My youngest child is 20, so the homeschooling years are behind me. Looking back, I have very few regrets. I know that’s hard to believe, but honestly, I have few regrets.
My memories are sweet, even bittersweet these days because I am still in transition, trying to get used to life without my three children forging their lives around me. Now I just hear about it, if they remember to tell me!
As I look back, these are the things I’m glad we did:
1. We valued each child’s uniqueness. Just because Meg could draw didn’t mean I insisted Melissa do the same thing. Peter had his nose in a book all the time, but I didn’t expect the girls to be like him.
2. We kept the stress level low. If something was hard or uninteresting, we’d leave it for another day or tackle it a different way.
3. We read aloud. Almost every bedtime was spent listening to a chapter in a book. We all look back on those stories and realize we have a common history, a common vocabulary.
4. We talked to each other, A LOT! I was always interested in what they were thinking and why. Or I’d ask them to explain what they were doing. As they got older, we’d talk about the news and why certain things were happening. Everyone’s opinion and perspective was valuable.
5. I watched them. Nothing profound. Nothing complicated. I simply watched and listened. This gave me insight into what they enjoyed and how they learned.
6. We valued relationship. I wanted the kids to be friends, to stick together when they grew up, and to take care of me when I’m old. Ha! But really, family is forever, and no school activity was so important that it should kill our relationships.
7. We laughed a lot. I think we have Missa to thank for that. She was always saying funny things or getting into silly situations.
8. I gave them space. I tried not to hover. Since we were together all the time, I liked to fade into the background when friends were over or we were on a field trip…keeping an eye on them, secret-agent-style.
9. We spent money on developing their talents. This was my least favorite thing to do…I hate spending money, but it was worth it. One year I drove an hour each way and paid big membership fees for Missa to play hockey. As we all know, sports for junior high aged homeschoolers is not an easy thing to find. But I reminded myself that the younger you learn a skill, the better you can get. For Meg it was sitting for hours in the car waiting for rehearsals to end. For Peter it was sending him to film camp in high school.
10. I journaled. Your child will never be this age again. No matter how old they are today, tomorrow they will be a day older. Capture your memories, record the things they say, document their growth.
When I was a child, I saw a TV production of the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. One scene profoundly influenced me. Emily came back from the grave to visit her home on her 12th birthday. She was distressed to see how busy everyone was:
“Oh, Mama, look at me one minute as though you really saw me…Let’s really look at one another!…I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize…Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?”
I wanted to “really see” those little people in my life and be thankful for the ordinary blessing of being together.
And looking back, I think I did.
Place yourself 10 years in the future. What will you want to say about your homeschooling years then?
What a blessing! We are doing most of what you listed. I hope I have few, if any, regrets, too.
Anne’s latest post: Persistence Pays Off
You have a beautiful family! Thank you for your insight, as someone who’s completed the homeschooling process. I pray my children will have such fond memories, as well.
Shelly’s latest post: Happy Birthday to My Mother
Thank you. What a perfect reminded today, as we work through another homeschool day knee deep in winter. I playedthe role of Emily in “Our Town” and now thinking about it can’t believe I was able to say that line without bursting into tears! Certainly couldn’t now some 25 years later with 3 kids of my own!
This is beautiful. As a family just beginning the homeschool journey, thank you for this reminder. I think I should hang that “Our Town” quote on our wall for the future.:)
It is so good to hear voices from further down the path. Thank you for sharing yours.
sheila’s latest post: Links and Other Thinks: February 2014
I homeschooled my children every year until college. When I started there were not many people doing it and I was scared I was going to mess my kids up. I want to tell you that they turned out great!!!!!!!! If I could go back and change something I would have not worried so much. Just being there for your kids and really loving them is greatest gift you can give them!
I so want to be able to look back as you do. Thank you for the way you have encouraged me and my family from the very beginning! You all are the real deal!!! 🙂
Thank you so much for this post. I am a nanny homeschooling mom (4 months now) and I doubt myself constantly and feel overwhelmed often. But, in my heart, I know that I’m doing the right thing. I appreciate your advice. I’m going to read your words of wisdom once a week.
As much as I love having my three boys home, our days can seem hurried and crammed full. Thank you for the reminder to savor our time, to live the moments together. I want to really SEE them each for they truly are.
Laura Grace Weldon
Spot on. This is a wonderful piece and an important perspective. Sharing!
As a Mom who is in her first year home educating, thank you. Simply thank you !
Thank you for sharing your story!
I have a question, why did you just teach a year in public schools?