This post is from contributor, Jacinda Vandenberg
One of the greatest blessings I received from my parents was the gift of a home education. I never truly understood the kind of sacrifices they made (and to a large degree, still don’t) until we started down the same path and officially began homeschooling our oldest last year.
My parents didn’t choose to homeschool because it was cheaper than private school but better than public.
They didn’t homeschool because my mom had a teaching degree (she doesn’t), or a supernatural degree of patience (she’ll be the first to tell you she doesn’t have that either).
They didn’t homeschool because they had six well-behaved, obedient, brilliant children who understood a concept the first time it was taught (I assure you this was not the case).
No, they didn’t homeschool us because it was easy.
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I remember a particularly difficult period, somewhere around the time Mom was teaching five different grade levels while juggling the housework and caring for my aging grandparents. She reached her breaking point and it was either send us to school or get some extra help.
We never went to school.
As difficult as things were, my parents knew in their hearts that school wasn’t the place they wanted us to be. They kept on keeping on because they believed God, who called them to this task, would give them the grace to accomplish it.
At the time, Bob Jones University had just come out with their satellite schooling. For an eclectic, Charlotte Mason style homeschooler, the transition was unnatural for Mom. But we grew accustomed to programming the VCR to record our lessons and getting as close as possible to a school setting without actually going to school.
Looking back, Mom says HomeSat was a life-saver. It wasn’t a choice she necessarily wanted to make, but it kept us home and we have no regrets. We used BJU for three years ’til Mom found her footing again, regained her passion and vision, and went back to her favored way of teaching: tailoring the curriculum to our individual strengths and learning styles instead of using a traditional, one-size-fits-all approach.
Their decision,when push came to shove, to keep us home gave me a valuable education on homeschooling I’ll never forget and pray will never take for granted.
I learned that:
*If God calls you to it, He’ll see you through it. If my parents had started homeschooling for financial reasons, or because it seemed like a nice idea at the time, or because they realized it was an academically advantageous method of education, it would have been easy to give up when the stakes got too high. However, they homeschooled out of a personal, biblical conviction and their reliance on God’s grace, and trust in His promise to be faithful, was the encouragement they needed to keep on keeping on.
*Homeschooling is hard. Don’t kid yourself–signing on for the long-haul is the most challenging thing you will ever do; fortunately, it’s also the most rewarding. Money, time, your own interests–homeschooling requires a lifestyle of servitude in order to work. You will be exposed to a nauseating amount of sin in your children and yourself. You may be misunderstood, have your motives judged, your children inspected, and your feelings hurt by those who don’t share your vision.
*At some point, you will want to quit or believe you’re ruining your child if you don’t. This is normal. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure of a homeschooling mom. It means you are a human being who needs God’s grace to get you through. Homeschoolers have a propensity to particular idols and God can use various trials to keep us from boasting in our own abilities. With His methods of keeping us humble, He also promises that those who ask for grace and wisdom will receive it in liberal measure (Matthew 7:7; James 1:5).
*It’s okay to get help. Who do you think you are? Super Woman? Mom used a traditional, school-approved, one-size-fits-all curriculum for three years and had the neighbor lady come every two weeks to clean the house. Perhaps this wasn’t her ideal, but we never thought any less of her for it. In fact, I admire her more for making sacrifices that required a greater degree of selflessness on her part than opting to send us to school so she could get her life back.
*Homeschooling is what you make it. I don’t even remember Mom hitting her breaking point. I learned about it years later when I was wrapping up high school. I asked her why we had switched to satellite school for a while and she told me the whole story. “Really? You were that close to sending us to school?!” I remember asking. Mom said it’s God’s mercy children tend to be as forgiving as they are.
I remember Dad taking Mondays off work, switching to video school, looking forward to the day the “cleaning lady” came (she always brought us candy), and cutting back on some extra-curricular activities (which meant we had more time to play outside on our 80-acre farm).
I remember Mom being tired.
I remember waking up every morning to find her in the armchair, marking up her little black Bible. She wore out the edges and its clasp. One day, I look forward to flipping through those dog-eared pages and reading the notes she scribbled in the margins.
I remember taking a standardized test to make sure we were “on par,” and witnessing her relief when the results came in and she discovered she worried for nothing.
I remember her attending homeschool conventions and coming back refreshed and renewed.
I remember her loving her summers “off.”
We knew we were loved. We knew homeschooling was a tremendous sacrifice. We reaped the rewards of their sacrifice and I knew that one day, I wanted to homeschool my children too.
Here we are, doing just that for the same reasons, with the same convictions, strengthened by the same God.
Some people tell us, “Oh, you’re just homeschooling because your parents homeschooled,” as if that’s a bad thing.
Is it? Should we not raise our children in the same way we desire them to raise theirs?
Few things are more honorable than standing on the shoulders of those who sacrificed their time, their money, their life for their children.
We all must pick our battles, and homeschooling? It’s a hill worth dying on.
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