having the latest technology, and we struggle less with cases of “The Gimmies.” There are probably a million more small blessings that we find from our choice to be different. Embracing being different is a huge step in shifting your mindset to homeschooling.
3. Find Community Opportunities for Fellowship
Being a homeschooler also means that you are able to look for socialization where you prefer. Many homeschool families seek out a church community to join. Clubs like 4-H have regular meetings where families can fellowship and build community. Of course, don’t forget homeschool co-ops! This is a place where like-minded families can gather to school their children collectively. Co-ops can be a very valuable place to plug in and find common ground. Finding community helps families feel connected and accepted, even as they choose the more untraveled road.
4. Begin Your Own Traditions
One of the things we missed most was the frequent opportunities to invite our family to school functions to see the kids and their work. I remember one day when it just hit me: I didn’t have to give up on those things. I just needed to provide the space myself to do it. So, we began scheduling grandparent’s days, tea parties for our neighbors, and events to get together homeschoolers in our area.
We soon discovered that we were building our own meaningful traditions.
This year, we finished our fifth annual Valentine’s Tea Party. We planned our first Homeschool Science Fair (although the coronavirus derailed those plans). We have hosted Christmas parties and homeschool events, field trips and end-of-year showcases. My kids look forward to our annual events and help plan them, too.
As Christians, we are called to be different anyway. Every part of our lives is designed to say, “Look at me so I can show you Jesus.” We are called to be strangers and aliens in this world. When we get comfortable in our lives, it’s probably time to shake things up anyway, right?
Taking the leap to begin homeschooling can be scary and lonely, but knowing that I was pursuing God’s calling on my life for this season of homeschooling, however long it may be, gave me such peace, and it sustained me through the moments when I was the oddball at the table. By shifting my mindset, I’ve found it's so worth it to be different.
Be different with us! Become a Sonlighter. Learn how...