by Sarah Schofield

If there’s one thing that homeschooling has taught me it is that I don’t know anything. I’ll explain. I went into this adventure with the idea that I would be lavishing all of my knowledge and wisdom upon my children and they would be grateful recipients of all this wonderful teaching. How wrong I was.notebook

I was also under the assumption that my children had nothing to teach me that I didn’t already know. Yes, I know. I can hear you veteran homeschoolers laughing all the way from here. For those of you that are new to this whole journey, like me, let me lay it out for you. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Lessons So Far

Many people say that it takes a credentialed person to teach young children to read, write and add. It does not take a genius. It takes a saint. After explaining the difference between ‘b‘ and ‘d‘ for the millionth time, I realized that nobody can do this without going into the bathroom and letting out a scream from time to time.

  • It is impossible for a six-year-old boy to sit on his rear end while he does his schoolwork. I’ve been trying to find the solution to this problem for months now. If you’ve figured out the key to this mystery, please, for pete’s sake, take pity and let me in on it.
  • Ice cream trucks can be heard by young children’s ears up to five miles away. And, in related news, ice cream truck drivers are bent on torturing moms.
  • Science experiments are a great way to call a truce when the teacher and students seem to be at war with one another. Nothing like a little baking soda volcano to make everybody friends again.
  • Math lesson papers are laced with sleeping gas. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for the sudden lack of energy that comes upon my boys when I pass out the day’s lesson. It’s quite incredible.
  • Oral history reports can reveal little-known facts about topics that you thought you knew through and through. For example, Columbus sailed to the New World in the Niña, the Jalapeno and the Santa Maria. Who knew?
  • Amnesia can strike at any moment. Why else does my second grader suddenly forget the spelling words from the previous day?

I’m the Teacher, Right?

In all seriousness, I am learning. By leaps and bounds. It’s more than just fun little facts that I’ve forgotten as years go by, or a little tip that I pick up here and there. I’m being taught some major life lessons that require some heavy study on my part. And the thing that makes the lesson even more poignant is that it’s usually taught to me by my own children. This, my friends, is a hard pill for me to swallow. After all, I’m the teacher, right? Isn’t it up to me to pass on little pearls of wisdom to these precious little boys? It seems that the Lord, as usual, has a different plan for me.

I think, and I’m sure all of you who homeschool would agree, that patience is the number one lesson learned from our children. I think that goes without saying. But next in the line of lessons I’ve learned from my boys is that I shouldn’t take life, or their schooling for that matter, too seriously. After all, isn’t the whole point here to enjoy the journey?

Yes, there are requirements. And yes, we have a lesson plan to follow. But there is nothing in the rulebook that says we can’t make brownies to teach fractions, or pull chairs up to the computer and take turns thinking of strange things to Google. We’ve even used our family vacations as “school.” Why not take the time to explore new things and stray from the beaten path every now and then? Seems to me that it’s this sort of lesson that makes homeschooling that much easier.

Lesson of Humility

Finally, I’ve learned the lesson of having humility. This lesson is the hardest to learn, and by far the most painful. I’ve found that whenever humility is needed in my life, it’s taught in the most humiliating way, and is usually taught to me by my sons. What better way to learn, right?

I, like most humans, can get a big head, and when things are going well, I make the fatal mistake of thinking it’s because of something I’ve done. It’s a simple mistake that we homeschoolers can make, seeing as how we take responsibility for all that involves our children.

Case in point. Recently, I’d been priding myself on how kind my boys were being to their friends, and commented to one of my friends that I’d been working hard to make this happen. The very next day, I kid you not, my oldest son was caught trash talking on the soccer field, and mocking the other team. Lesson learned, Lord, at least until the next time.

So, there you have it, the things I’ve learned on my homeschooling journey thus far. Are there more lessons to be learned? You bet. And I can’t wait to see what they are. . .sort of.

When she originally wrote this article, Sarah Schofield was a homeschooling mother of three boys: a four-year-old, a six-year-old, and a seven-year-old. They are now 10, 12, and 13. Sarah was homeschooled from fifth grade through high school, and all seven of her younger siblings were homeschooled from start to finish. 

This article originally appeared in the 2011 winter edition of the California Parent Educator.