Scared. Inadequate. Not up to the task. Unqualified. Mediocre. Overwhelmed. These were just a few of the thoughts that kept a constant running trek through my thoughts as I stepped out of the public teaching sector and into a much more private setting. My own home.
When my husband and I started tossing around the idea of me eventually leaving my job and schooling our children, I loved the thought. I knew I would eventually be up for the task. After all, I have a teaching certification and years of experience to qualify me. But that was a dream for the future. I wouldn’t have to “prepare” for some time now. I had years before I’d have to confront the specifics of what it would take and what it would look like. It was a long way off, or so I thought.
I had a plan. A well-laid out plan. A plan that needed only to be fulfilled. Ha. I laugh now, because my plans were quickly derailed. God took them, pretended to look them over, and proceeded to lay out the most perfect path that only his infinite wisdom could provide. None of the “dreams” I thought I had would reach fruition at the time I thought they would.
Since I have more teaching experience in the upper grades – mainly 5th-8th – I felt very comfortable having my kids home as they transitioned into those upper elementary years. I was prepared to build on the foundations instilled at their private school. (Where I also taught.) As my husband and I discussed the real possibility of educating our children at home, I thought, “you know, I bet I could even go as low as 2nd or 3rd grade. I could manage that. As long as I don’t have to teach them how to read, or grasp basic math concepts…”
Lower elementary teachers never ceased to amaze me at how they could take a child and teach him or her how to recognize letters and sounds, form words, and begin to read. Amazing! And not only to accomplish this feat with one child, but a classroom full of them. I experienced the same awe and wonderment when it came to beginner math skills as well. Truly amazing. This was never an undertaking I wanted to experience. I did not feel I had the know-how, or the patience to succeed, and was always glad that others were gifted with these abilities, so i did not have to put my skills to the test.
WIth my older children being just a grade apart, I envisioned easing into homeschooling. I had it all worked out: I would stop teaching when my oldest got to 3rd or 4th grade. I would leave the younger children in their classes while I focused on developing a strong foundation with my class of one at home. Each year, I would add another student (child) until all of my children were at home. It was perfect, or so it seemed. This slow transition would allow me to better grasp the new reality of homeschooling.
But like I said, God had other plans…
When I finally left my teaching position it was not to “develop a strong foundation with my class of one.” It was to develop it with a class of five, and I never felt more worried and scared.
As a mother, you worry about your children. You worry if they are getting enough to eat. You worry if they slept well. You worry about their behaviors, their manners, and their insecurities. You can’t help but worry about your children. And now to top it all off, you worry if you’re going to provide a quality education. You’ve taught others, but can you teach your own?
When I first entertained the idea of becoming a teacher, I decided that I would accept whatever position came my way, whether it be high school, junior high, or elementary. I would throw my hat in the ring for any of them as long as it wasn’t the primary grades. I stayed as far away from those grades as I could, and now I was being led to teach them. I felt insecure in my abilities to teach these lower grades, but also strong in my ability to trust God in all things. I did not know what I was doing, but He did. He would set my path straight.
As you may recall from my previous article, our sudden jump into homeschooling centered around my son, and his need for something more than his current academic setting could provide. When we first started, my son did not have a full grasp on his alphabet. We worked at it and worked at it, using flash cards, activities, and anything else I thought might help him recall the names and sounds of the letters. Using Masterbooks and Sonlight, two highly recommended curriculums, we slowly progressed through his Kindergarten year, and before I knew it, he was entering first grade. Though these were both great curriculums, it was not the best fit for our family, and he was no closer to learning how to read. I decided to switch his reading to All About Reading.
I’m so glad I did, because what a phenomenal curriculum! Just twenty minutes a day saw my restless, hyperactive child grow in confidence in his endeavors, and begin reading in no time. We started our new school year this past June, and he was reading short words and sentences by August! I can not recommend this program enough. The reading material is entertaining, the activities are fun, and the “work” is logical. As a parent and teacher, I felt equipped leading my child through the difficult task of learning to read. And what’s more is it’s affordable! (Click the link below and you’ll see how affordable!)
This year we have a 2nd grader, a 1st grader, 2 kindergartners, 1 preschooler, and a toddler. As you can see, I am now teaching multiple children in grades I never thought I would. I did not start this journey with the confidence needed to get the job done, but you know what? As we all progressed and continued on, it became easier, and my confidence in teaching basic skills and laying foundations became easier. Are there hard days? Yes. Some days go nothing like you had planned, but that’s the beauty of homeschooling. They don’t have to go exactly according to schedule as long as you are steadily working toward that end goal. Progress is progress.