I have dreamed of homeschooling for years.
For at least 10 of the past 12 years of my marriage, my husband and I knew we would homeschool our children. Yes, even when I was teaching high school English at a local public school, I knew I would one day teach my own babies.
As a certified teacher, I never worried about the academic side of homeschooling. My husband says I often overestimate my ability to handle challenges, and I think he’s pretty right about that. But I knew we would go through the grammar rules and math facts together, so even if we homeschool all the way through high school, I thought even calculus might be manageable. After all, we would be building on those math facts one year at a time, together.
Somehow, when I pictured homeschooling, I think I had this picture in my mind of my children and I, all huddled around the table in the school room playing fun academic games, exploring history together, and reading good books aloud to each other.
Forget the fact that I don’t even have a school room, this was the picture in my head. We would have blissful days of school time, finding opportunities to learn throughout the day, doing small and big tasks together around the house. In my vision, I think we were even singing Kumbaya.
You know what I didn’t count on when I started homeschooling?
I didn’t count on motherhood. Real. Life. Motherhood.
I didn’t count on the dirty floors that would still have to be mopped once I added school time to our day. I didn’t count on a toddler who decided he was ready to potty train a day before we started our homeschool year. I didn’t count on clingy babies with ear infections.
I forgot that somehow, errands would need to be run. Cars don’t register themselves and toilets don’t clean themselves.
Mommies do get sick. So do kids. In our first year of homeschooling, we had weeks where three of the five work days were spent at a doctor’s office. School time was hard to come by.
And yet they learned. And so did I.
I learned to juggle. I learned to cut back on nonessential activities and curriculum. I learned to say no. I learned that messy floors and cluttered closets will happen. I had to lower my standards for the sake of my sanity and my children’s happiness.
As I reflect on our first real year of homeschooling, I can look back and see academic progress in each of my children, even though I was only earnestly teaching my oldest. My littlest guys were simply sponges, learning the months of the year song because they heard big sister singing it.
I also learned to do school informally. My daughter can practice reading to me while I’m working on dinner. In the same way that in the preschool years, I teach colors, letters, and numbers everywhere we go, turning a grocery trip into a letter hunt, we can make anything an extension of our school day.
Real life motherhood.
Yes, at times it seems to get in the way of learning, but then other times, I think it’s where the real learning happens.
They see the value of money when we go shopping together. They learn self control when mommy chooses to keep her patience this time instead of blowing it again. They see Christ in me when I rely on Him to get me through a difficult day.
Maybe that lesson is far more important than singing Kumbaya in blissful moments of homeschool perfection anyway.