I suppose a life that never brought changes would be boring, but I could do without the heartache and loss that often accompanies it. When you choose to homeschool, you are literally living life with your kids. They see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We also learn to show grace to one another and to grow together on many issues. Whatever life brings you, read on to learn how I have homeschooled 15 years and continued homeschooling through life changes.
This post was on my heart due to the crazy year our family has gone through. It’s been a year of hurt, loss, betrayal, and two moves. There have been moments of wanting to curl up in fetal position and make the world go away, but alas, I’m a homeschool mom! I not only feel the need to show faith and trust in God’s promises, but to lead my daughter to do the same. Some days I succeed, other days I fail. I’m sure you have the same experience in parenting.
Homeschooling Through Adoption
I can speak clearly on adjusting to a new child through adoption because in 2012 I lived it. My boys were 9 and 11 when we all made the trip around the world to China. We wanted to take the boys because we had just studied ancient China, so we started our trip with a two day tour of Beijing! Homeschoolers are big on field trips and you can’t beat that! As expected, once we got Mia, it was stressful and hard. I didn’t expect how hard it would be once we got home. I gave myself grace and knew we would need some time off, so we didn’t start school that year until October. But that’s ok, because being flexible is part of the beauty of homeschooling.
I needed that month. She wouldn’t sleep. She screamed. I was exhausted because she only wanted me. You can see the empty, sad look on her face in this picture. I struggled with so much guilt and doubt. But October rolled around and I couldn’t put off school forever. I made Mia up a blanket in the floor so she could be right there with us and gave her several toys to play with. I made up big tubs with dried beans and spoons, cups, etc. where she could “cook.” This was a great arrangement and our school mornings actually started to develop a routine.
I quickly discovered this little girl was a genius! She loved listening to Bible and history I did with the boys and it didn’t take long to begin official “preschool” with her. One thing that is so precious about homeschooling is that the younger children learn right alongside the older ones as they are in the vicinity. They are taking it in!
Mia was 2 when we brought her home- this may look different for you depending on the age of the child you adopt. The main thing is to have them near-it can cause loneliness and a lack of bonding if they aren’t right there with you. Make them part of the family and all the activities you do with the other kids. They will fit right in in no time! Hang in there, mama. This is a life change with many nuances but your other kids can learn to love well, to give of their time to help, and to even show grace as you struggle with many crazy emotions.
Homeschooling Through a Birth
OK, I had to ask a friend on this one! 🙂 When I began homeschooling, we were finished having babies, so I asked a dear friend of seven who is a fabulous mother and homeschool mom! The beauty of having a baby is that you have nine months to plan. It’s not like a big surprise happens and you suddenly welcome another family member. Use your pregnancy to plan out how school will look in advance. School through the summer if needed to get ahead so you can all enjoy the baby when he makes his arrival.
One piece of advice that can go for ALL of us, homeschooler or not, bringing home a new baby or not: Don’t do for a child anything they can do for themselves! I know we love to feel needed, but mama, you can wear yourself out serving everyone when they need to grow in maturity and responsibility themselves. The more your kids can do for themselves, no matter their ages, the more time you can devote to the youngest members of your family.
Having a baby is a wonderful opportunity for older kids to pitch in and help younger kids. This can be in daily activities or even school work. Loving and caring for the new baby is all part of children growing closer as siblings and growing in maturity. Give them all the chances you can to teach independence, in chores, as well as school work. When a new baby comes on the scene, your family unit will continue to run like a well-oiled machine because your kids are able!
Homeschooling Through a Move
We began our homeschool journey in 2008. Things were going along really well- I took so much delight in being with my little boys every day! We had so much fun and school was a success. I could actually do this! In 2011 we moved out of state. Let me tell you, unless you’re a military family and used to moving, nothing derails your routine and emotions quite like a move! As well as homeschooling was going, I started to doubt what I was doing. My emotions were everywhere. I had a fleeting moment of considering sending the boys to public school. I’m so glad I once again gave myself grace and time.
Mama, I encourage you to do the same. Be gentle on yourself if you experience a move, especially if it’s a distance away or taking you away from extended family. We took a few weeks to get settled, and I felt more grounded and ready to get back to school. Your kids are resilient- give them tasks to help with unpacking no matter their ages. Let them explore the area around your new home even if it’s just a small yard. Learn about some fun and free field trips you can go on in your new area. Take the time you need to get settled and remember that school can wait. Any schedule is fine as long as it works for your family.
Homeschooling Through a Loss
Grief. It’s an absolutely painful emotion that sweeps over you like giant waves and leaves you incapacitated. Keeping yourself together is sometimes impossible, yet when you homeschool, it’s hard to find a space to get alone and let the tears flow. When I lost my mom in 2019 I had to realize I wasn’t Superwoman. I wasn’t supposed to be a robot that went about my day and our schooling like everything was fine. I wasn’t fine. I was the only child and my mom was my best friend.
The things I learned from this time that will hopefully help you in a season of grief are:
- Don’t grieve alone– I was in a strange situation in that I was not only an only child, but my parents were divorced. I had no one that truly understood my feelings and pain. I sought the help of a grief counselor. Don’t try to carry the load of grief alone. If you have someone in your family that can completely identify with the relationship and your pain, spend time with them and share your heart. If you don’t have that person, find a counselor or even a trusted friend you can pour out your heart and tears to.
- Don’t be embarrassed by your grief– I am a private cryer- I learned that about myself for sure during this time. You may want to cry in private or you may need a hug as you cry, but don’t be embarrassed by your tears. I would tell my kids, “I need to have a cry session and I’ll be right back!” Grief is a natural emotion and one we can help our kids be comfortable with if you are transparent with your struggles.
- Do things in your own timing– Unlike with having a baby, you can’t plan ahead for a loss. Again, be gentle with yourself! All of your daily to-do’s will get done in time. The house won’t fall apart. Adjust schooling if needed. Give educational activities for your kids to do or topics for them to research. No one is going to fail a grade because you need time to grieve. I promise. School will wait- go at your own speed as you get back into the swing of things.
Homeschooling Through Kids Leaving Home
I’ve got to be honest- even though we raise our kids to one day leave and be independent, it’s a form of loss that can also cause grief. Especially as homeschool moms, who have our kids’ presence all day, there is a void in the home when that child leaves. I had a double-whammy that hit me hard. My oldest son was 20 and had been working full-time, so was ready to move out and be independent. My second son was leaving for college at the same time. They both left home within just a few months of each other. OUCH. It was a hard season. I missed my oldest banging on his drums and my younger son practicing his saxophone. It was odd just having three of us at the dinner table. But just like with all change, we do slowly adapt to our new normal. Doing school with one kid became very easy! Whether you have one left or a whole house full, you continue on as you know how. I can’t answer yet to an empty nest thankfully! I’m not ready to give that up, but just as God gave me the grace to let each child go, I know He will supply me with what I need when that time comes.
There are many painful life experiences that I haven’t experienced myself, so therefore aren’t included here. However, you can hopefully see the general theme of losing perfectionism and being gentle on yourself. You aren’t doing school at home where you have to follow a 180 day, Monday through Friday routine. Live life to the full, and take advantage of the fact that even during life’s sorrows and trials, you can be an example of love and grace to your kids.