It is seventeen years since I first began the exciting and somewhat scary journey of homeschooling. I have six children, but my two oldest children are both finishing their degrees this year (valuation and music degrees) so I only have four still at home. What a journey it has been!
When I first began home schooling Josiah in 1994, I had no idea what joys lay ahead of me. It was a scary decision to make and yet both Chris and I knew that this was what we wanted. Josiah was an active boy and still had an afternoon nap when he was four. As ‘D day’ loomed nearer, I began to look seriously at the local school, and other schooling options. For me, the clincher was that I didn’t want to hand Josiah over to a teacher for the biggest part of his day, only to have him for a few tired ragged hours at the end. I also realized his teacher wouldn’t necessarily share the same values and beliefs that Chris and I want to share with our children. Deuteronomy 6: 5-7 was the mandate I had from the Lord to begin home schooling. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Now, much later, as I look back on all the years of homeschooling, the over-riding feeling is one of togetherness as I remember the many happy hours we have spent reading great books in front of the fire; the busy, noisy fun-filled days as the children practiced music, played LEGO, and made tree huts; the bustling activity in the kitchen as they learnt to preserve apples and cook delicious cakes and dinners in our wood burning stove. I will also be for ever thankful for the way homeschooling saved my dyslexic son from the hurtful embarrassment and frustration endured by so many children who struggle with reading. Because I was able to take Samuel at his own pace, and encourage him in his own different areas of gifting, he has never struggled with low self-esteem. When I finally had him assessed, the examiner took me aside and said, “Do you know what the best thing you ever did for your son was?” I had a pretty good idea, but wanted to hear her say it. “The best thing you ever did for Sam was homeschool him!” Yay! Don’t I know it! And then when Sam turned ten, he suddenly discovered reading and began devouring the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Now, his younger brother Jacob complains to me, “All Sam ever does is read!” I clapped my hands with joy the first time I heard him say that, and Jacob promptly told me, “It was NOT meant as a compliment!” We have been living in a 90 year old barn (www.rosieboom.com/home-and-family/the-barn) for the last four years, while Chris and I have been building our new family home. The children have all helped and have learned so many practical skills on the job. They would never have been able to experience that if they had spent all day at school. We have also just come home from a New Zealand tour, where we performed as a family in concerts every night – the richness in music is a direct fruit from our homeschooling. So many blessings, so much I could say… Yes, there have been times of frustration (why can’t I teach him to read??), worry (am I doing enough??), and even despair (I am a dreadful mother). But we have found our way through those times and drawn closer together. I love to watch them all playing Settlers of Catan together, happy in each other’s company, laughing loudly. My teenage daughter is fourteen, going on fourteen. They each have a love for God and want to live lives that please Him. When I look at my youngest, I realize I’ll be home schooling for a number of years yet. But when we all curl up on the sofa in the morning to read a good book together, I don’t ever want it to end.