My name is Maggie Tynan. I am a 22-year-old, junior economics major and ex homeschooler.
I was homeschooled for 6 years total ( 7th grade – Senior year of high school),
but my family is currently going on 10+ years of homeschooling.
Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I do not know the other side.
I do not know what it is like to be a homeschooling parent. I don’t know all the decisions and choices, prayers and tears that you go through. I haven’t been there, but I do know what it is like to be the subject of those decisions and choices, of those prayers and tears.
I know what it is like to be a homeschooled kid. So, for what it’s worth, here are my thoughts.
First, it is weird and different. But honestly, you probably already know that. You probably are not homeschooling your kids because you think it is the hip, cool, thing to do. And if you are, that’s weird. Because homeschooling is a weird and different idea, and it is not a decision that you should take lightly. While homeschooling is becoming much more normal than it even was when we started, it is still weird and unintelligible to some people.
This attitude towards homeschooling that is held by many was shown very clearly to us because we had previously been enrolled at private Catholic School. It was clear to me as a 6th grader that people did not understand the choice my family was making, and it was especially clear when my friend told me “You are going to ruin your life.” I was told I wouldn’t have friends and that I would be forgotten about by those who were my friends. Pretty harsh things to hear as a 6th grader, and I wish I could say they said it just because we were 6th graders and were still mean and immature. But unfortunately, my mom got her fair share of comments and remarks of the same tone. But they were so wrong. I didn’t ruin my life.
My mom did not ruin my life. I found new friends. I found new hobbies and interests. I learned about things I never would have had the opportunity to learn had I stayed in school. I became closer to my family and grew as a person. All because my mom decided to do something “weird” and “different.”
All of that is to say, when someone says you can’t homeschool, remember that you can. If someone says you are crazy for this decision, you are not. Don’t listen to those who are pretending to know more about you and your family, because they don’t. You know your family and you know what’s best for them. If that means homeschooling, then homeschool. Their remarks and comments might hurt, but don’t let them dictate your decisions. If I could go through it as a 6th grader, you can do it now.
Second, it is hard. It can be really hard. I know, because I contributed to what made it hard. I think I cried every time my mom tried to teach me math the first year we homeschooled. My brothers used to say that their favorite time of day was when the phone rang and distracted my mom so they could run and play. But hard paths can lead to incredible outcomes. The fact that it will be hard will be part of what makes it so worthwhile.
Don’t get me wrong, there will be days when you all ride your bikes to the zoo and learn about the animals. But there will also be days when you are sick, and your house is a disaster and you have not done math in a week. But don’t worry. Your house will be cleaned (and then a wreck, and then cleaned, and then a wreck, and on and on). Your kid will learn math. Your kid who hated math might even end up as an economics major. Additionally, remember why you are doing this. Even when your kids don’t remember, you need to know why you have made this decision and remember why it was a good one.
Because trust me, it’s hard but it is good.
Finally, it will be good. It will be very, very, good. Educating your children is not a light decision and I am again assuming that you know that. But if you have really prayed about it and discerned that it is the right thing for your family, I promise that it will be very good. It gives you time as a family to be together, to work together, and grow together. It also gives you time to understand the members of your family both as a group and individually. You learn their strengths, weaknesses, passions, fears, habits, and desires in a way that you just don’t have time for when the only time you spend together is in the car on the way to school. To be able to see the uniqueness of every individual under your roof is incredible, and something that we have lost, or at least that we are losing, as a culture. To see them, and love them, and push them as they see and love and push you is amazing, and so, so good. But you have to do it. If it is right for your family, you have to step up and actually do it.
There are many ways in which you can do this, and it will be different for every family. There is no one “right” way to homeschool. It depends on the mom, the child, the situation, the subject and a multitude of other things. But how cool that you can learn about all these things and tailor their education to them in the way that will most benefit them? It is difficult to cater to this type of learning in a classroom setting.
As I said, I do not know what it is like to be on the other side. All I know is that my mom homeschooled me, and it changed my life. I do not think I would be the person I am today without those 6 years. Not all of it was easy. A lot of it was hard, for both me and my mom. But I cannot even imagine how much harder it would have been for me in school. Not because I was ever bullied, or ever struggled academically, but because it was not right for me. I don’t know how, but my mom knew that, and so she had the individual courage and the support of my dad, to change the course of our family.
I will be forever grateful to them for that and for many other things. And if you know what is right for your family, and if that is homeschooling, I can promise that it will be hard. But, more importantly, it will be good, and one day your children will be thankful.