“I could never homeschool my kids,” my mom told a neighbour friend and homeschooling mom, Mrs. L. That was just before my twin brother and I started kindergarten at the Christian school in town. By the time we rode the bus home on the last day of school in the spring, my mom had changed her mind. My brother and I told our bus driver he wouldn’t see us in the fall, because our mom was going to homeschool us.
There were many days over the next few years when Mom again thought, “I can’t do this.” What got her through those days was Mrs. L’s support. Mrs. L had homeschooled her children from Grade 1 and was about six years ahead of Mom. My brothers and I knew that when Mom was on the phone with Mrs. L, it could be a long conversation. We dubbed these conversations Mom had with another parent who was also a teacher her parent-teacher interviews.
Mrs. L was there to listen to Mom’s frustrations about my brothers not learning to read as fast as I was. She advised a change in curriculum when Mom complained of having to teach me long division over again every day because I couldn’t remember how I’d done it the day before. Some years later, when Mrs. L’s youngest boys weren’t learning to read as fast as her older boys had, she was the one on the phone with Mom, who could now look at my brothers, sprawled on the couches with their noses in their books, and say, “They’ll learn. Give them time.”
Homeschooling has its up and down days, its frustrations as well as its joys. As I look back on my homeschooling, from the distance of a few years, I remember more of the joys than the frustrations. But I also remember those hour-long “parent-teacher interviews” and I know what a different it made to Mom to have another homeschooling mom close enough to talk to and share those frustrations with.
Today, the Internet makes it easier than ever to connect with other homeschoolers. You can still pick up the phone to chat with the homeschooler down the street. But you might also get into an online forum and chat with a mom across the country whom you’ve never met—but who is having the same problem teaching her kids that you are. Whether you are able to have long “parent-teacher interviews,” blog about your experiences, or find an online forum to share them in, make sure that you do have other homeschoolers to share not only the joys of homeschooling, but also the frustrations.
This is part of an article originally published in the January 2009 WISDOM Family Magazine.