The Honest Homeschooler–Amy Hall

Amy and her son on their first day of school

Today, I’m going to kick-off a new series on homeschooling. Given the many, many questions I get about it all the time, I figure people want to know what is homeschooling really like?

We’re going to keep it honest here. Homeschooling isn’t easy. It’s not always fun. But hopefully, these posts will show you why some of us choose to stick with it. 

At the same time, it’s not for everyone! I’m all for putting your child in the best school for your child. I would never tell someone to homeschool if they weren’t convinced it’s what they’re supposed to be doing. Trust me, these posts will never be preachy. I just want to give you a realistic glimpse into the homeschooling world.

For my first post, my friend Amy Hall graciously offered to blog about her first year of homeschooling–which is this year! You can find more posts by Amy here: Amy is the myMISSION PIEDMONT Coordinator, Piedmont Baptist Association.

And now, over to Amy!

First-Year Reflections 
by: Amy Hall

Nine weeks into homeschooling and we have yet to fit the stereotypical homeschool family moldIt was never my desire to homeschool (it was my husband’s, but my son has a couple life-threatening food allergies that made us think twice about his education) plus we only have one child (far-cry from the Duggars).  Then, I never spent hours reading the homeschool books, blogs and websites before making our decision (which I probably should have done a little more research beyond our State laws).  Nor did I really compare curriculum before purchasing ours as God kept leading us to one company.

Most of what I’ve learned about homeschooling came from watching my mom homeschool my sister back in the early 90s, following former classmates and their homeschool journeys via Facebook and then a totally failed attempt at homeschooling my son for preschool last year based around the workbooks you’d find at Sams and Walmart (where I learned that I needed the structure and discipline of a formal curriculum more so than my child). 
In some ways, ignorance has been bliss on this homeschool journey.  It allows me to do things without set expectations (although I’ve still have plenty as I try to let go of “school” as I’ve always known it).  It also allows me to be open to many surprises and adventures, to rediscover creativity and imagination, to draw upon local connections and expertise, and to have fun educating my child rather than be bogged down in the comparison trap and trying to homeschool like everyone else does. 
However, there are things that would’ve been helpful to know beforehand like just how messy our house would be all the time (this is the first time that I’m actually a SAHM that stays at home).  I also wasn’t prepared for how much homeschool changes your perspective on everything (like going from insisting on that break/girl’s night out to discovering the pure joy of staying home with family instead to seeing life all over again through rediscovering everything I’ve forgotten over the years).  I also didn’t know how intertwined school and life would become, that everything we do can be tweaked into an educational opportunity.  However, I’ve also learned that in order to save my sanity, it’s okay to take breaks and to do non-educational things. 
Without any extra “work”, a natural shift is occurring within our family where school is moving outside of the two hours around a set curriculum every morning, to teaching our son about character, work ethic, and missions as we go throughout each day (aka being intentional about life rather than being ruled by busyness). 
I also wasn’t prepared for homeschooling to reveal my strengths and weaknesses in such powerful ways.  I’ve been amazed at how God has already equipped me as a parent to teach my child.  Not only that, He’s been preparing me to homeschool all along through various full and part time jobs, college electives, friendships and ministry experiences. 
I’ve also seen that if you want things to change in the classroom, you have to change yourself first(especially when you catch yourself mid-yell as your child’s silent defiance comes out once again mixed with the realization that a “real” teacher in a “real” school wouldn’t be yelling at their student like that…ouch).  Yet, through the weaknesses, God has revealed Himself, His grace, His love and His strength in many new ways.
Our morning Bible classes spent reading through “Ergermeier’s Bible Story Book” and memorizing verses with “Sing the Word from A to Z” remind me of the simple fact that the Bible is really the only textbook that we need for life!  It’s one that we never outgrow and one that can be shared among all grade levels with something for everyone.  The Bible is rich in history, geography, literature, math, character and relationship building, writing, problem solving and more.  For us, homeschooling has this unique way of taking the complicated, removing all the unnecessary, and leaving something simple and doable in its place…not just with homeschooling but with faith. 
Nine weeks ago, I could’ve given you all the reasons why I can’t homeschool.  But, today, I can give you all the reasons why I can homeschool.  Not only that, I can give you all the reasons how kindergarten has changed our family dynamics, my relationship with God, and the lens in which I view the people and the world around me.  I have no clue if we’ll continue with homeschooling next year or beyond.  But for today, God has given us this incredible gift of homeschooling that is worth every sacrifice, every expense, every smile and every tear (trust me, we’ve had plenty of both) that come through this adventure.  
****A big thank-you to Amy for kicking off this series with her insightful post! I can see how a life-threatening allergy would be a strong motivator to homeschool. Anyone else’s kids have allergies? How do you deal with those in classroom settings? And if you homeschool, how did that first year go for you? I enjoyed our first year so much, because it was just one child who got my full attention (Grandma babysat the others, bless her)! Gets a bit trickier when you’re splitting it between three (and I cannot IMAGINE the Duggars!).****

9 thoughts on “The Honest Homeschooler–Amy Hall

  1. I love that homeschooling is so different for everyone who does it! We're several weeks into our first official year and having a blast. (No, not literally…thank goodness our science experiments have not yet exploded. 😉

  2. Yes, I agree, Jennifer! And Faith, so glad it's going great for you! As I said above, I remember that first year…I did loads of research, etc., but it's always fun learning how your child learns best. We did Sonlight that year.

  3. So glad you shared this!I have a few years left, but I need to start preparing myself. It's good to read these blogs, it helps me understand what I'm getting into. Sometimes I doubt myself, but then, I remember God can do anything. I'm not in this alone!Thanks ladies, really enjoyed!

  4. Aaaah, home schooling. It's changed my life. It doesn't always FEEL like we're doing the better thing, but if I can step back and look at our daughter from a distance (translate: objectively), I can see that it IS what's BEST for her. Hard, yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Thank you for sharing, ladies. It's good to know that we're not on this journey alone – albeit varied and unique for each of us.Blessings,Becky

  5. Hi Amy! Homeschooling is a huge investment and commitment–I know that all too well as I was homeschooled during my highschool years while overseas. Maybe that's why homeschooling scares me a little, lol! I was a homeschooled teen, I know how homeschooled teens are. But I'm still considering it as my son approaches kindergarten in a few years. I live in a small town where there are no private or Christian schools, and I cringe at the thought of putting him in a public school. I am bathing this in serious prayer. Thanks for your testimony! :-)Bless you Heather! I like the idea of a blog series. Homeschooling is definately a topic I'm interested in reading about. You go girl!

  6. Faith and Becky, I had no clue how different homeschooling was for each family until I started meeting other HSing families in our support group! It's so individual and customized based on the benefits and needs of the child! We're also doing Sonlight like Heather did her first year — it has been a true blessing and God-send! Everything has been clearly spelled out for us and we love the variety! Gwendolyn, I'm really curious to know what it was like for you as a homeschooled teen (the challenges and blessings of it as well as how it has affected your life and things parents should consider when it comes to homeschooling in the teen years, etc….lol–Heather, potential post??). Am sure you view homeschooling in a totally different light after being homeschooled yourself! Keep praying about homeschooling your child! I've been learning a lot from my teacher friends and when I hear how their day is structured in elementary school, it helps me see that we're doing similar things except in 1 1/2-2 hrs instead of 6-7 hrs/day without all the outside influences. Heather, can't wait to read more about homeschooling besides your snippets on FB! Thanks for going this route!

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