Hal & Melanie Young
Recently someone who listens to our podcast said she’d heard lots of people referring to their mistakes or regrets about homeschooling, and she wondered if we could we take the positive side and share the decisions we were glad about? “Great idea!” we thought. Then we reminisced, “What choices did we make along the way that worked out even better than we’d hoped?”
We started homeschooling our oldest child in 1994, so we’ve been homeschooling for twenty-four years. We’ve graduated four and still have four kids to go. What worked for our family might not be the right solution for yours. Your kids are not our kids, and our teaching style may not be yours. But in our particular situation, here are some things that we can look back and say, “Wow—I’m glad we did that!”
We’re glad we researched it early on.
We were talking about homeschooling and reading about it long before we even had kids. When we started, it made things easier to have some idea how to begin. Even if you’re homeschooling already, you can look ahead to the next phase and “do your homework” before you get there.
We’re glad we got connected with other homeschoolers.
When we started homeschooling back in ancient times, the local homeschool group was the best place to get information, advice, and support. Now there’s all the information we need as close as our smart phones, but the friendships we formed in real life became our day-to-day community and encouragement. We’ve been very thankful for our state organization and HSLDA, too.
We’re glad we had mentors.
Some of those local homeschoolers we met were older, more experienced parents who were great resources and examples for us. We still look for couples who are in the next stage of life so we can ask hard questions and get the benefit of real-life experience.
We’re glad we stayed flexible.
We took a rather eclectic approach from the beginning, and that meant we didn’t feel tied to a single curriculum or teaching method—which was a good thing when we found our children had different learning styles and even learning challenges. That flexibility extends beyond our curriculum choice to our calendar, our daily schedule, and more!
We’re glad we learned from all sorts of teaching styles.
We’ve gleaned wisdom and bits and pieces of information from all sorts of styles—the Charlotte Mason approach, classical education, unschooling, unit studies, and traditional textbooks, too. Life has challenges and when you have the kids with you 24/7, you have to figure out how school works in the midst of crisis. It won’t be what you’d planned! (Hint: Life lessons happen when life brings a struggle.)
We’re glad we filled our house with books.
When we were just starting out, we were disappointed to see the local library discarding so many classic children’s books in favor of more colorful, trendy titles. We started hunting the library sales and used-book stores for good children’s books, and we were able to surround our kids with all sorts of age-appropriate literature. They’ve grown up in a house full of books! Research now says that kids who grow up in a book-rich home are better educated regardless of their schooling.
We’re glad we made homeschooling a family lifestyle.
We’ve made some careful use of outside classes and online resources, especially as the children reached high school, but our homeschool is focused inside our family—whether at home or on the road. We have built so many memories and good times from our group activities, impromptu field trips when traveling, ride-alongs on Dad’s business trips, and shared ministry and service opportunities. Only the flexibility and parent-direction of homeschooling has made that possible. The extended time we’ve spent with our children has allowed us to build the kind of relationships with them that will last a lifetime—and we are very thankful for that, indeed!
Ultimately, though, we’re glad that homeschooling makes discipleship easier.
When your kids leave home, as several of ours have already, their relationship with you and their relationship with God are what will really matter. Homeschooling gives us the time to teach truth in the context of relationship, and that makes it worth all the work and frustration.
Are there things we might have done differently? Sure, there are always things we’d change if we could, but even so, when we look back decades after we first made the decision to homeschool, we’re sure thankful we did!
Hal and Melanie Young are homeschooling parents of eight who are frequent convention speakers, including HEAV’s Virginia Homeschool Convention. They’re the authors of the award-winning Raising Real Men and Amazon bestseller Love, Honor, and Virtue, and they host the podcast “Making Biblical Family Life Practical.”