My firstborn son is graduating from our homeschool this spring. While I trust he will look back on his years of home education with joy, that’s a story he will, God willing, share himself one day.
But there’s a sneaky part of homeschooling you may not expect if you’re just getting started: it’s not just the kids who are learning something in our homeschool!
As we approach our son’s graduation, it’s given me time to reflect on how God has used homeschooling in my own life. I’ve learned so many things over the past 12 years! (Well, closer to 18 if you start quibbling about grades and lifelong learning and kids who ask for reading lessons by age 3…but I digress)
I’ll warn you ahead of time, this list does not include homeschool curriculum or planning tips. It’s not going to tell you how to write a transcript or get your kid into college. It’s not going to give my tips for helping siblings to always get along (but if you find that out, let me in on the secret, mkay?)
Instead, I’d like to share 3 things that have fundamentally transformed my own heart as a homeschooling mom.
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Family devotions sets the tone for the homeschool family
Is it strange to see family devotions included in a list of things I’ve learned as the mom of a homeschool graduate?
After all, it usually occurs in the evening after school hours, and I’ve never listed it on a transcript or homeschool curriculum planning page.
Yet when we realize just how intertwined homeschooling is with family life, it begins to make more sense.
One of the great joys of home education, after all, is that there really is no great divide between “school” and “life.” We’re constantly learning and making connections across subjects and experiences, whether it’s inside a textbook or while crammed together in the van for family road trips.
Our family has never seen Bible as a subject to be tacked on to the day or sprinkled around a worksheet to baptize an otherwise secular topic. Instead, we see that everything we learn is under the Lordship of Christ. This is His World and we are learning His Truth no matter what we’re studying.
Crowning our days with family devotions has lived out this idea in an immensely practical way, embodying our theoretical philosophy. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Thus, all our academic pursuits are rooted in wonder and worship.
There were times early on when I occasionally wondered if we were being too intense about this whole family worship thing. After all, we’ve even been known to rearrange multiple schedules to make sure we fit it into our day.
Yet when I see my teen pursuing his own relationship with the Lord, I am more than ever convinced that keeping our family devotions as the absolute foundation of our family life is what grounded us all in truth. They became the core around which our family relationships have revolved.
In fact, when I think of our oldest child moving into adulthood, I think the place I may miss him the most will be in the living room while we worship together as a family.
Family worship really has been the single thing that has most kept all of us connected during the changing seasons of parenting and family life.
Starting the day together with truth and beauty really is worth it
The first few years of our homeschooling journey, I struggled to fit my ideals into our daily reality. There were all these beautiful poems I wanted us to recite together, lengthy Scripture passages I wanted us to memorize, and read alouds I wanted to share.
But how to fit that in when we were often already more than a little grumpy by lunch time?!
Those early days with all of us around the table reciting “Death Be Not Proud” and “Ozymandias” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay” are some of the most precious memories I carry in my heart from our years of homeschooling!
While my teen’s work and dual enrollment schedules (not to mention his strange obsession with sleep. ahem.) mean we haven’t usually seen him for Morning Time during his senior year, it only serves to reinforce in my own heart how precious those times together in all the previous years really were!
Even now there are inside jokes and Shakespearean quips we exchange in the midst of ordinary life. I have these visions of future family reunions in my living room with kids and grandkids laughing as we recite “Casey at the Bat” or a bit of “Much Ado About Nothing” together. Can we make that happen, please, kids?
The beautiful ideas we’ve shared over the past decade have mattered. They’ve formed our affections and trained our mind, and beyond that they’ve given us a shared family culture and deepened our relationships.
Of all the homeschooling decisions I’ve made, starting our days gathering together around good books, beautiful poetry, and God’s Word may be the best.
Homeschooling has been as much about my own sanctification as it’s been about my kids’ education
We often hear homeschool mamas say that they’ve learned more while homeschooling than they ever did in their own school years.
As a second-generation homeschooler, I came into this homeschool endeavor full of confidence and bravado.
I had received a glorious academic education, and I was looking forward to reviewing and revisiting similar glories with my own children. While avoiding all the mistakes made by past generations, obviously.
I really didn’t think I had that much to learn.
God in His mercy loved me too much to leave me in that perilous position of arrogance. Homeschooling has been full of joy and glory, yes, but it’s been equally full of heartbreak, humiliation, and struggle.
I really wish humiliation wasn’t so frequently a step along the journey towards humility, but it seems my hard heart needs brokenness.
Would I still have chosen to homeschool if I had known how often a sword would pierce my own soul?
Oh, yes, indeed! Coming face to face with my own daily need for Jesus, the toppling of idols of self-sufficiency… these have been painful, yes, but the temporary suffering pales in comparison to the eternal weight of glory!
Homeschooling has pushed me to my knees and forced me to unclench fists that so desperately want to hold on to my own plans and vision for the way things ought to go. It’s reminded me to find my identity in Christ alone.
Our homeschool project has been all of grace, bringing to mind the words of the beloved hymn:
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured–
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Sin and despair, like the sea-waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater– yes, grace untold–
Points to the Refuge, the mighty Cross. [Refrain]
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
All who are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Looking forward to homeschool graduation
When we customized our graduate’s homeschool diploma recently, we chose the seal “Soli Deo Gloria,” a further reminder that our homeschool telos is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
In a few weeks we will come together with family and friends to commemorate the ending of one season and the beginning of another at our son’s homeschool graduation celebration.
He’ll don a cap and gown and we will celebrate his hard work, dedication, and years of learning. There will be a quote or two by Tolkien, I’m sure, because that’s the kind of man he is.
(Don’t tell him yet, but we even made sure to include a Tolkien quote on his homeschool diploma.)
I’ll cry, because that’s just what this mama does, but they’ll be tears of joy. My husband probably won’t cry, but he will pray and support and encourage just like he’s done for our whole homeschool adventure. And we’ll celebrate our own hard work, dedication, and years of learning right alongside our son.
If you’re a homeschool mama just starting out on this journey, I hope you are encouraged when I tell you that it really is all worth it. The tears and the laughter are all worth it. Keep persevering by God’s grace.
And if you’re a homeschool mama seeing the end in sight, I hope you’ll link arms with me as we laugh and cry and persevere together towards this particular end and the start of new beginnings by God’s grace.
“A little bit sad about the place we are leaving. A little bit glad about the place we are going. It’s a time of quiet wonder.”
Thank you again to Homeschool Diploma for sponsoring this post. Most companies want to elevate their own products in a sponsored post. Homeschool Diploma specifically wanted to elevate the homeschool experience, homeschool graduates, and their families. It is my joy to share this company who so desires to serve and encourage homeschoolers as they reach exciting graduation milestones.
You may also enjoy How to Create a Unique Homeschool Graduation