What is it Like to Homeschool? You Have No Idea

So the boy is going to be heading off to college in less than eight weeks. Yes, a college actually accepted him and even gave him money. Who would have thought?

What was I even thinking when we decided to homeschool eleven years ago? Did I know what I was getting into? I thought I did. I can be an obsessive researcher and believe in being prepared whenever possible. Just ask my family about my travel notebooks of maps, hotels reservations, and itineraries.

In the case of homeschooling, I remember sitting in an introduction to homeschooling type class given by three women at a local community college. It wasn’t too long before I realized that I knew more than they did about the rules and requirements for our state. I could have given a better answer about unschooling than they did. So yeah, I thought I was knew what I was doing.

Looking back, was I really prepared for homeschooling? Honestly, I have to say that I had no idea what I was in for. And I don’t mean that in a bad way or that the information I had was useless. I mean it in the way a childless couple will ask their friends who have children, how does life change once the baby comes along and the most succinct response is “you have no idea.”

It’s not meant to belittle all the preparation future parents do to prepare for the addition of children into their lives. Ultimately, it’s a good thing to know about vaccinations, development timelines, and how to childproof your house. But all that preparation can’t possibly explain what’s life going to be like once baby arrives.

I think homeschooling is a lot like becoming a parent. You really don’t know how much it will change you until you actually do it. And, of course, as in having children, the experience will be different for each parent and each child.

There are the inevitable realizations and adjustments to the reality that is instead of the one that you hoped for. You know what I’m talking about-the grand expectations and plans we have for our children that change as we realize that the children came into this world with their own gifts and needs.

The same thing happens in homeschooling. I thought there would be more trips to museums and plays and fewer baseball games. I thought there would be more curiosity and creative initiative and fewer baseball games.  I thought there would be more extended family interaction and, yes, fewer baseball games.

Where have we ended up? I’ve just thrown away four baseball scorebooks and I’m on my sixth portable chair. But there was more than just baseball. We have a small fortune in Teaching Company cds and Ethan has never bought a song for his Ipod. Audio books, yes, music-much to my husband’s bewilderment–no. There was Odyssey of the Mind and National History Day. Ethan quotes Bismarck, Shakespeare, and Bartimaeus in everyday conversation. And he’s going to play baseball in college.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned but it now it doesn’t seem possible to have happened any other way. The time we had together because of homeschooling allowed us to share experiences that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Homeschooling has been an unimaginable gift for our family in so many unexpected ways. I can tell you some of the benefits that it has provided us but it can in no way convey how much it changed our lives. So if you ask me what it is like to actually homeschool, all I can say is “you have no idea.”


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