My husband and I, even when we were dating, spoke of homeschooling our children. Now, over 25 years and three sons later, our youngest is a freshman in college. Game over. We did it; all three boys were homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. With our oldest now a graduate of Biola University and living in another state, and our younger adults son having dreams and aspirations of their own, I look back on the last two decades and reflect on the journey.
As with most epic adventures, some things we did well and some decisions we regret. However, I know that God in His wisdom will use our successes and failures to accomplish His Sovereign will, and in this I take consolation. If I had a chance to “do over,” here are some things I would have done differently. I would have allowed my boys to fail more often.
While they participated in some drama and sports, which taught them the joys of victory and learning from mistakes, I regret that we didn’t give them more opportunities for “safe failure” so they would have learned earlier that failure to work hard will result in unpleasant consequences. Also, time management was something they never fully mastered while “Mommy” managed their time for them.
I loved mapping out the course schedules and never gave them the chance to experience this for themselves. I also regret that I stopped reading out loud to them and stopped having them memorize large passages of scripture when they reached middle school age. They are all good writers. I wonder: How much better writers would they be if we had done more to more adequately lay this necessary foundation?
At the same time, there are many choices we did make that I believe helped to instill in our boys the character and love of learning that will help them succeed in life. We taught them manners and to treat others, especially women, with respect. Whenever my boys visit my friends, I hear from them how polite and helpful they are. Another joy we all experienced was cooperative classes. Biola STAR gave my boys the chance to learn science from someone who loves cutting up that frog (ick!) while giving me an opportunity to teach English, which I love to do!
Because they were homeschooled, our boys had time to pursue their passions. My oldest son, 24, loves people and, even though homeschooled, has a network of friends who are both entertaining and scholarly. My middle son, 22, is a performing artist who loves the Lord, and he often plays in nightclubs on Saturday nights and on the worship team on Sunday mornings! My youngest, 20, is an up and coming entrepreneur and will likely be the first to break $100K.
All different bents. None forced to comply with any pre-established standard. As a result, all three love learning. Their bookshelves are filled with many of the great (Lewis, Tolkien, Plato) and not-so-great (Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov) authors. While I may not always agree with their choices in literature, music, or film, I do appreciate their love for learning and their deep respect and care for others.
Given the choice again, would I have said yea or nay to homeschooling my boys? A hearty YEA! OR YAY! Although our days were not always rosy, the hard work we put in was immensely satisfying. And, I would say, we did have fun—most of the time. The story is not over yet. While we are done homeschooling, we are not done being parents. Who knows, someday one of my boys may ask me to homeschool my grandchildren! Although I wouldn’t want to deprive my future daughter-in-law of the triumphs and trials of homeschooling, I must admit, I would be amicable to the idea.
Copyright 2008. Julie Walker. Reprinted by CHEA of California with permission of the author.
Julie Walker and her husband homeschooled their three boys from kindergarten through high school. Now she is working to complete her Master’s degree in Business Administration. Previously she worked for Biola University, establishing Biola Youth’s STAR and Torrey Academy programs for homeschooling teens. She now serves as the marketing director for the Institute for Excellence in Writing.