Dear Younger Me,
You are sitting on the couch right now browsing curriculum catalogs and researching learning styles. And you are FREAKING.OUT. Not on the outside of course, but on the inside you are panicking. Before you had children you just knew that your child would get the public school education you "missed" out on. You even moved to be in a school district that was supposed to be fantastic, and maybe it was. However, as your children grew you realized that you really didn't miss out on anything worth having, but as K5 for Brianna inched closer, you also realized that you couldn't bear the thought of being one of those moms standing in tears watching as this child who has been so fought for, so wanted, this child who was an extension of you, was sent away to someone else for 8 hours a day to be taught and trained. Even private school was out. So you decided to give homeschooling a trial run.
I am here today to tell you that the trial run never ended. You did it. You made it past those first few years when you were most likely to quit. As a result you have been witness to some of the most joyful moments as well as those most difficult ones in your children's lives. You have taught them to read and to count. They have learned about space and phonics, Ancient and American history and botany. Your children, who by the way, now number 3, are bright, polite and pleasant to be around. They speak respectfully to adults, make friends where ever they go and are learning at a pace you can hardly keep up with! Both Brianna and Keira are avid readers and eat up classic literature like it is cake. Your youngest, Luke, is a little more reluctant, but he is also learning and adores to add sums on his fingers!
Your kids will make friends! They will, I promise. They will become part of a community that you help start! You will get to be a part of planning parties, play dates and even field day! Your children will have friends ranging from 2 years all the way up to adult! Some of their favorite people right now are young adults! Teens that love to be around the little ones will be vital in helping your child see what young adults should act like. They will participate in sports and volunteer work and one day they will get to participate in prom and even a formal graduation service! All those things that everyone is telling you they will miss out on...well, let's just say that homeschooling is an oxymoron.
That is not to say there weren't rough days. Yes, those were there too. There were days when you were sure that you wanted to give up, that you weren't doing a good enough job, that the task seemed impossible. You still have them, even this far in, but what you have gained is wisdom, conviction and a burning desire to see your children succeed. What started out as just a deep need to not be apart, is now a strong unquenchable commitment to teaching and training your child not only in academics, but in the admonition of the Lord. And oh, how you have needed His grace during the days that seemed they would never end. If not for that unfailing grace, the tears that sometimes seemed to flow for days would have never stopped. But by this grace, you have come to see that your children are not only your God-given responsibility to raise, but that they are a joy beyond measure and you would not want to trade even the bad days. I want to tell you all of this because I know how hard and impossible it will seem at times. I know that for every success there will be a struggle, but that you will make it through and you will reap rewards that you could never have imagined.
I also want to tell you to take a step back and relax! You will come to a place where you recognize that pushing 4 hours of formal work on a pre-k aged child is not helpful. When you realize that learning is not something found in a book, your entire homeschooling experience will change and while book learning will still be very much a part of your day, you will also learn to enjoy those more "organic" moments. You will spend days without ever opening a math book and that is OK! Those walks in the park discovering bugs or days playing store, they are learning too. Take advantage of quiet times, sit on the couch and read together. Oh, your children will enjoy that so much! Go play in the sandbox when the weather is nice and plant gardens together. Take spontaneous trips to the library and let them pick out 30 books, all on minerals and crystals, you know they will never read. Play lego for hours and put the art supplies in a place they can access at any time. Don't fret, two are now advanced readers and the third, well he is only 4. There will be plenty of time for math books and formal science. Right now, enjoy your children.
So put the curriculum catalogs down, step away from the printer and just be with your children. Enjoy these precious younger years that fly by faster than you could have ever imagined and know, that you can do it and you can do it better than a stranger in a class room can. No one knows your children like you do, no one cares for your children or is willing to fight for them the way you do and that mama, makes all the difference.
Your 4 years in the future self,