Friday afternoon I sat at the kitchen table with my six year old. I hugged her close to my side, kissed the top of her head, and held back the hot tears that threatened to spill down my face. If homeschooling had taught me anything, it had taught me what a roller coaster ride it can be to teach your own child. This wasn’t the first time I had cried, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Just like parenting period, teaching your own child at home has ups, downs, and surprises you never imagined would occur.
While I’m no homeschooling expert, and I certainly have much more to learn, looking back on the past three years I am amazed at what I have discovered. I never knew it could be so hard, but I also never knew it could be so rewarding. I can easily recall when I realized I would have to start each school day with prayer, not just for my daughter to enjoy herself, but also so that I could become more patient. It was my first experience with the torture that is sounding out phonics, and trying to figure out how to teach young children of different ages who required my assistance while also tending to a baby had made the last year and a half quite the challenge. Some days ended with me feeling like I was a failure, and I worried if I was giving my children what they needed most.
Was I really the kind of teacher my children deserved?
I can recall a particularly difficult day a few months ago, and it was one of those days where my first grader was just not into it. Being a perfectionalist (she comes by it naturally, bless her) my six year old found it very bothersome that she had not mastered reading.
“Why doesn’t God just make you so you already know how to read?!” She had asked me in frustration.
I had answered, “I think God knows there’s some things we have to work our way through so we’ll learn better what He’s trying to show us.”
This truth didn’t just relate to her, but it also went for me. God was teaching me through this whole process too. Yet despite this recognition the day had continued to slide towards frustration, and when we were both at a wall I decided to call it a day, but not before ending us in prayer. Even though I felt like we were both close to tears I called out to the Lord in thanksgiving.
“Thank you, Lord,” I had prayed earnestly. “Thank you that we have this. Thank you that we have this time together. I know that time is fleeting, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend our day together learning alongside one another.”
Because that was the truth of it. It was hard. Finding my way through the challenges of a newborn, and then later a toddler who refused to nap. Figuring out the best way to teach my precocious preschooler while also discovering the rhythm required for my six year old. Committing myself to lesson plans, but not being so stringent that they missed out on just being little kids. It required balance, a whole lot of patience, and strength that I had never tapped into before. I also knew I was just on the beginning leg of this journey, and new challenges would emerge as we went along. Yet despite the difficulties, at the end of the day it was worth it to me.
It was worth it to have them present. It was worth it to me when we sat down together and I read to them about how to love the Lord with all their heart. It was worth it when I saw the twinkle of excitement in their eyes over learning something new, and the snuggles in between were really the best. We didn’t have to worry about being late. We didn’t have to concern ourselves with what name-brand of clothing we wore. We usually did school in pajamas. Some days we followed the curriculum to the letter, but other days we counted and measured while we cooked, discovered science on walks outdoors, and many days the teacher learned from her students, cause that’s how God works.
Friday afternoon as I sat at the kitchen table with my six year old I knew that the decision to homeschool was perfect for us. I might have had my moments where I gritted my teeth, but at that moment as I kissed her head proudly I couldn’t be happier. She was reading, and not just sounding out the letters painfully. She was really reading to me, and I guess the reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I had done that! I had taught my child to read. It had started with the letter ‘A,’ and it had gone on from there. Many days I had wondered if she would ever have it click, and as I sat stunned in the aftermath of it I knew we could do anything. Together we could.
Many years lay ahead of us. There would be other challenges, two girls behind her, and probably plenty more tears to follow. But then there would be the smiles, the laughter, the small successes, the time spent together in love. God had led me to this place, and I knew He would see me through it. For our family this was the right thing, the perfect thing, and I was up for the challenge!
But first, I could handle some summer break.