We began homeschooling in June of 1993 with four children, ages seven, five, three, and eighteen months old. Shortly after deciding to homeschool, I discovered that I was expecting our fifth child and began to have severe morning sickness that lasted five months—morning and night!
We had just begun our journey in home education and already faced our first difficult situation. I had barely enough energy to put cereal into bowls for my young children. I was too nauseated to do much homemaking, let alone cook more than basic meals, and I had added teaching my children to it all.
No one would have blamed me for changing my mind about home schooling. Many of our family members were skeptical about our decision to teach our children ourselves. I modified my expectations of how we would accomplish it all and began training my children to help run the house. My children emptied wastebaskets, put away silverware, learned to fold and put away laundry, helped to prepare simple meals, and proved what an asset they were to our family.
I learned that I was the first student in our home school! I discovered that home schooling was more than academics. My children learned cooperation, helpfulness, homemaking, and compassion as well as phonics, math, reading, and spelling that first year!
As the end of our first year of home education neared, my husband lost his job. We were already facing another difficulty. We could have put our children in public school and daycare, and I could have gone to work to help supplement our finances, but that was not what we chose.
Our whole family went through our home together pulling unused and unneeded items from our closets, cabinets, and drawers for a yard sale. We bought packages of cookies, candies, and sodas and let the children sell snacks at their stand for the yard sale. Together we worked to raise the money we needed to keep us going as my husband looked for a new job.
We pored through cookbooks to find recipes for tasty but inexpensive foods to decrease the grocery bill. The children and I learned to make yogurt, tortillas, pancakes, muffins, refried beans, granola, breads, pretzels, and much more. We made cutbacks wherever we could to pare expenses to the minimum.
It was not easy or enjoyable. There were days when we wondered if we would make it. The experience taught us to rely on God’s provision. We were tempered, tried, and tested. These trials produced triumphs in each member of our family. As the years went by, we faced job losses, illnesses, and difficulties with confidence in the abilities that the Lord had developed in us.
Home schooling helps us manage the tough times because we are together as we go through various situations. When one of us is worried or scared, another is right there to offer hugs, encouragement, and prayers. We are able to comfort each other when comforting is needed.
These various experiences have made us a resourceful, able, skilled, and thankful family. While I would not have sought the difficulties we faced over the years, I can see the fruit that developed from all of them. We know that God hears and answers prayers. My children know that there is strength to be found in our family and that we can rely on each other. To me, that is the mark of successful home schooling!