Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
Today’s post finishes up the series I’ve been writing over the past month: Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom.
Throughout the past four weeks we’ve talked about school vs. home, curriculum vs. atmosphere, a mom’s education, and burnout. But wouldn’t it be great if we could see our role as homeschooling parents boiled down to one main goal–one idea that would ensure the development of a successful homeschooling foundation?
Knowing this one tip would mean that when everything starts to crumble around us, we’d know exactly what to do to get back on track.
Well, there is such a tip! It’s magical, it’s natural, and above all it’s simple.
The most important thing you’ll ever do for the success of your homeschool is this:
That’s it! Today and every day when you wake in the morning, your job as a homeschool parent is to nurture and build relationships.
And here’s the reason why: Education thrives when relationships are nurtured.
You’ll see this if you think back to your own school career and history. Many of us who were educated traditionally had at least one or more teachers who took a special interest in us, teachers with whom we had a shared connection.
Often that was the class in which we learned the most and the class we enjoyed the most–the relationship mattered.
In my case I remember my 7th Grade English teacher, Mrs. Sarvis. That was the year I decided that I wanted to be an author. I spent much of my free time writing, at both home and school. My mind can still see that purple spiral notebook as if it was yesterday. One afternoon Mrs. Sarvis offered to take my scribbles home with her to read in the evening.
Looking back I’m certain that my stories weren’t all that remarkable, but her response was. She took the time to encourage me, and her encouragement fanned the flame of my dream.
As both teachers and parents, we have even more power to nurture the relationships of those we love most in ways that will help their learning explode and take off.
A few months ago a comment came in on this post from a seasoned homeschooling mom. I was so moved by Debra’s words and experiences that I asked her if I could share them with you today:
“I have been homeschooling my eight children (currently ages 8 to 29) for over twenty three years and there have been many hard times when I wanted to quit. However, I haven’t because this road has been the best one for my family despite the trials.
Homeschooling has continued through marriage and church problems, health and emotional problems, elder parent issues and deaths, three miscarriages, and one bout of cancer.
And as I continue on I have come to know that the journey was never about how competent I am in any school subject, but is about my relationship with my children, my husband, and my God. Period.
If those are a priority everything else will work out.
My oldest son is one of my favorite examples of how it never was about how good a teacher I could be. Despite my personal trials during his high school years, and in spite of never doing any kind of formal science (because of having so many younger children), my son found his passion for biology in college. He studied hard; he networked with teachers. He was offered full graduate school scholarships to MIT and Harvard. He found his way.
I know this is not a checklist of how to do it, but I hope there is some encouragement in knowing that it can all work out if our priorities are firmly set before our eyes.”
We will have many times when we feel unqualified and in over our heads on this journey, but when everything else falls apart we can go back to basics. We can nurture relationships. That’s what mothers are brilliant at and always have been.
So when doubt or fear try to overtake us, we must make that the priority—it will set the course for the future success of both our homeschool and our entire family.
Have you seen the power of relationships open doors to learning in your family?
That letter about this woman’s son, and all the trials she has experienced in her life, made me cry tears of joy and relief. I completely agree that relationship building is the best way to foster a love of learning. We have been through many trials: ten miscarriages, living with inlaws who needed our help, being foster parents for three years(which aged me ten years worth), many health problems(which led me to becoming vegan), as well as financial issues. We have also had many more blessings than trials. Friends who have guided us on our homeschooling path, helping me find the way to go, great support of therapists for me and my children, giving birth to two amazing sons and adopting my cousins baby, as well as two of our wonderful foster children, who are miracles themselves, just helping all of the twenty-plus foster kids who came through our home find god and Jesus Christ, and all the while getting to experience the great joy of passing on my love of learning to my five children! I feel so very blest to live in this free country where we are allowed to homeschool our children. May it always be so.
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Blessings to you and yours. More blessings than trials – yes!
Wow Thanks so much, I really needed this. I was just thinking about quitting homeschooling but decided to check the internet before going to bed and found this on my Facebook feed. 🙂
Wow, Sara–that blesses me to know. Of course traditional schooling isn’t evil or anything, but know that you can do this if it’s right for you and be more than equipped (& have joy!) in the process. I need these reminders myself–all. the. time.
Me too, I have been feeling so hopeless about my homeschooling journey this last year. I love being with my kids, but got discouraged wondering if I am holding them back, by keeping them home. I really needed to read this!
Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: Canning on the run…
Thank you, thank you, and thank you for this article!! This is my third year homeschooling my children and I almost had a panic attack thinking about how I am solely responsible for their “school” learning! When children go to public school, they benefit from the different talents and interest of different teachers. How could I inspire them in areas that I don’t take an active interest in (like science)? Your post assured me that it will be ok and that they will learn in spite of me not because of me. I just need to focus on our family and God and teach them how to develop their own interests. It’s still an enormous task but one so worth the effort!
This is soooo true! I write in two ‘professional’ blogs, a slew of smaller ones, and have several book projects in the works. Add to that a work from home business and teaching community education classes – and – well – I’m crazy busy.
I have only one daughter (5yo) at home right now, but I make it a priority to stop what I am doing when she walks up. Stop to give her a hug and kiss as I’m walking by her looking at picture books on the couch. Listen to her, interact with her, and take her new and different places.
I try and do my best to nurture where I was not nurtured, to anticipate her needs and give her little surprises through normal days together.
It is those memories and that relationship that will endure through the years.
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Thanks for this series! It has been very helpful.
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It is very refreshing to start off a Monday morning reading such an inspiration! Thanks for the wonderful articles for homeschoolers. We have begun our journey into homeschooling high school for an only child. It always helps to be reminded of the simple life lessons that can make the biggest impact on a child. Blessings, Rhonda in Alabama
nurturing relationships is one of the reasons why we have chosen to homeschool. 🙂
This is so true!! I would love to know that I am doing everything right academically, but that’s so unrealistic it isn’t even worth examining. What I do know is that God taught us to love Him and to love others, and I’d better be nurturing relationships with the husband and kids He gave me.
My friend Vicki encouraged me recently with her post about “things our parents did RIGHT.” Hope it encourages someone else, too! http://7sistershomeschool.com/2011/07/08/5-things-our-parents-did-right/
thank you so much for sharing, I really needed this!
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Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz
Wonderful post, thank you for sharing this wisdom!
renee @ FIMBY
Love. But you can guess that already.
renee @ FIMBY’s latest post: Waldorf Inspired Homeschooling ~ An Interview
Thanks for the great post. Just today my son said, “Mom! Look at me.” He was right. I needed to look at him! And listen. And just be with him in that moment. It is all about that relationship.
And Debra thanks so much for sharing your experience. It is always wonderful to hear from seasoned homeschool moms!
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This was not part of my conscience until now. But of course I know this to be true! So thank you for making me more aware. Wonderful post! So, so true.
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Very well said! I always tell moms that their children might not remember the specific schoolwork that they taught them, but they WILL remember how they treated them….
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I read “Simple HomeSchool” posts each day and have been touched, taught, nurtured, educated, have found both joy and humor in other’s postings, and most of all have found inspiration and motivation to carry on. This post, however, is the first one to inspire me to the point of posting a response. To the author: thank you. Your words, your challenges, your triumph in overcoming are all of great consolation and motivation to me as a homeschooler currently dealing with some major health problems of my own and wondering- am I doing what is best for my kids right now considering that I am not the best me I can be. Thank you again for putting things back into the proper perspective for me.
Paula @Motherhood Outloud
I’ve noticed that the moments when I think, “I’m so glad we are homeschooling” are NOT times of great academic achievement : ) Instead, they are the times when my daughters are happily playing together or we go for our morning walk and the girls are making their baby brother laugh. Those moments are irreplaceable. Thanks for the reminder.
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I have SO appreciated your blog Jamie. I feel like I know you and I haven’t even met you. I’m planning to homeschool our 2 kids when the time presents itself, yet find myself “worrying” that I just won’t be able to do it. Like…I’m not good enough, patient enough, emotionally stable enough, organized enough etc etc etc. The list goes on. Somehow, all the dialogue I read affirms that no one really knows how to “do it” perfectly. I love all the ideas you address. It puts words to the things I feel in my heart. Thank you.
The experience of home school for my children was the greatest gift I ever got! Our relationships are still strong even as the edge towards their 30’s and 40’s. My daughter is going to home school her new little girl and I look forward to helping her and being part of the process! Public school tends to break the connection between parent and child and I find this very very destructive! Plus just what kind of moral standard does the teacher have who is taking your child’s trust? With the rise in reported abuse by teachers this makes me shudder!
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Thanks for posting; I just happened upon your site while cruising Pintrest for homeschool ideas. My eldest son has had trouble in school from pre-k all the way through to mid-second grade where he is now. For the third year in a row the administrators decided he needed to switch to a different teacher/class part way through the year. We have decided it’s probably best to homeschool him. We start tomorrow! I’m daunted but at the same time comforted. We’ll use the rest of this year to gauge how we do and then prayerfully decide if it’s what’s best for our others as well (I’m due with our 5th boy in May and the others are 6/kindergarten, nearly 5/pre-k, and 2). Thanks for such comforting and encouraging words as I face what I feel is the most daunting thing I’ve ever taken on (and I was in the Navy for nine years!).
Thanks for this wonderful reminder. We began homeschooling 3 years ago because we felt our son needed Young-5s and our school district didn’t offer it (budget cuts). Then, something unexpected happend…we bonded: me with my kids, and my kids with each other. They play, help and encourage each other. They work together to accomplish a goal. There’s very little arguing. I expected reading, writing, and arithmatic, I got happiness, joy, laughter, big glue-ey messes, legos everywhere, worksheets, storybooks, forts, cuddles, and kisses…I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I loved reading this post and comments from other readers. We’re considering homeschooling for our 4 year old and, although I’m terrified, I’m really excited. Thanks again everyone!
This was refreshing! We are struggling with ADHD and all out stubbornness in our family, as well as living overseas where we don’t speak the language. But we are abundantly… No- over abundantly blessed. I’m just curious how I can cut the cord, so to speak, with the curriculum and really learn to be with my children, not just teach them. Thanks so much for all you do!
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Emily, I would recommend you check out tjed.org and read their book Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by the same authors, Oliver & Rachel DeMille. They will help you get off the conveyor belt!
As reading this I could be more happy. A lot of time come in to my mind to quit or feel guilty because he didn’t have no friends at home. My husband tell me to not feel that way because it’s the best for our kid… I thank God I read this today!!!
I have totally enjoyed reading your post. It is very informative. I believe that we should all support our home schools. Thanks a lot for sharing.
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