Why do families choose to homeschool? The circumstances and reasons are varied. In the “Our Path to Here” series, we tell you our stories.
I confess. I’m a recovering judger of homeschoolers. I mean, it’s just not normal. At least that’s what I thought all my growing-up years attending a (wonderful) Lutheran grade school and high school. My exposure to homeschooling was limited, and those homeschoolers I did know just didn’t fit into my preconceived box of what “normal” ought to be.
Fast forward multiple years: I’m a college student at Bethany Lutheran College, and one of the dearest, neatest people I meet is – gasp! – a homeschooled gal. We end up rooming together for two years, she becomes a bridesmaid in my wedding and, down the road, a Godmother to one of our sons. Other homeschooled friends and acquaintances from the college and church scene further opened my eyes to this world of, well, really talented, intelligent, and compassionate people.
Though my lense of normal was broadening, after two kids I still couldn’t picture myself as a homeschooling mom. To be honest, it sounded completely overwhelming; and – here comes another confession – part of me was looking forward to sending my kids off to school so I’d have a little more “me” time. Some of those days with small children as a new, young, sleepless mother…well, kindergarten couldn’t come soon enough!
Little did I know, the homeschooling seed had been planted and was starting to sprout in the recesses of my mind. After moving closer to family, welcoming son #3, and making some pretty major diet changes, it was time to make our decision about kindergarten. Boy, was that hard. Our new church had an excellent school with a lot of dear people serving in it. It finally came down to “if we don’t try it (homeschooling), we’ll never know. Let’s take one year at a time.”
My husband – himself a successful product of yet another great parochial school – was skeptical, but supportive of this year-by-year motto. He figured I couldn’t ruin our kid at the kindergarten level! (He is now fully convinced of the value of homeschooling, by the way, while still re-evaluating things every year.) That first year involved a lot of back-and-forth emotions, but went well enough that our motto extended into the next year. Now my kids were getting older and more independent; I was having interesting, intelligent conversations with them; and, to my surprise, I was learning a whole lot of information right along with them. History, especially, became fascinating, whereas it had been my most loathed subject as a school-aged child.
Other benefits to homeschooling gradually became apparent. My kids (generally) relished their friendship and camaraderie with each other. Our mornings were relaxed, not rushed. Our time together was never perfect, but it bonded us together. When our daughter arrived last year, we were home together as a family; she and our oldest son have developed this fierce bond that may not have happened had he been at school during her infancy. We laughed together at the baby’s antics. We cried together during tough times. We had the freedom to get together with family whenever it worked; this blessing would become especially precious as my mom’s health declined. The days that my kids had with their dear grandma gave them lasting memories of her, and, more importantly, taught them the value of family and of dying with a strong faith in Jesus. Our motto is still “one year at a time.” We feel blessed to be able to homeschool but also have a faithful parochial school option. We’re definitely not “normal” – but that’s okay. Our kids are still young, and it’s hard to predict the future, but for now, I confess: I’m really glad to be a homeschooling mom.
Karyn Lukasek is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran College, where she majored in Studio Art. She and her husband, Mike, have been blessed with four children – Isaac, Matthias, Abel, and Elsiana – who keep them on their toes. In her sporadic free time, Karyn enjoys writing and illustrating children’s books, reading, and spending time with family and friends.