Confessions From A Former Home-School Mom
Being a momma, I tend to wear a lot of different hats. At any given moment, I am a financial advisor to one child, a nurse to another and being a chef for a few more, all at the same time. It can be absolutely overwhelming, exhausting and frustrating sometimes and I’m sorely underpaid if I equated my earnings in dollar amounts. But, I don’t, so when I’m rewarded with hugs, kisses, I love you’s, you are the best mom ever and special little moments that only I could appreciate, I’ll take that any day. The one hat I think I’ve enjoyed the most and beat myself up the most over, was how much of an influence I’ve had in my children’s lives.
What feels like many moons ago, I home-schooled my second oldest son and my oldest daughter. It started with my oldest daughter, before she was headed for Kindergarten, she insisted she wanted to be home-schooled. I did a ton of research and after just a few weeks I ordered her curriculum. I think I was even more excited than my daughter! I got all giddy when I’d think about our days, reading, playing games, doing crafts, cooking and learning, the entire time spending quality time together. My second oldest son thought being home-schooled was an awesome idea and he jumped on board too! I couldn’t have been more excited or more happier!
Things started out great! I started a year early with Liz because I could. She was ready and I was more than ready to teach her. But the novelty of home-schooling wore off for both of us quick. I had visions of my daughter learning at her own pace, learning about what interested her and there being a no pressure atmosphere. But, it didn’t really turn out that way. Three years, three more children and a whole lot of tears later, we were all ready for Liz and Drew to head back to school.
My failure was not my children’s failure. I whole-heartedly believed that I was doing my children more harm than good. That the way I was teaching my children wasn’t good enough for them. That someone who had much more education than I did and was being hired and paid for by our school district was somehow more qualified to teach my children than I was. I was certain that in the entire three years that I home-schooled them, that they hadn’t learned anything at all and they were going to struggle the rest of their school years because I didn’t provide a good enough foundation for them.
Even after both of my children kept receiving A’s and B’s, I kept attributing that to the schools and teachers being more qualified than I was. I kept saying it was because my children were doing better in school than they were here at home. Even when Grace, who spent her first 3 years of life, listening to all our lessons, began reading and telling time at the age of 3, I never attributed any of that to the fact that my children actually were learning something from me.
Fast-forward a whole bunch of moons and now I have 5 of my 7 kiddos in school. My oldest has now graduated and is working full-time and my youngest will go to school next year. Emma, my 6-year-old, is in Kindergarten this year and she loves to learn and can’t wait to learn how to read. Sunday evening, Mr. Patriot and I were sitting at the kitchen table with Liz and Emma. Emmie was reading off her letters to Liz and Liz was helping her sound them out. Soon, Grace joined in and they were both helping Emmie together. I sat back, and listened as they sounded out their vowels together and pieced the words together. I listened as Grace taught Emmie that the letters “ow” together have different sounds and then she gave her little sister examples. I watched as they helped their little sister write her numbers and her letters and then words. It was an amazing moment to sit there and watch my three oldest daughters working together.
And then it hit me.
What they were teaching Emmie, was what I had taught them. Neither of my oldest girls learned their vowel sounds, their consonant sounds, their letters and numbers from some teacher in school, they learned those things from me, and they were passing what they learned to their little sister. It hit me in that moment, that I wasn’t a terrible teacher for my children, and that I had done a pretty darn good job teaching Liz. It hit me, that I had given a little piece of something to Liz and she was passing that along. It hit me that Grace, had picked up all of these things as well and was willing to pass what she had learned on. It hit me that just because a teacher may have spent money on an education doesn’t mean she or he is more qualified than I am. It hit me, that in reality, no one is more qualified than I, to teach my own children. But I think the biggest realization for me, was that no matter what, I have to keep trudging forward and pushing on. Even when my kids battle me on keeping inventory of what’s in the food pantry, or taking their bags with them in case they get lost, hungry, cold or thirsty. Even when they battle me about eating a home-cooked meal when they wanted pizza, or helping to plant the garden instead of hanging out with friends, or helping me home-can so we can have our pantry stocked with healthy food, they are learning and I am a bigger influence in my children’s lives than I ever imagined!