Homeschooling isn’t always fun and games and giggles; sometimes it is just downright difficult—especially if the student isn’t particularly thrilled to be homeschooling.
It is not our job as parents to make our children happy. It’s our job to raise them as God has called us to, even if it means making the unpopular decisions, such as Yes, you have to brush your teeth, or No, I think you’ve had enough cake for tonight, or … Yes, we are continuing home education. Sometimes, however, weariness wins out and we get discouraged or we second-guess ourselves.
It was important to me that you hear from a homeschool graduate who wasn’t always “on board” with her family’s decision. In fact, when guest columnist Rachel Ramey was asked to write a section in a been-there-done-that book on home education, her chapter was entitled, “I Hated Homeschool.” [Her homeschool-speaker/author/group-leader mom groaned.]
Guest author Rachel Ramey is a stay-at-home wife* and (second-generation) homeschooling mama and at the time she wrote this, she was mom to three young girls (ranging from 3 to 11) and one sweet baby boy. Today she is mom of five and has authored several books for homemakers and/or homeschoolers, and she blogs here at Titus2Homemaker. This article is adapted from her chapter in See, I Told Me So!, compiled by Tammy Cardwell, and is presented as she originally wrote it for a newsletter almost ten years ago, although her oldest homeschooled child is now in her 20s and will soon be married!
I Hated Homeschooling
by Rachel Bentley Ramey
I am a second generation homeschooler. After a false start in homeschooling in third grade, I was homeschooled for middle school and high school and—despite the title of this newsletter—I homeschool my own children now. Michael and I have been married for almost 14 years and have four children who constantly amaze us!
Folks are often curious about my experience as a homeschooled student, so I’ve compiled a few of the most commonly asked questions and my responses, and I hope these will be an encouragement to you on your homeschooling journey.
“Did you like homeschooling?”
No. I had been planning all the things I was going to do when I got to middle school—yearbook staff, chorus, and so forth—and then Mom and Dad took me out of school and I didn’t get to do any of it. (Remember, this was more than 20 years ago. Now, most areas have co-ops offering these sorts of things; back then, Mom had to start our support group, with another mom.) I was constantly doing schoolwork—or so it seemed! Most of all, I did not want to be stuck at home all day with my mother and my little sisters.
My family did not have my heart; my friends did. Though I had a better-than-average relationship with my parents, I had been in government school for six years, spending more time with my friends than with my family. I had become peer dependent, and I had “learned” that younger siblings were nothing more than a nuisance. Homeschooling—and all the family time that came with it—allowed my mom to change that.
“Did you ever say that you would never homeschool your children?”
Yes, yes, yes! As a young teen, I believed that homeschooling was simply a new form of torture! I made Mom’s life so miserable that, had her intention been only to torment me, it would not have been worth it. I remember standing at the top of the stairs yelling, “I hate being stuck in this house! I hate homeschooling! I am never doing this to my children!”
Today I am gladly eating those words. My husband and I would not consider any other method of schooling for our children. We want the opportunity to bind their hearts to ours as they grow up. We want to teach them according to our worldview and not somebody else’s. We want to give them opportunities to learn what they, individually, need to learn in order to best fill the roles God has designed for them.
“What are you doing differently with your children?”
I have been able to homeschool from the very beginning, and we started with as much structure as Mom ended with—over the years, as Mom grew more comfortable, her “style” relaxed to reflect less of a school-at-home mindset and more of a learning lifestyle.
We were able to begin more “relaxed” in our schooling than my parents were because I had enough years under my belt to get past the “we have to do school at home” thinking, and to not worry about whether they end up with “gaps” in their education. (On the gap issue: Everyone has learning gaps! No one knows everything. We simply get to decide which skills, content, and experiences are priorities for our children.)
“What did your parents do right?”
Mom could have put me back in school, deciding that it was much too wearying to fight with me every day. She could have given in to the friends and family who insisted that she was too hard on us, that we weren’t going to be “socialized” enough, and that one needs a teaching degree in order to teach effectively. If she had, I would never have learned the things about home and family that my homeschool education provided. (While I did get a well-rounded, college-preparatory, scholarship-worthy education, the non-traditional courses seem to have served me most practically as a wife and mother.)
They taught me how to learn and encouraged a passion to learn.
Another important skill I learned was how to study independently. My family can tell you that I still read a lot, and I have learned a great deal about subjects—like natural health—that I wouldn’t have even known to study during my high school years if it weren’t for a homeschool program tailored to my needs and passions, and parents who encouraged lifelong learning. Thanks to my desire to learn and my knowledge of how to learn, I have been able to capitalize on these interests since they’ve arisen.
But most important: They invested in me.
If my mom had given up, she would never have drawn my heart back to herself; I would still have closer ties to my friends than to her. As it is, Mom’s my best “girlfriend” (and now that my sisters are older, we’re all very close friends, as well). When I need to talk, I call Mom. When I have a question, I call Mom. When I’m excited about something and want to share the news, I call Mom.
Today I am a stay-at-home wife*, homeschooling mom of four [see intro above for update], author of a blog and other tools to encourage other women on this journey, in the spirit of Titus 2. I probably wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for homeschooling—it also helped teach me perseverance.
As one who hated being homeschooled, I offer this advice to you who are parents of the same: Don’t give up. Do “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season [you] shall reap if [you] do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)
Homeschooling wasn’t what I wanted, but it was what I needed. Praise the Lord for parents who knew the difference!
* Being a stay-at-home wife/mom was her deliberate personal choice; she also attained a certification and undergrad degree in alternative medicine and hopes to continue pursuing her master’s degree in naturopathic medicine.
You may also like:
- What about Socialization?
- Making the Most of the Middle School Years
- Cultivating the Habit of Kindness
- You Aren’t in This Alone
- A Day in Our Homeschool
Portions of this post are excerpted from a newsletter by this author previously published at www.hslda.org.