Do you ever look around in the middle of your chaotic homeschool day and wish you could talk to someone who had been-there-done-that and lived to tell the tale? How few of us, however, have those wise, experienced, veteran homeschool moms living nearby!
Many of you are new homeschoolers, and perhaps you’re swimming against the tide of your family or community’s expectations.
Many of you have been persevering in this homeschool gig for a while, but maybe you’re tired, lonely, and wondering if it’s all even worth it.
And many of you are blessed with supportive communities of homeschooling peers, but you wish you could talk to someone with a more long-term perspective.
That’s what this Homeschool Generations series is all about.
In Part One, I shared a bit of my own story as a 2nd-generation homeschooler and asked the question, “If we explored the combined wisdom, experience, enthusiasm, and innovation from multiple generations of homeschoolers, what might we discover?”
Today in Part Two we have the privilege of hearing from six different veteran homeschool moms. Some of these moms were part of the initial battle to make homeschooling legal in their state. Some of them are more recently retired from the homeschooling gig. One of them has continued to homeschool a second set of children!
Their experiences may vary, yet I think you’ll find a few consistent themes cropping up.
Take a moment to listen to these dear, generous veteran homeschool moms who have shared their hearts with us. We younger moms have so much to learn from those who have gone before us and laid the foundation for the homeschool freedoms we have today!
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Words of Wisdom from Veteran Homeschool Moms
Come with us as we explore these 10 questions with our 6 veteran homeschool moms:
- Why did you choose to homeschool?
- When you first began homeschooling, did you know other people who homeschooled?
- How did your family and friends react to your decision to homeschool?
- What was the homeschool community like when you were homeschooling?
- What was the hardest part of homeschooling?
- What was your favorite part of homeschooling?
- Would you do anything differently if you were beginning your homeschool journey today?
- Any days you spent worried that your kids were behind…was it ever true when they entered the workforce/college?
- How did homeschooling affect you as a homeschool parent? Are there any particular personal lessons you learned?
- What differences, if any, do you notice in the new generation of homeschoolers compared to the early days?
1. Why did you choose to homeschool?
Flexibility and a customizable education. Parental involvement. Faith and family culture. Educational philosophy convictions. Do these sound familiar to you as reasons to choose to homeschool? Come meet the 6 veteran homeschool moms joining us today and hear a few of the reasons why they chose to homeschool.
Katherine Weitz (Cottage Press Publishing) had always been somewhat interested in the idea of homeschooling, but it was reading For the Children’s Sake that was the real decision point. The philosophy expressed in that book resonated deeply with her, and so the Weitz family took a Charlotte Mason/Classical approach from the very beginning.
Lisa Hajda (Generational Homeschooling) was also influenced by her desire to follow a Charlotte Mason education. When I asked her why she chose to homeschool, she replied, “There are SO many reasons: to prioritize our Christian faith in all areas of our lives (including education), to strengthen our family and create a lively family culture, to encourage each person to learn at his or her individual pace, and to adhere to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education.”
For Mari Fitz-Wynn (Heart for Homeschool Ministries), it was her desire “to spend more time with my children and to focus specifically on their academic needs and pursuits,” that primarily caused her to choose homeschooling.
Kristin Moon (Kristin Moon Science) would agree. She explained, “I wanted the opportunity to share in the education of my sons. I wanted a front row seat to watch them learn about the world. Additionally, I wanted the opportunity to tailor my sons’ education to their interests and specific needs.”
Do any of you have public school educators in your family background? Then perhaps you will relate to Missy Andrews’s (CenterforLit) experience surprising herself with the decision to homeschool: “When Adam and I were engaged, we discussed how we might educate our future children. He wanted to homeschool; I argued hotly that “what was good enough for me was good enough for my children.” I had received a public school education. My mother and father were public school educators. I received the entire idea of home education as an affront to my family identity.
Of course, what’s ‘good enough’ for an imaginary child and what’s good for the actual child, staring up with perfect trust into his mother’s eyes, are completely different things. By the time my first was two, I was busily researching homeschool philosophies with never a backward glance at my previous contentions. What changed? All I knew was that this child had been entrusted to me and that there was no way I was going to put him on a school bus to spend the bulk of his day imbibing the worldview of strangers. I would do it myself. It was just too important.”
The final veteran homeschool mom joining us today is my friend Jewel. I’ve known Jewel since I was a homeschooled child myself, and I have long appreciated her wise, gentle example. She shared, “There were different reasons we chose to home school, starting with my own parents choosing to home school my younger two siblings when they left for the mission field. (’72) When they would travel back to the states, I saw the incredible academic and social difference in my sister.”
One day in the early 80s, before their first child was even born, Jewel’s husband heard Dr. Dobson talking on the radio with a couple who had homeschooled, and her husband announced that he’d like for them to homeschool, too! Later, when their daughter was about 5, Jewel explained, “we knew we wanted to give her more time before sending her to school. We knew she was advanced academically, but the schools did not have advanced placement for children until grade 3. And so we began our journey. We later heard from Greg Harris as he sat at our dining room table that each year we home schooled we were digging a hole deeper, making it harder and harder to put our daughter into school. She would be too far ahead academically and the school system could not accommodate her.
He was right! We kept going because not only was she thriving academically, but we began to see the moral and social benefits. She was mature and socially well rounded. In a word, thriving!”
2. When you first began homeschooling, did you know other people who homeschooled?
If you’re beginning to homeschool in 2021, it is very unusual to be completely isolated in this decision. When I was a child, hearing I was homeschooled often produced a raised-eyebrow reaction. Now, it’s more common to hear something like, “oh, I wish I could do that” or “oh, I have a lot of friends who homeschool.”
While a few of the veteran homeschool moms joining us today knew other homeschoolers, some of them started this journey practically on their own or in the face of legal obstacles!
Missy Andrews was fortunate in those early years of the home education movement: “Several families in our church homeschooled at that time. They were in the vanguard of the homeschooling movement. Watching them, I acquired vision and inspiration for home education. One of the veteran homeschool moms offered German classes in her living room for homeschool families in the area. Another offered classes for parents on the Spalding Method.”
“Very little curriculum was available at the time. Home education was a relatively new market. The old school, boxed curriculums were available, things like Lifepacs and Abeka. Beyond that, there were just a few good resources for homeschooling families in each of the various disciplines. I discovered many of these through my connections with other homeschool families. Our conversations were often problem solving sessions: How to help the reluctant reader? How to address the seeming gap in my child’s math education? What to do with the littles while I worked with their siblings? These conversations were a lifeline.
Eventually Adam and I developed a homeschool cooperative within our church in which parents shared the burden of homeschooling by offering classes in areas of personal interest and expertise. This group became a source of fellowship and support for our kids and for us.“
Mari Fitz-Wynn and Lisa Hajda
Mari Fitz-Wynn didn’t know any other homeschoolers when she bravely began her journey, while Lisa Hajda knew only one other family in her town who planned to homeschool.
Jewel and Katherine
Jewel and Katherine each knew a small handful of families when they began. In the Weitz’s church of 800, 4 other families began homeschooling the same year they did.
In South Carolina, however, where Jewel was beginning to homeschool? It was not even legal to homeschool unless you had a 4-year degree or had taken the test education majors took in their junior year in college. “This hurdle limited the number of people choosing home school,” Jewel explained.
3. How did your family and friends react to your decision to homeschool?
Extended family can be our greatest support or our greatest detractors when we start homeschooling. I remember my parents telling the story that my own grandparents weren’t so sure about homeschooling when they started out. Fast-forward a decade or so? One of my grandmothers ( a fellow veteran homeschool mom) wrote a passionate letter to the editor of her local newspaper defending homeschooling in the face of a negative article they had published!
Kristin’s family thought maybe it was just a phase they were going through: “My family was a bit surprised, as they didn’t know anyone else who homeschooled. I think they assumed it would only be a temporary phase and that we’d eventually put our sons into traditional school.” The Weitz’s family, as well, was “wary, but supportive overall.”
Mari and Jewel
Mari and Jewel both faced opposing opinions from different sides of their families. Jewel said, “For one set of family members this was way out of their comfort zone! We did have to live with subtle comments and concerns expressed. For the other set of family members it was fully accepted.” Mari said, “One of my parents was strongly supportive and for it, the other was firmly against it.”
Lisa had a close friend planning to homeschool, and that was encouraging. Others were not quite as enthusiastic: “My husband and I were working on our doctorate degrees in education at the time and many of our friends, acquaintances and family members are in public education (my husband still is!) so we had a variety of responses. Most people expressed neutrality—at least in our presence. Our most common negative response was that our children would not develop well socially.”
Missy’s mother was “initially a little skeptical. The public school concept of education puts a very high premium on the professionally credentialed teacher, who specializes in a particular grade level and/or discipline, majors in particular pedagogical methodologies, and relies on regular state testing. This was her world.
The idea that Adam and I would purport to do the work of an entire bureaucratic institution seemed preposterous to her, I’m sure. As I shouldered the then unfamiliar burden of home education, I sometimes wondered at my own audacity.
As the project progressed, however, and the kids thrived, her support for the project likewise blossomed. Soon she was collecting supplemental resources for me and encouraging me wholeheartedly in the work. By the time the kids reached high school, she was helping with their writing instruction.
Adam’s parents, who had participated in alternative education themselves, were equally supportive, helping variously with instruction in math, penmanship, art, rhetoric, and church history over the years. When we embarked on the project of homeschooling, it was not yet mainstream. At times it felt like we were swimming upstream in society – like somehow the reading, writing, and arithmetic we engaged in at home was less legitimate than what took place in sanctioned public institutions. I had not yet outgrown the shaping influence of the public school in my own life. I questioned my legitimacy as an educator. Could I really do this thing?”
But, much as my own grandparents’ opinions changed over time, so did the perspective of Missy’s parents: “I remember that at one point, my mother sent me a certificate of merit, “In Recognition of Superior Educational Instruction” in service to her grandchildren, signed by all four of the grandparents. It hung in our homeschool classroom for over twenty years beside my undergraduate and graduate school diplomas and remains my most valued certification. Their faith in me and in God’s ability to equip and enable me in the process of home education gave me confidence to continue even when the project was most difficult.”
4. What was the homeschool community like when you were homeschooling?
As a 2nd-generation homeschooler, I find the changes to the homeschool community over the past few decades quite fascinating. In fact, it’s one of the topics I’m most interested in exploring in Part Three of this series, when I’ll be chatting with several other 2nd-generation homeschoolers.
The veteran homeschool moms joining us today have homeschool experience spanning from the 1980s to 2020, and I think you’ll see some of the differences from those various times reflected in their responses. One thing is striking to me, however. Whereas many of the homeschool moms I interact with today find a large portion of their homeschool community online, mamas in the previous generation of homeschoolers were focused much more locally. And often what bound them together was not primarily their specific educational philosophy but their shared beliefs and commitment to home education in general.
Missy Andrews found that her local homeschool community provided opportunities for growth in academics, but, even more importantly, provided opportunities for repentance and sanctification: “As I mentioned above, homeschooling was yet to become mainstream when we began the project. Those families that first exposed me to the world of homeschooling were in the vanguard of the effort. They were mavericks, bucking an entrenched governmental system for the sake of their faith. They were an inspiration.
When we began the work of homeschooling ourselves, we recognized a need in our kids and ourselves for a community of others engaged in the project. There were several families in our small church homeschooling at the time, and together we created a parent led co-op to supply this sort of community.
Between the parents we had a historian, a lit major, an engineer, a farmer, a business major, a nurse, and an artist.
Each was passionate about their subject and willing to teach. A division of labor ensued whereby parents offered classes one day a week, supplying the content for home studies in the various subjects.
Philosophically, we were all committed to the responsibility of the parent in the child’s life, the Christian worldview, and the biblical injunction to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
At its largest, the group saw 26 students, K-12. Of course, this group was a mixed bag in regard to its effects. On the one hand, some of our family’s dearest friends resulted from this community. On the other, the group provided opportunity for the expression of original sin – striving, comparisons, egotism, and other performance-based identity quests – for students and parents alike. On the whole, even the darker elements proved valuable opportunities to see our sins and repent. These occasions inevitably became a redemptive source of deeper relationships with one another.”
Lisa Hajda is still homeschooling a younger group of children, so her experience with homeschooling spans 30 years! She said, “In all those years, though, all of the formal or informal homeschooling groups in which we participated had a strong Christian emphasis and not a shared educational philosophy. I actually did not know other homeschoolers who adhered to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education until recently. Eventually this was discouraging to me and we participated less frequently.”
“The legal status in our state set a tone for many home schooling families,” Jewel noted. “Some lived in ‘fear’ of being seen during the day in order to avoid questions and they kept their blinds down. Knowing The Lord had called us to this journey, we had no fear. We lived in freedom enjoying the journey!”
God ended up using Jewel in the fight to change the laws of their state, and later to build a thriving homeschool community! “When HSLDA came to SC to gather the home schoolers to discuss starting the class action law suit, we all bonded together over our common goal of being free to home school. That was most of our focus that year.”
“Because I did not have a 4-year degree, I was told to take the EEE test in order to have sample cases for the law suit. My example with that test became a key testimony in the trial and a funny story that was told around the country for the next few years. Some of us moms would gather for encouragement and field trips. I helped organize a support group for those on our side of town which included about 10-15 families. Once the class action law suit was won our numbers began to grow as did our needs. I began to organize things for home schoolers like bowling, gymnastics, a day for classes covering the arts taught by our moms gifted in that area.”
“I found that since we all had to band together to win a common battle, any differences of philosophy were not important. Most of our families were Christians but that was not “required” to be a part of our activities.”
Mari Fitz-Wynn also “depended on our homeschool support group for activities and co-op learning,” but at the time in her state, “it was considered illegal to participate in outside classes.”
Katherine Weitz said that their homeschool community was full of “lots of young moms, very few gray haired helpers! We created our own co-ops, but most everyone I knew just did their school at home.”
Kristin’s experience as a more recent homeschooler may sound much more familiar to many of you: “In the beginning, we took part in a large co-op so that my sons could have the social interaction. Soon we split from the large group and started our own “mini co-op” of only a few like-minded families. We’d meet once a week for classes using a one-room schoolhouse type of philosophy. We covered science, writing, PE, art, and foreign language. We’d take field trips quite often.”
5. What was the hardest part of homeschooling?
Homeschooling isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. When we’re right in the middle of a challenging homeschool season, it can be easy to feel isolated and alone. But what an encouragement to know that what we’re going through is “common to man”! I asked these dear veteran homeschool moms to share the hardest parts of their homeschool journey, and their humble vulnerability is such an encouragement.
Kristin acknowledged, “There was a fair bit of self-doubt. I wondered if I was provided a thorough education for my boys. I wondered if they were ‘missing out’. We dealt with learning disabilities, and it was hard finding the right curriculum that would serve their needs. I had a hard time not defining my worth by how well my kids were doing in school. It was easy for my whole identity to be wrapped up in our homeschool’s success.”
Missy also found identity to be her deepest struggle: “The hardest part of homeschooling was not the daily instruction, the discipline, or the counter-cultural elements of the project. What was most difficult for me was to remember that my identity was vested in something beyond my role as home educator and parent. The project was so engrossing, so demanding, and so idealistically lofty that it soon became not only an activity, but something that named me. Success or failure? What would I be? This conflation of identity with the project of educating can create a toxic environment for parents and kids.”
“However unconsciously, it makes the child responsible for their parent’s success. They get an A; mom gets an A. This kind of performancism penetrated our schoolroom. If education is the process of coming to know ourselves as sinful and limited creatures, performance-based learning is anti-education, fostering arrogance, fear, and pretense that far transcends the boundaries of the classroom.
“Remembering the real source of identity and value was a daily necessity. Who are we? ‘In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin, born under the Law, that He might redeem those under the Law to adoption as Sons. And because we are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit that calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ Therefore we are no longer slaves, but sons, and if sons then also heirs of God through Christ’ (Gal. 4:4-7).”
How does this transform the way we approach this endeavor? Missy reminded, “Our identity is rooted in the person and work of Christ Jesus. Our value is rooted in His great love for us. In light of these truths, we do the daily work of educating, not for identity and value, but from it. In light of these truths, our work is infused with meaning, fueled with energy, and tempered with humility. Knowledge of this family relationship in Christ likewise creates the fundamental security necessary for students to acknowledge their ignorance and gather information in pursuit of wisdom.”
We love our children dearly as homeschool moms, but sometimes it can be hard being isolated from other adults. Lisa was frank about the loneliness that can be so hard for many of us: “The hardest part was not having adult interactions every day. I am an extrovert and homeschooling has been excruciatingly painfully lonely at times.”
Katherine mentioned being “always on” was a struggle as she dealt with the “intense, all day responsibility for children.”
Failing to meet our own expectations can be such a discouragement, can’t it? Mari said one of the hardest parts of homeschooling for her was “feeling overwhelmed some days when I didn’t feel that we’d accomplished all I’d expected.”
Many of these struggles sound very familiar to those of us in the trenches today, don’t they? Thankfully, we’re generally not facing the very real struggle Jewel faced even finding materials that fit an outside-the-box homeschool approach: “When I started I had a very hard time finding materials that fit my philosophy. Almost everyone I knew used a prepackaged, fill in the blank, workbook style of curriculum. The law had SC families a few years behind in many areas.”
“One sweet mom from NC invested time in my life, helping me find resources that fit my eclectic style. A new family moved up from FL, and as I described to her what I wished for, she…was kind enough to loan me [a] book. I had studied education in high school and college and felt strongly that children will learn and remember better when they can use as many senses as possible. After using my FL friend’s book for a year, I began my journey of collecting materials that taught from the perspective Francis Schaeffer taught. All of life is to be considered together: history influences art, math influences science, and vice versa.”
6. What was your favorite part of homeschooling?
While homeschooling can be challenging, it can also be a delight. Do you recognize some of your own favorite parts of homeschooling in these responses?
Lisa Hajda enthused, “I love, love, love being around my kids, watching them grow, sharing literature with them, having valuable discussions, watching them interact as siblings, taking trips, hearing their music, seeing their creativity…”
Kristin Moon agrees! She loves “learning beside my kids and instilling in them the joy of learning.”
“Reading aloud for hours and hours” was one of Katherine Weitz’s favorite parts of homeschooling!
Mari Fitz-Wynn mentioned “watching my children learn a new concept or master something we’d been learning” and “seeing our children interacting with one another” as a few of her favorite parts of homeschooling.
Missy Andrews loved that she was there for all of it. “I loved cultivating an appetite for learning in my kids: reading aloud to my littles, kiddos snuggled in around me to see the pictures. Canceling classes because the chapter book we were reading was just too engrossing to stop. Organic conversations about the permanent things occasioned by the story we just read. I loved planning the year’s curriculum, creating a banquet of booklists for each individual child. That lightbulb moment when my children learned to read or discovered a connection between the various disciplines or solved a difficult problem was electric. I loved the teachable moments that arose in the middle of a mundane day, that occasion that offered a metaphor or living illustration of a principle we were discussing or a lesson we were studying. I love that I was there for all of it.”
In the midst of challenges like limited resources and unknowns, Jewel found joy “watching The Lord provide exactly what our children needed in their development despite having a limited budget, even when I didn’t know exactly what they needed.” She also loved “the freedom to discover things together with our children! To watch the light bulbs go off and our kids light up with excitement over discovering something new. To be free to meet the individual needs of our children.”
7. Would you do anything differently if you were beginning your homeschool journey today?
Do you sometimes wish you could go back and start homeschooling at the beginning, knowing what you know now? I was curious… what would these veteran homeschool moms do differently if they began their homeschool journey today? Was there anything they stressed over back then that turned out not to worry so much at the end?
Katherine Weitz said she would, “Read aloud more; worry less about “academics”!” She also noted that “several of my children were late readers and struggled with fine motor skills,” but it didn’t end up being a problem in the end.
Lisa Hajda would focus more on finding commonality in her community: “I would make an effort earlier to find moms who shared my philosophy of education.” But when it comes to things she used to stress over? Lisa said, “To be honest, I don’t stress about homeschooling outcomes much because I enjoy it so much and I have confidence that my kids can do what they need to do when they need to do it.”
“If anything I would love to be the parent I was later in our kids’ lives from the very beginning,” commented Jewel. “I love that The Lord is transforming us from glory to glory, but I hate that our kids have to experience our growth, with all of our mistakes, as children of God. If only we could be as mature at the beginning as we were at the end. This I entrust to His perfect hands! I know our kids learned much from my imperfect journey, like how to pray for your parent!”
Jewel’s next comment made me giggle, especially since she had been at the forefront of the legal battle to defend homeschooling in her state. She said, “When our oldest was in high school I became worried over what we would use for – ok, don’t laugh – government of all things!!! Please remember this was in the early years when there really wasn’t a lot of material available to us that met my standards.
I called a college professor friend and his advice to me was so confirming. He asked me why was I looking for a ‘textbook’ when the best our student could do was to read original source documents and do a project that involved the practice of government. Our state was just entering a gubernatorial election year which provided the experience of a lifetime!” If you follow me elsewhere, you know I can get behind a textbook-free approach to learning!
Kristin Moon said, “I would try not to worry so much. We didn’t get it all done perfectly. My boys graduated with gaps in their learning, but the world didn’t end. The gaps were easy to fill since they had learned how to find the answers they needed.” She also mentioned that she “would spend more time making sure my boys knew how to study for and take tests.” Kristin acknowledged that there were things she “stressed over a lot (I’m a perfectionist and a worrier). But now I see so clearly how the Lord used the broken, unfinished, and hard things to grow all of us.”
“Finishing the book” was a stressor that Mari Fitz-Wynn now realizes wasn’t important. If she were starting homeschooling anew, she said she would “spend more time designing our curriculum, and tailoring it more to the needs of each child. I would know how to manage my time better so I could see it through to the end.”
Sometimes, though, it’s not the homeschooling that stresses us out. It’s the laundry! Missy Andrews’s lament is one I think we can all relate to: “I stressed over the laundry. Every. Single. Day. I was overwhelmed by the laundry. Now, the kids are all out of the house and the laundry room is tidy. Imagine.”
On a more serious note, however, Missy said that if she were starting homeschooling over again? She would “de-emphasize grades and emphasize the learning process. I would major in modeling that learning process for my kids, rather than feeling the need to master every subject we wanted to study. I would remind my kids and myself daily that their performance had nothing to do with their value.”
8. Any days you spent worried that your kids were behind…was it ever true when they entered the workforce/college?
Do you worry about gaps in your children’s education? Will they get to college or enter the workforce and be woefully behind? I asked these veteran homeschool moms to share their own experience.
Mari found her confidence was justified: “I did not spend one day worrying about it, and they took several CLEP tests and entered in as sophomores or 2nd semester freshman.”
Lisa, also, never worried about this. She explained, “We have a large family so we had plenty of ‘baby seasons’ and seasons of other serious struggles. But I know my children are lifelong learners and if they need to know something, they will learn it. My kids have followed a variety of career paths and those who went to college had no problems. No one ever knows everything!”
“No one knows everything” was an idea echoed by Missy: “Of course! There will be gaps in your child’s education. There are gaps in your own education, aren’t there? I mean, who really knows it all? But the kids have done well post-homeschool. They have managed to get up to speed and fill in those gaps along the way where it was necessary. They know how to learn.
Four have college degrees. Two are currently in college. One is applying for a graduate program in divinity school. Four are gainfully employed. Three are married. Two have become home owners. One will welcome his first child in July. They are thriving. The time I spent worrying about their performance was largely vain. I say largely because I think the efforts I made to identify problems and find solutions was beneficial. But the worry was never warranted. God is faithful, and He uses even our weakness to do His strong work in our children’s lives.”
Kristin and Katherine
Kristin found this same thing to be true. She found her children were “able to teach themselves and fill the gaps quickly when needed.”
Katherine said, “Of course I worried, and absolutely they never were [behind].”
The Lord used, of all things, a state-mandated standardized test to encourage Jewel to not worry about the outcomes of their home education but to trust in His faithfulness: “At the end of our child’s first grade, a standardized test had to be administered by a school official in our home. There was one question in particular that sealed this question in a coffin! This first grader was asked on the test what ‘inference’ could be drawn from the evidence given. When the child asked the official what that word was, the response was that they could not give out any information. Our child answered the question perfectly!”
“After learning how to think in our home, the student simply made a reasonable deduction. The administrator told me about it because she was so impressed by our child. You see, the students in the public school are drilled with certain vocabulary in order to obtain a high score on these tests! The Lord told me, ‘Just follow Me, do as I lead, and I will take care of the results!’
“When it came time to enter college and then the work force, He held to His promise. I am truly humbled when I look back at what He did! And you know the best part, He gets ALL of the glory because I never could have manipulated nor controlled the circumstances that He did to get our kids where He wanted them serving Him.”
9. How did homeschooling affect you as a homeschool parent? Are there any particular personal lessons you learned?
Homeschooling affects more than the children. It influences the homeschool parents as well. Here are a few of the lessons homeschooling taught these veteran homeschool moms:
“I learned patience. I’m still learning to lean on God and accept that I am not in control of the universe. I learned a lot more about the parent heart of God,” said Kristin Moon.
Missy Andrews reflected, “Everybody told me that homeschooling was great because it gives you a second chance at your own educations. You can fill in those gaps, right? But my understanding of what an education actually is changed dramatically as I taught my six children. I have come to believe that education is not the mastery of subjects or the filling of cups. Education is that process of coming to know oneself, the world, and one’s peculiar place within it. The truly educated person has discovered that he is not a master, but a subject and demonstrates the humility that inevitably accompanies such a revelation.”
I loved these words from Lisa Hajda: “I learned that I am NOT my kids’ savior. I cannot guarantee their spiritual outcome. I knew this in my head, obviously, but now I know it. No homeschooling atmosphere can guarantee a child’s spiritual life.”
Jewel combined the lessons she learned with some encouragement for us: “One lesson I learned actually came from the vice principal who had to review our child’s work twice a year. Her perspective toward me was different than other school officials because she was a believer and she had cancer. She had an eternal perspective! She saw the work our child was doing and told me to quit holding them back, let them go to learn and grow even if it was “above grade level.” Then she told me I would never regret these years!”
“Another particular lesson I learned along the way was to embrace the lessons that fell into our laps. For example the little green tree frog that jumped onto our grocery cart as we walked through the palm trees for sale outside. If I was braver, I would have scooped it into something and taken it home, studied it more and then found a good home for it. Although, for this momma, when our son saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road and wanted to bring it home to make a coonskin hat, I flatly refused. My encouragement is be brave, be bold, and embrace the adventures!”
Mari and Katherine
Mari Fitz-Wynn reflected on the gift of each day: “I never realized how much joy teaching my own children would bring. I learned that each day is a gift, (even the hard ones).”
Katherine Weitz discovered what so many of us have as we educate our own children: “It was the start of my true education. What I thought was a sacrifice for my children’s sake ended up being a gift for my own.”
10. What differences, if any, do you notice in the new generation of homeschoolers compared to the early days?
After exploring their personal stories, I was curious if these mamas had any thoughts on the current generation of homeschoolers. I also wondered what changes or areas of growth they’d like to see as we continue on in this homeschool adventure.
There was near unanimous agreement among our veteran homeschool moms that some of the greatest advantages of contemporary homeschooling can also be some of our greatest areas of struggle.
Missy Andrews noted, “There seems to be much less individualism in the newest generation of homeschoolers. The ‘old guard’ homeschooled in the face of tremendous social and political pressures that they perceived as clear and present dangers to their children. Today, homeschooling is much more mainstream. Most don’t feel the need to keep the living room curtains closed and the kids indoors until after 3:00 each day. That’s a good thing. Yet the opposition our predecessors faced galvanized a vision and a tenacity within them that some of this generation may lack.”
“Today’s homeschool curriculum marketplace is replete with options. That’s a benefit. Yet, this easy access to curriculum may have obviated the larger perceived need for ingenuity in the daily affair of home education. Early homeschool families swimming upstream culturally found security in relationships within the family. Many of today’s homeschool families look instead to identify with groups outside of the family. Some join homeschool organizations not merely for support, but for identity. Homeschool organizations often define a brand or an ethos, rather than merely providing educational resources.”
“Another effect of homeschooling becoming much more mainstream is that individual homeschoolers are sometimes less ideologically motivated. They might homeschool one year and public school the next. I think this puts pressure on curriculum vendors to emphasize and coordinate grade level curriculums with state standards so that kids don’t get lost in the mix. I wonder if this admixture of philosophies and forces driving the creation of curriculum shifts the emphasis away from learning.”
Lisa Hajda also noted that challenge that so many resources and options brings with it: “Some younger homeschooling moms seem to have so many curricula options that they waffle frequently. I also see a lot of moms homeschooling for a few years and not committing to the long haul. I think this happened in the early generation, too, but I am seeing it more now.”
Mari and Katherine
Mari Fitz-Wynn said that we today “obviously have more freedom to provide learning opportunities for the students and better access to resources. It is also easier to connect with each other,” especially on social media.
Katherine Weitz also mentioned that there are “so many more options and opportunities,” and reflected that there are also “the added blessings and stresses that those bring!”
Jewel finds parallels with cultural challenges in general: “I believe the differences are reflective of our culture in general. People are handed things instantly. Prayer and research are so helpful for hearing and knowing what God wants you to do. If you are choosing a doctor to deliver a baby, would you do the research to find out what you prefer and know what to expect as much as possible? Or would you walk into a doctor’s office with a ‘just tell me what to do’ attitude?
When you know [homeschooling] is what God has called you to it seems to enable people to not be easily swayed back and forth with every “wind” of curriculum trend that comes and goes. Also, today other people or things do the work for us. Alexa, Siri, robot vacuums, or even other people. I am incredibly thankful we had a no-tech life “back in our day,” and our son apparently agreed. He spent 16 years working with youth at our church. One day he came to me and thanked me for limiting his computer time! He was 12 before we even bought a computer. 🙂
I am thankful for computers and all that they can assist us in doing! In fact both of our “kids” use and need computers for their work. But nothing substitutes for face time with our kids, getting out exploring and learning together, and reading real books!”
Jewel also said she would love to see these upcoming generations of homeschoolers realize the sky is the limit! “! I would love to see them reach for it!!! And it may mean fighting for it. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! In the Silicon Valley they are looking for those who are thinking outside of the box. Exercise those muscles and stretch minds to know His Word and the world we live in. Be like the Bereans.”
Missy, Katherine and Lisa
Missy would like to see “a deemphasis on identity building through and branding and an upsurge of grace-centered support groups. I’d like to see the spread of a Christ-centric vision for home education and a de-emphasis of the personal achievement/glory story so central to performance based education.”
“More collaboration and community with other like-minded families, particularly in middle and high school years, as well as those with a passion for educating the next generation offering their gifts for the larger community as much as possible,” is something Katherine would like to see in the years ahead.
Lisa’s desire for future homeschoolers shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same! She said, “I hope more homeschoolers can embrace the value of not just replicating public school at home!”
Follow Up with these Veteran Homeschool Moms
Leave comments below if you have any follow-up questions or words of encouragement for these sweet veteran homeschool moms, and I will make sure it gets to them! I’ve also included their websites below where relevant.
- Katherine Weitz (Cottage Press Publishing
- Kristin Moon (Kristin Moon Science)
- Lisa Hajda (Generational Homeschooling)
- Mari Fitz-Wynn (Heart for Homeschool Ministries)
- MissyAndrews (CenterforLit)
Homeschool Generations: To Be Continued
Thank you so much to each of these dear veteran homeschool moms for taking the time to answer these questions and share their hearts with us! I hope hearing from these real-life, veteran homeschool moms has been an encouragement. And I hope, too, it has challenged you to think about your own home education adventure just a little bit differently.
pssst: you’ll be hearing a few more words of advice from these veteran homeschool moms in the final installment of this Homeschool Generations series later this summer! So be sure you bookmark this site and subscribe to the Homeschool Conversations with Humility and Doxology podcast so you don’t miss the final 2 installments of the series!
I can’t wait to share the rest of this blog series with you! Look for Part 3 here on The Curriculum Choice in July. You’ll hear from eight 2nd-generation, veteran homeschool moms with a wide range of perspectives.
And, of course, you can hear more homeschooling stories and encouragement each week on my Homeschool Conversations podcast.