Do you really want your kids to live in a bubble?

We all come to a moment when we’re faced with our ideals for our families. Will we use these 18 (or remaining 12, 8, or 3) years to teach our children chiefly by experience or by beautiful books, by providing a stable, calm home to launch them from, or an exciting, risk-filled childhood to build their character? At what point will we set them out further into the world? At what moments do we draw them back? How will they thrive and what’s right for which child? While all parents come to this crossroads, the home educator must engage these questions not only from the perspective of a naturally protective parent but as a teacher who challenges and stretches their student. Finding the balance can be exhausting.

And the world we live in is at unrest. Political and social disruption are raging on our streets, on our screens, and in our hearts. Even our neighbor children have been tucked away safely at home for months, trying to avoid a global pandemic. The question no longer is “Are your children really socialized?” Because, suddenly, over socialization is a universal threat to health. There is a common feeling of ‘survival mode’ instead. How can we keep our families safe? How do we talk to our children about racism, protests, and rioting? How do we do the right thing by our children, regarding their hearts, their education, and the raw, ugly truths of our world?

Homeschooling affords our families freedom. That freedom is the downright precious commodity that we cling to and praise when we find our favorite curriculum, take breaks in the middle of November or February, sell our homes to live in an RV for a year, pursue Dual Enrollment courses, or experience a family crisis that breaks down normal routine. That freedom also affords our home schools the ability to educate in the midst of upheaval with a vigorous commitment. The world is on fire, and our kids may be “safe at home”. But that’s the time lesson plans change and we revisit American history so we better know our rights. We dig deeper into civil unrest of the past. We interview older friends for their firsthand experiences. We read living books, biographies and autobiographies of people who have come before and saw the beginning stirrings of what we see now. That’s when we dig a little deeper into past pandemics, their beginnings and their ends. We write formal letters and emails to local leaders. That’s when we spend entire school days serving the oppressed, sickened, and impoverished around us. The rubber hits the road in times of crises, in our faith and in our commitment to homeschooling. And when the world is too much to bear, we learn to cope by writing fiction, prose, screenplays, scores, or essays that will act as a healing balm to hurting souls. 

Home education is not a call to retreat. Now, more than ever, it is a call to action. Our responsibility is not to shield our children from society, creating a bubble that calls it merely “the way we see it”. Rather, home education allows us to build a path that explores and engages with the way others “see it” in compassionate, active, and affective ways. We have the opportunity to teach from our faith and our dearest beliefs about the world, while allowing room for our households to grow and evolve as Scripture, experience, and time instructs. 

The work is getting harder…for all parents. Teaching our children feels overwhelming as we’re faced with unprecedented times in unprecedented timeframes. For those of us who have chosen home education, these are the moments ripe with possibility. This is when we can change the narrative of our families’ perspectives, shaping young hearts with a relevant, sharp education that prepares them wholeheartedly for the future, even when we ourselves can’t imagine what that will look like. 

Casey Sigler
Casey Sigler

Horizon Homeschooling Tutor &
Host of The Scatterbook Podcast

Homeschool sanity? Now, I am THAT mom!

I see life in pictures and I see pictures everywhere, in movies, math, running…  If you were to ask one of my students how I explain square roots, you may laugh at the crazy way my mind sees life in math.  So when asked to answer the question:

“Why use a homeschool tutorial?”

I think they were expecting me to write a list. However, instead I am going to share a picture, actually three pictures. There are more, but these are my story.

My homeschooling journey began before I ever had children. I was a private tutor and then I homeschooled other people’s children. Needless to say by the time I had my own kids…

I felt invincible!

Homeschooling was awesome!

And then my real journey began. When our first child was born it was a no-brainer to homeschool.

     I got this!

My first child was a typical first child-overachiever, curious, hard working. We did more school her preschool year then I did with any  of my children in grade school.

     I was a homeschool genius.
 I was fun. I was patient.
This was a breeze.

We did school in the morning, but she napped in the afternoon. That meant I could do it all: have a clean  house, dinner on the table, and an educated child.

Don’t hate me yet because there’s more story to come.

Then we entered that strange phase in life called middle school when aliens abduct the body of your normal sweet elementary school child and return someone that you barely recognize. That new child told me she didn’t want to do projects anymore, no lapbooks, nothing fun just please give me workbooks. ( I may or may not have shed a tear or ten. )

However, I also had another child by that time and I was feeling less then fabulous about my homeschooling skills. Fast forward another few years and the alien abduction had taken it’s full course, i.e. high school had begun, and replaced my middle schooler with a teenager that could just stare at a blank computer screen for hours and accomplish nothing. We had hit the wall.

I was now that mom. That mom that had to tell her child when to eat, what to eat, when to sleep, what to clean, when to clean, when she could go out, how she should treat her siblings, in addition to being the mom that had to constantly nag about completing school.   It was miserable.

That is when the homeschool tutorial entered my life, and it was amazing.

It stopped all those questions based on my insecurities. Questions about whether or not I was pushing her hard enough, pushing her too hard, was she getting a good education, would she hate me by the time we were done with all of this?

She now answered to someone else. I got to be the good guy for a change. “Oh, you have a 10 page paper due tomorrow?  That is awful,  but that’s OK baby, you’re amazing!  You can do it!” I was now a compassionate  cheerleader and it felt good. And she rose to the occasion.  All of the sudden she could get her homework done on time. She still waited until the last possible minute, but it was getting done. She thrived being responsible to someone else. And now we enjoyed car rides of tales of her classes and classmates. We got to process life together because I was not always at the center of it.

Which was good, because by this time child number two was giving me second, third, and fourth thoughts about my ability to homeschool. She hated learning; she hated school.  No amount of fun could make it any more interesting. She just didn’t like it and it was hard. Really hard. It took her longer to understand concepts.   She cried; I cried; it was miserable. No more clean house, no more dinner on the table on time, my house was madness. What made it worse is that I didn’t have anything to show for it at the end of the day.

Enter home school tutorial again. With much fear and trepidation we started her at a tutorial. I honestly wasn’t sure what she could do. We had gotten ourselves a year and a half behind in math so we had to do more school that year than I thought was humanly possible at any age. But she rose to the occasion. She wanted to be at the same level as her peers so she worked really really hard; eventually she wanted to be at the top. My husband said it is the best educational decision we ever made because we had been inadvertently undermining her education. We just didn’t know. School was so much easier for the first one and  we let that dictate how much we expected of the second one.

She got ahead in math and has stayed ahead. Her educational capacity has by far exceeded our expectations. She still works way harder than her sister has to, but since she always has, she expects it and doesn’t kick against it. She is able to do everything that we’ve put before her.  Which will include Dual Enrollment her junior year. I am so thankful.

But wait there’s more; there’s child number three. This is the current story that is still being written.  As a math tutor I know it’s not mathematically possible to have three children that are completely opposite. However, sometimes life overrides math,  because that’s what we have, three  completely opposite children.

The third child struggled. I thought I was prepared after the second, but this was a different type of struggle.  The second one struggled, but reading came easily. Not so with the third. I think my husband thought we weren’t doing school, but I did more reading with him than I did with my other two girls combined. It was so hard. I told new homeschoolers that I hated homeschooling.

I was now THAT mom. The one who inwardly rolled her eyes at their energetic enthusiasm, at their stories of teaching Latin to 5 year old, and how they just loved the quality time they were spending with their kids.

I was struggling to not have mine waiting on the curb when their dad got home… and yes, one day I did tell my husband that is where he would find his children if he didn’t start praying for me. He did and they weren’t. In essence, I started resenting the moms that were just like me when I started.

I knew that homeschooling wasn’t bad. I just needed to find a different way. This fabulous boy of mine was curious. We read history and he wanted to know all the why’s.  We had to Google things from the textbooks because he wanted more.  He wanted to do the experiments. All of them. The problem is that now I’ve homeschooled for over 20 years and I’m tired. I want him to have that fun experience, but I don’t know if I know how to be fun anymore.

A homeschool tutorial solves the problem of his inquisitiveness by feeding him in a way that I don’t know that I can do anymore. With two sisters five and 10 years older than he is, it gives him the social interaction at his level that he craves. It gives him a chance to answer to another authority other than me, which I think is so important for all of my kids.

It may even give me a chance to breathe.

Because they lie when they tell you that you’re done parenting when your child goes to college… It’s just not true.

Does my story sound dramatic? Maybe. But I feel dramatic too. I am super thankful that our homeschool tutorial allows me to share my drama with someone else. And I am so happy as a tutor to share the drama of another family. It feels different when it is someone else’s. And when all of this drama is shared… homeschooling feels doable.

Jenny Radmer
Jenny Radmer

Horizon Homeschooling Tutor
& THAT Mom!