At the Heart of Homeschooling

When we began homeschooling,  I was very idealistic. My kids were going to enjoy their childhood, nurture their love of learning, and be free from school stress. They would grow up to be emotionally healthy adults with every chance to succeed.

Then we hit the first roadblock: ME. Having little children at home 24/7 was exhausting. Realizing their educational future rested on my shoulders was terrifying. Accepting the full responsibility of their emotional development was crushing. At least parents who send their kids to school have someone to blame if things go wrong.

Let’s face it, homeschooling is not for cowards.

My husband came to the rescue many times. He took the kids to the park, the pool, or the grocery store, giving me a break and time to reflect.  I’d grab my favorite books and my journal and work through my fears.

I came to realize this central truth: If our homeschool has any hope for success, I must maintain my heart for my children.

What Does it Mean to Have a Heart for My Child?

Photo by Duska Cornwell

1. Unconditional Love

He is a child who is emotionally vulnerable, and I am the parent, laying the foundation of self acceptance and emotional health that will last his lifetime.

My love does not depend on how well he behaves. He can kick and bite me, but I will not withhold my love from him.  I will always be there with a hug, a kiss, and kind words.

I must never forget that I am not only parenting him right now; I am also parenting the next several generations. What my child learns from me will continue to my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren.

2. Sacrificial Giving

I don’t always want to sit in the car for two hours while my child is at a rehearsal, or pay big bucks and drive an hour every week to provide lessons, but it doesn’t matter what I want. This is my child’s future. This is my window in time to give her what she needs to find her path.

3. Unwavering Confidence

I believe in my child’s worth and potential, no matter what.

I must remember to speak words of confidence in him and belief in his bright future. Every night for many years I would kiss my children goodnight and say, “You are a treasure and a blessing from God.”

A View from Down the Road

Photo by Jena Borah

My children are not grown yet, but my oldest is in college and gives me hope that my idea of “maintaining your heart for your child” is on the right track.  He believes parents are the key to successful kids. Among the people he knows at college, only a handful are confident and positive about life. Being smart is secondary. All his friends are smart, but few are emotionally strong. Of course, I had tears in my eyes as he said these things.

My next child turns 18 soon. I think her Terrible Twos lasted 12 years, then flared up again around age 15. But I tried to keep my head and maintain my unconditional love, sacrificial giving and unwavering confidence in her. Today she is self-controlled, competent and confident, and we enjoy a close relationship. She’s excited about college and ready to move into adulthood.

My third child just turned 16, and I am still thick in the battle for my mind and attitude sometimes. But our foundation of deep love and respect has made these teenage years not as difficult as they could be.

Let’s be realistic–even parents who do “everything right” can have a child turn away and follow a destructive path.

We can’t guarantee our kids will turn out okay. All we can do is control our own behavior, living a life of no regrets–full of love and hope for the little ones in our home.

In case you’re wondering, here are the books I relied on:

Now I’d love to hear how you maintain your heart for your child.

About Jena

Jena homeschooled her three children all the way to college. When they left the nest, she started a masters degree in elementary education and taught one year in the public schools. She blogs about her homeschooling years and her interest-led philosophy at Yarns of the Heart.

Comments

  1. I don’t homeschool (my son is only 11 months) but these are great things to think about!

  2. Embejo says:

    I can’t say how much I am enjoying this blog. It’s provided much needed encouragement and has come at just the right time….I’m home schooling our children. We have one daughter 7, and three sons 5, 2 and 1 month.

  3. Emily says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this site! Over the past week, I’ve found myself coming here daily for a dose of wisdom concerning homeschooling and mothering in general! Thank you for your encouragement today. I find myself feeling overwhelmed by the end of the day and realize that’s just when I need a little time to myself. When i get this balance, I find I have so much more patience and energy to pour into my kids! I’ve just started homeschooling…my oldest will be ready for “kindergarten” in the fall.

  4. Aimee says:

    this was beautiful and encouraging…thank you so much for sharing and inspiring me to remember that the relationship is the most important thing….a POSITIVE and RESPECTFUL relationship. I’ll read this again and again.
    .-= Aimee’s last blog: Multiply Your Love =-.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. It went right to my heart and made me breathe a big breath of… I don’t know what exactly, but it made me breathe. In this rat race world where people are running in every direction I just sit here with a dazed expression on my face and wonder if we are extreme, this pulling back, this drawing together, this taking time, lots of time, to just be, and learn, and laugh together. But no. There is a still small voice within that says I will have no regrets. That years down the road when each one of us are pursuing our individual paths, we will bless the ties that bind, and we will be the richer because of it. I deeply enjoyed this post.
    .-= Prairie Chick’s last blog: The Peasant Princess Project, Part VII =-.

  6. Donna says:

    You are right on here. No matter how hard it may be at times, these are the things that are most important and that will get you through. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Stephani says:

    Thank you for this inspiration. I printed a copy of this article right a way so that I could read it over and over again. With so much in life going on we sometimes forget what is the most important….

  8. LOVE this. I don’t really have anything else to say, except thank you!
    .-= Mandi @ Organizing Your Way’s last blog: Affiliate Marketing, Disclosures & Earning an Income from Your Blog =-.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thank you! This is beautiful and I appreciate getting 3 essentials from an experienced homeschooling mom!
    .-= Jennifer’s last blog: Happy Sun Day =-.

  10. Sara says:

    A wonderful reminder about why we really homeschool. Definitely not for the glory. I love that you included the points of experience that give us new(ish) homeschooling moms hope that it does work.
    .-= Sara’s last blog: I Bought Something Without Using A Coupon – And Live To Tell About It =-.

  11. Kara says:

    “All we can do is control our own behavior, living a life of no regrets–full of love and hope for the little ones in our home.” – yes! yes! YES!

    Thank you for this beautiful post and for opening up your heart as an experienced homeschooling mom … it is nice to hear the thoughts from someone further along in the journey than I am. Our oldest is in 2nd grade this year, but I know that the teen years will be here before I know it.

    Wonderful post!
    .-= Kara’s last blog: Today on Simple Homeschool: At the Heart of Homeschooling =-.

  12. Kika says:

    This is my ninth ‘official’ year of homeschooling and I continue to learn and improve (I believe and thank goodness). One of the biggest challenges for me at this current season of life is giving more selflessly. My kids are branching out and we already volunteer lots so its a busy time but when I start to feel grouchy about this I am quicker to recall that as a parent we are called to be selfless… not let ourselves fall apart, of course… but I am learning to give more of myself when I’d rather not, to cheer on my son at basketball even though a few quiet hours at home would feel nicer to me, etc. At 38ys old sometimes I realize I am just like a toddler – determined to get my own way, or else:) Growth is so good. What a joy to know that I will never stop growing even as I encourage and facilitate growth in my children.

  13. Jamie says:

    I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again–this post is lovely and beautiful, as you are Jena! Thank you for sharing who you are with all of us…

    Jamie
    .-= Jamie’s last blog: At the Heart of Homeschooling =-.

  14. Jessica says:

    Thank you, for this article. I find myelf trying to keep my sanity on a daily basis with my three young children whose ages are 5, 4 and 1. My oldest seems like she’s 5 going on 16! It’s hard sometimes to remember to celebrate and embrace your kids when your overwhelmed by temper tantrums and attitudes. I love my children with all my heart, and I need to try harder to make sure they know that. Thank’s for the reminder.

  15. I’ve been feeling like the road block the past few months. Thank you for this gentle reminder. You are correct. Homeschooling is not for cowards.
    .-= Heidi @ Mt Hope’s last blog: Weekend Get-Away =-.

  16. Leslie says:

    “Having little children at home 24/7 was exhausting. Realizing their educational future rested on my shoulders was terrifying. Accepting the full responsibility of their emotional development was crushing.” um, this is me exactly right now. Thank you for this timely post. Especially coming from a mom whose children are close to grown, it’s great to hear your advice and perspective.
    .-= Leslie’s last blog: Some Thoughts on Behavior =-.

  17. Brenda says:

    Here’s to living life with NO regrets!

    Great post!

  18. Jena says:

    Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for all the wonderful comments. Living through the early years of parenting and homeschooling can feel overwhelming, even hopeless. So I am overjoyed that my journey is giving a little help. It’s easy to get bogged down on all the little details and the millions of things that need to get done, but if we can boil it down to what’s really important, we won’t lose our way. That’s what kept me afloat, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to talk about here on Simple Homeschool!

    And by the way, I LOVE to answer questions, so feel free to ask here in the comments or at my blog.
    .-= Jena’s last blog: My First Post on SimpleHomeschool.net =-.

  19. Vanessa says:

    “All we can do is control our own behavior, living a life of no regrets–full of love and hope for the little ones in our home.”

    I love this statement so much, I think it is going on the refrigerator for awhile! I do not homeschool, but we do like to live simply and close. Thanks for the great words of encouragement and inspiration.

  20. One of the main reasons I homeschool is to spend time with my kids, to bond with them and love them. I love having them around. I think reading together is a great way to help build that bond. We snuggle up together and open up conversations that we wouldn’t otherwise have.
    .-= Emily @ Homespun Light’s last blog: Book Review: Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter =-.

  21. Vina says:

    I’m so thankful for the honesty about homeschooling, as someone who is looking into it absolutely terrified.

  22. The timing of this new blog couldn’t have been better, I feel as if the Lord orchestrated it just for me!
    I am so clueless about homeschooling though we aren’t “officially” starting until September we are practicing right now :)

    I love that homeschooling isn’t simply about numbers and memorizing facts, as I am slowly learning!
    .-= Jenn @ Beautiful Calling’s last blog: Feeling Munchy? Home Made Potato Chips =-.

  23. Jennifer Jo says:

    I think it DOES matter what we (the homeschool parents) want. I don’t give up my wants for my children’s interests, but I do work hard so that our wants line-up—our interests have to mesh and blend together. So even though I might not always WANT to spend all my days hanging out with my kids, I do, overall, WANT to be with my kids. Does that make sense? (It’s like love—it’s not always a feeling.)
    .-= Jennifer Jo’s last blog: The morning after =-.

  24. Stefani says:

    This is perfect in every single way – so simple and so richly true. I might just have to print it out and read it over and again at the start of each day! Thank you for sharing your heat with us Jena!

  25. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. What an encouraging post.

  26. Liz says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m bookmarking it.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    -Liz (mom to 5 yo and 3 yo beginning the homeschooling journey)

  27. Shannon J says:

    #2 Sacrificial Giving struck me as something we’re pondering right now in a different way. We’re working on a budget and financial goals and are having to really stretch to make the outgoing not exceed the incoming. A large category for our family is ‘vacations’ which includes small things like a weekend in a hotel to visit a new aquarium and large things like traveling out of the country every summer. At first glance it seems to make sense to cut that down so we can do what we think we should in terms of paying off mortgage/saving but when we discussed it further we both realize we’d rather keep the debt and continue traveling. Our oldest will be 13 this summer and there are only a handful of years left with him at home. If we put off major trips for 4 years (like we had initially considered) then we’d miss too many adventures with him. Now is the time we have with him/them. We don’t want to miss any of it.

    • It’s funny you mention that, Shannon–I’m totally on the same page! In fact we just got back an hour ago from taking our kids on a surprise winter getaway to an aquarium and a hotel with a pool…

      We ask ourselves similar questions b/c we also want to be good financial stewards, but we also want to take advantage of opportunities that we have now that we may not have later on. Great point!

      Jamie
      .-= Simple Homeschool~Jamie’s last blog: Weekend Links =-.

    • Jena says:

      This is a good point. We took the kids to NYC the summer before Peter went off to college. We figured it was our last chance to do something we’ve always wanted to do. We got a hotel room for a few nights (in Newark), went to a Broadway show, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, then we went to Boston for all the great history sites. I wish we lived closer to the East Coast!

      We’ve been in ministry, and that’s included travel to India, so we are thankful to have that for our family. Our kids have been taught to live frugally, but we make sacrifices for them too. Melissa played hockey in junior high because it was a sport open to homeschoolers. That was an hour away and a lot of money, but we thought it was worth it. She’s our sports kid who’d never really had an opportunity.

      It all boils down to you and your values and what you think is best for your family. Thanks for bringing this up.
      .-= Jena’s last blog: My First Post on SimpleHomeschool.net =-.

  28. Jenny says:

    Jena,

    I really loved what you had to say about keeping your heart for your kids. I’m going to post a link on my blog and hope it will influence the family who read our blog into really getting behind our purpose and mission for homeschooling.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Jenny
    scoutroadschoolhouse.blogspot.com
    .-= Jenny’s last blog: Good, Bad & Ugly =-.

  29. Laura says:

    I want to thank you deeply for your thoughts. They have come at a particularly difficult time for me. I want all these wonderful things for my kids but there just isn’t enough time in the world for all the “great” stuff out there. I do need to finalize our family goals and needs. Then, I can put together the truly important things, connect fully with my boys, and still keep my hold on myself. Homeschooling and mothering have both been very difficult for me. As much as I love my family, I feel overwhelmed, terrified, and surrounded most of the time. I feel like I’m not doing it “right”. I feel like I’m being evaluated by others, my husband included, about my choices. It’s so much easier to put a movie on for them and retreat to my room with a good book to escape into. This article and the many others are helping me remember who I was before all of this, who I am now, and who I want to be. I’ll be purchasing your book as the budget allows so I can keep reminding myself. Thank you for the continued inspiration.

  30. The Editor says:

    I am really under that pressure right now…husband on travel for six months…three little ones (2, 5, 7) at home…viral fever, strep throat, stomach bug for all in three weeks…this post brought me to tears and cleared the windows to my soul, so to speak, thanks for words to cling to in this journey that is definitely not for the faint of heart…

  31. Mab says:

    This post was such a gift. I really appreciated sharing the words that your oldest son shared with you. It can be so easy to get caught up in the daily stuff and just get so overwhelmed but the big picture is so inspiring that can have me look beyond the laundry load, the “why he won’t just work on this” thoughts I am having, and then pushing myself and probably my children too much trying to do all. I am resolving to make relationships a priority, get help or lessen the load, and live my life with no regrets and I truly hope that inspire my children to do the same.

  32. Rana says:

    Jena,
    You are so right. All I can do is love my children and do the best I can for them through my actions and my words. I just have to trust them and trust in myself that we can build a foundation that will make them happy, loving, successful people.
    .-= Rana’s last blog: Life Lesson # 255 : Stranger Danger =-.

  33. Angie says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful article – gives me great hope as I embark into a new chapter in motherhood…

  34. Dana says:

    Wonderful post! There is so much you find yourself relearning as a homeschool mom. It is similar to holding your first child when everything you thought important seems to take on different roles in the background. You start to rethink the very nature of education and parenting as a homeschool mom.
    .-= Dana’s last blog: A year in pictures =-.

  35. The Scooper says:

    I take great heart when I hear from those who have traveled the home school road and live to tell about it. I’m still sort of new at this and sometimes don’t know how to prioritize…not to mention getting bogged down in the specifics of curricula and methods and placement. It’s good to be reminded that all that stuff is secondary to the cultivation of the heart. Thank you.

  36. Tracie says:

    Very encouraging post since I often wonder if my five year old son will give me a run for my money up until he’s well into his teens. What an amazing boy, but what a handful. Reading this really gives me hope that a strong will does serve our children later in life. Thanks for posting
    .-= Tracie’s last blog: Avoiding our car whenever possible =-.

  37. denise jones says:

    great post. i wasn’t at all shocked to see the book “the blessing” in your suggested reading. i read that book even before i was married, and 13 years later find it’s truths of giving blessing to your children to be the most fruitful of any book i’ve read.

  38. I just started How to Really Love Your Child based on your recommendation here and I just had to stop back and say thank you. This is the one parenting book I needed…
    .-= Diana (Ladybug Limited)’s last blog: Red Sings from Treetops =-.

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