Recently, I’ve been asked a few times, by different people, why we homeschool. And my answers satisfied them, but not me. I was challenged to sit down and figure out why exactly I’m doing this. Here’s my list, so far..

1. First and foremost, we are homeschooling because we believe it’s a command of God. Children are a blessing, and an inheritance of the Lord. And God said that we, the parents, were to train them, to teach them of His law and His love “as you go out, and as you come it, when you rise up and when you lay down, when you eat and when you walk in the way..” (My paraphrase) and to us that means all the time. Which follows that it is impossible to teach our children if they aren’t there.. So they must stay home so we can teach them.

2. We homeschool so we can teach our children the truth. We want them to know the truth of where they came from and how much they are loved, the truth about authority and obedience, the truth about right and wrong, about origins and destiny. Not the humanistic, materialistic nonsense our public institutions teach, but rather we want our children to know what’s real, and not just made up. And, we want them to know the other side too, so they can defend the faith, rightly dividing the Word of God.

3. We keep our children home so they can learn about the real world. Often people claim that homeschoolers shelter kids, and that is possible…if you are a hermit, but we choose to expose our girls to the real world, with parental guidance so they will be able to deal with it when they are independent. There is no age segregation in the real world. There are no bells to tell you to switch activities, no neat lines, no boxes to check off, and no gold stars just for showing up. Life is a bit more complex than a classroom, and decisions and relationships are messier than recess and homework.
4. We homeschool because we don’t believe “one size fits all.” The cookie-cutter, assembly-line approach done by most primary and secondary education institutions fits only a select handful, and everyone else is crammed into the mold. We believe that education is an art, and that training our children is like creating a sculpture – chiselling off the rough spots and excesses to reveal the masterpiece within the rock. The masterpiece that God created them to be is what we’re after.

5. We homeschool to give our children the best foundation in the skills needed for life – researching (gathering information), recording (collecting the info all in one spot), reasoning (making connections with the information, solving problems, and forming opinions), reflecting (showing and presenting the information, your solution and opinion in a logical and concise way), and rhetoric (persuading someone else that your opinion or solution fits the information as you see it). It’s not the 3Rs, but the 5Rs that matter.

6. We homeschool to foster not just their minds and bodies, but their hearts as well. The best school in the world cannot reach the heart. Nurturing a child’s heart takes a relationship, and developing a relationship takes time. We will not waste the time we have with them by sending them away from us for 30+ hours a week! Instead, we keep them close, so we can get to know them. Besides which, I didn’t have children just to let someone else raise them.

7. We homeschool so our children’s gifts and talents can be developed to their fullest, without compromising on their spiritual, emotional and physical health. We have the time to take special classes or join teams in music, dance, science, sports — all those areas that combined with formal school result in over-scheduled kids, who are exhausted and underfed emotionally and spiritually. Our children can rest when they need it, and have lots of time with mom and dad, even if they were to be out every night with one activity or another.

8. We homeschool to be a family. With the opportunities offered today, it’s easy to get so busy that a family sees each other only in passing. But homeschooling gives that opportunity to place a priority on family time. So we’re a little old-fashioned.. mom stays home and dad is the provider.. and we are a family, learning, growing and spending time together.

I thank God we live in a country and province that has enshrined the right of parents to parent – including choosing the education of their children. So many societies, under the influence of social engineers and social Darwinism, have done their best to destroy the family. But our children will stay where they belong, at home, until they are ready to start their own families and have their own homes. Because we believe that’s the way God intended.

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Anger is one of the leading causes of family breakdown, and always has been. The sociologists and anthropologists use terms such as “lack of communication” and “incompatibilty” but what it boils down to is the feelings of displeasure, annoyance and antagonism as a result of a perceived wrong. One person thinks the other has “done them wrong” and resents it, holding it against them, and then does them wrong in return, and the cycle continues.

So what is anger? Anger, in and of itself, is not sinful. It is part of our God-designed emotional makeup, just as love, sorrow and joy are. It is, essentially, the instant displeasure at perceived evil. Unfortunately for humanity, sin has corrupted our anger, just as it has corrupted everything else. We still feel that instant displeasure, but our viewpoint of “evil” is more often selfishly motivated than the godly anger we are called to have, at sin and sinners. It is more often “He took my toy” than “He stole their innocence”. The petty annoyances and selfish trivialities we concentrate on cloud our sight to the true injustices of sin.

Anger only becomes sinful when it is without reason, excessive, or goes on longer than is reasonable. When we are angry over minor grievances, we sin. When we are furious at the slightest perceived wrong, we sin. When we hold a grudge, we sin. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus compared our anger to murder, and warned that the punishments would be the same.

Anger is most devestating in the family. Isn’t it always true that we hurt most the ones we love best? When 50% of marriages end in divorce, because one or both partners are angry, we know there’s a problem. But anger has always been the root cause of family breakdown. Resentment, unforgiveness, bitterness – they are all rooted in anger.

It goes back to the first family, in Genesis. We see the first children, Cain and Abel, making offerings to the Lord. Abel understood the principle of blood washing sin, and offered the appropriate sacrifice, while Cain, offering his best, did not understand. Yet instead of letting his jealousy motivate him to do better next time, he let his anger simmer. In his anger, causeless, beyond reasonable, and held on to long after the felt offense, he attacked his brother, and killed him. His punishment? Banishment from God’s presence and his family. Already, the first family, and the first family breakdown.

We see family breakdown again in the story of Abraham. That patriarch of our faith was a father in a dysfunctional family. He had an affair and the affair resulted in a child. When his mistress lorded it over his wife, in his anger, he banished his mistress and his son. His anger, his wife’s anger, and his mistress’s anger all caused this dysfunctional family. The result? One angry young man, whose legacy to his descendants is anger, war, “everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (Genesis 16:12)

The solution, however, is simple. God’s Word tells us exactly how to handle anger appropriately. First, when anger is being held against us, we are to be calm, gentle, and praying for that person. Second, repentence and forgiveness will erase anger. And third, we are not to be angry in the first place, except for what angers God.

First, how to handle someone else’s anger: Proverbs 15:1 provides the key. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Or try Proverbs 21:14, “A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.” Jesus told us to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44). He also said that when someone is legitimately angry with us, we are to immediately go to them and ask forgiveness: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24) As Christians, we are called to live in peace with everyone, as far as it is up to us to do so. (Romans 12:18)

Second, when we perceive a wrong done against us, and we are angry, God gives us instructions. They are very simple. One word, really: Forgive. Do I need to repeat that? Forgive. Jesus gives us a reason in Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” He offered the story of the unforgiving debtor to illustrate this principle. (Matthew 18:23-35) The man who owed the king much was forgiven, but he turned around and did not forgive someone else who owed him a little. Interestingly enough, this story was given just before Jesus described marriage as being God-intended for life, without cause for divorce (except unfaithfulness). Forgiveness is simply giving up your right to hold the other person to account, your right to “prosecute”. When we give up our right to say “You owe me,” give that right to God, (who promised His own retribution in Romans 12:19), we are forgiving the other, and saying to them, in effect, “you are free to go.” (By the way, forgiveness and trust are two different things. Forgiveness is NOT saying what they did is ok, just that you’re leaving it up to God to collect what they owe you, and letting them go.) God is much better at holding others to account for their sin than we ever will be, and unforgiveness simply hurts us. Being angry here is self-destructive, and giving the one who hurt us way more power than they deserve. Give it to God, and let Him take care of it, and you will be and feel much better.

Finally, the best way to deal with anger, is to simply not get angry at anything other than what God Himself is angry at: sin. In Proverbs, we are to stay away from those who get angry easily (Proverbs 22:24). In Ephesians, and Colossions, anger is listed as part of those character traits we are to get rid of (Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8). Paul cautions us that in our anger we do not sin (Ephesians 4:26) by holding on too long. James tells us to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19) and that “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). Instead, we are told to “bear with each another, and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13) and to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

Anger, petty human anger, has no place in any relationship, much less the family. Our anger destroys, but thank God, His love rebuilds, renews and restores. Follow His commands, and you’ll see it for yourself.

To submit — Dictionary.com gives this definition: to give over or yield to the power or authority of another.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? To voluntarily give someone else power or authority over yourself is something that no human being wants to do, nor do we do well. Yet, this is what God calls every single believer to: submission.

A true believer is called to submit to God. We who desire to follow Jesus are to give over to His power and authority. Most of us can accept this. After all, shouldn’t the Creator of the Universe, the One who made us and knows us inside out, the One who gave His life for us, be trusted to know what’s best for us? Working this out daily may be tougher than accepting it, but still, for the sincere, submission to Jesus is not something we actively fight against, knowingly.

But, the Christian woman has another calling to submit – to the male authority in her life. This is a much, much, harder to accept and accomplish. Especially in this world of feminism and “equality, we rebel against this actively, and almost, angrily.

Why should a man be over me? we argue. What makes him any better than me? I can do just as much and more than he can! We justify ourselves: well, if he would lead better, I could submit better. If he would just do his job, I would do mine.

Feminism has deceived even the Christian woman into thinking submission is an outdated, old-fashioned model of marriage, and that it leads to at best, discrimination and loss of identity, and at worst, abuse. None of this is true. Submission is the model God put into place for the best. It allows for the best way for a woman to shine, use her gifts to the fullest and be protected, spiritually, physically, financially, mentally, or socially.

So why do we argue and resist God’s best plan so much? I believe it’s because we have been lied to about true submission. Some of those lies include: that submission means he’s better than me and somehow I have less value than him, that submission means I don’t get a say, I’m not allowed to have opinion, and that submission means I have to do whatever he says, even to the point of abuse.

All of these lies come from a wrong understanding of submission and a wrong understanding of leadership. Submission does not equal slavery. Submission, real submission, means less responsibility, and more freedom. Leadership doesn’t equal dictatorship, but rather, it means less self-interest, more responsibility and service to others. As someone who has been in an abusive marriage, I’ve struggled with these concepts. Sin has corrupted marriage, like everything else, and both my husband and I had wrong ideas of marriage, leadership and submission, which caused our marriage to derail.

In looking at marriage and submission, I am awed by God’s plan and provision for women. He even provides for the failures of the human race, by declaring that He is “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5, NIV). It is incredible to me, that in my time of need, as I was without a husband, and my children without their father, that God Himself fulfilled that role.

The truth of the matter is that submission, real submission, means that because I have worth, because I am valuable, I need to be protected. Peter calls wives “the weaker vessel”, but I don’t think he meant “weaker” as in less able, I think he meant weaker, as porcelin is weaker and more fragile than common stoneware. We wouldn’t dare handle porcelin teacups without due care, but stoneware often ends up chipped and worn because we are less careful with it – it can handle the rougher treatment. In my submission to my husband (or father’s) leadership, I am recognizing, and he does as well if he is leading properly, my true value as something that needs protection, and doesn’t need the rough handling of the world.

Another definition of “to submit” is “to present for the approval, consideration, or decision of another” or “to state with deference; suggest or propose”. Part of submission is giving of suggestions and opinions. So that by default means that submission cannot mean I don’t have a say in my marriage. It means the opposite: that I am required to give my opinion and suggestions to my husband. How can I submit if he has nothing to approve? Submission without giving something to submit isn’t submission, that’s non-participation. You might as well not be married then. A real leader would welcome the input of those under his care, and those under his care must, if they expect him to do his job well, let him know what they need.

But, submission doesn’t mean I get final say. It does mean I allow someone else to have final say over my life. However, there is a difference between submitting in marriage and submitting to God. God is perfect, my husband is not. My husband can and probably will make mistakes, so I do need to (and am required to) use my mind and weigh against scripture what my husband decides. I must not submit to things that are against God. As Peter and John said to the Sanhedrin, in Acts 4:19 “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him?” I am required first to obey God. But in things not directly against scripture, I am to submit to my husband. It is not absolute obedience, but it is deference to his judgement.

In a marriage of God’s design, the wife who submits to her husband is freed from the responsibility of decision-making for the family, and protected from the world’s demands, free to pursue her heart’s desire and develop her gifts and talents – which development will only benefit the family, especially her husband (look at Proverbs 31: he had no lack of gain because of her!). The husband is freed from worry about a lack of respect and won’t have to constantly fight on two fronts: the world and his wife.

The key to submission is trust. If the husband properly takes his role, loving his wife as Christ loved the church, then nothing he does will be without consideration of the best interests of his wife (and family). He will not make a decision without thinking of her. A wife can then safely submit to her husband, because she trusts that all his decisions will be with care of her, and it is easy for her to submit. If the wife properly takes her role, honoring her husband as leader, as the Church honors Christ and helps with His mission, then nothing she does will be without consideration of how she can best help her husband (and family). She will not decide anything without thinking of the effect on him. A husband can then safely lead and protect, and rest in, his wife’s care, because he trusts that she will be behind him 100%, never hurting him, and he won’t be watching his back while he is trying to forge ahead. It is then easy for him to lead on, and develop his gifts and talents to further the family.

When both have the best interests of the other, mutual submission happens. And ultimately, that’s what marriage is all about.

So, unexpectedly, we find ourselves homeowners, somehow. I’m not quite sure of the details, except that a house has been bought, and we are to move into it, June 1. I’m excited (it’s a nice place, and more room) and nervous (can we afford to do this??) and slightly saddened (our daughter was born in this house, our first real home together..). But overall, I think this will be good for us. At least, I hope so!

We are finishing up spring break, and back to school next week. My oldest is doing very well with her work, and we just need to work on her (and my!) time management skills. I think I need to spend more one-on-one time with her, and I’m trying to figure out how that will happen. I’ve also got some stuff prepared for my 2nd, and I hope to be able to give her some more things to do during school for the next 6 weeks or so.

We finally have the approval for some financial aid from the government for my 2nd’s challenges. And I got some good news – the referral went through for the ASD screening clinic, and now we just wait for the appointment. This clinic is really important, because it will tell us ‘yes, she’s autistic’ or ‘no, she’s not’. I’m not sure which to hope for, really. A ‘yes’ answer gives us finality, and we can move on to treatment and developing a plan to work with her. A ‘no’ answer gives hope that there is a “fix” for all these challenges, and eventually perhaps she wouldn’t have them anymore.

We got my dh’s tax return finally, and were able to get some *needed* things – like my glasses! Yay! Now I’ll be able to get my license, and no longer be dependant on my dh for appointment transportation. And the kids will be able to do more things, and maybe meet more people. We so needed this!

I am astonished at the changes and exciting things happening in our life. At the beginning of March, both my dh and I were discouraged and frustrated. Now we feel as though spring has come, and not just in the seasons of the year, but the seasons of our life. It’s hesitant, and so new, but hope is there.

We’re still getting started!

There’s something about the changes in seasons. April brings spring showers and the awakening of life. June comes with long warm sunny days and children playing on vacation for most. September brings cooler weather, brilliant colors in nature, harvest time on farms and gardens, and back to school sales and registrations. But more than the seasons change. Today, there are more options than ever for the education of your children. It isn’t just a matter of *which* school, but for many, it’s a matter of whether or not they send their kids to school at all.

Homeschooling today is more popular than it ever has since the beginning of public school education. Personally, we have homeschooled since birth, and currently have a 3rd grader and kindergartener, and two younger besides. Homeschooling is trendy, cool and chances are, you know someone who is or is considering homeschooling, and perhaps that someone is you.

With the controversies over curriculum choices, standardized testing, funding and the myriad other problems found in schools, it’s no wonder why homeschooling is attractive to many. The reasons for homeschooling vary as much as the families homeschooling. Academic success, moral and religious values, flexibility and parental responsibility, and protection of children from violence, bullies or perceived attacks at school all rank high as various motivations to homeschool.

Homeschooling is simply the act of educating children outside of a formal institution. Before 1850, this was the norm for most children around the world. There are many famous homeschooled people in history, including presidents, inventors and scientists, such as George Washington and Thomas Edison.

Does it have to look like school? Where do I find curriculum? How do I choose?
Homeschooling varies in approach as much as in motivation. From “school-at-home” with blackboards, textbooks and recess, to “unschooling” where life itself is the classroom, homeschooling is flexible and matches learning and teaching styles with family life and schedules. There are 6 major approaches to homeschooling, and each has its pros and cons:

School-at-home: this is recreating the school experience, in your home. Often done with charters, distance learning, online or computer schooling, this can be very time-intensive. It is extremely structured, and provides the parental hands-on control and one-on-one teaching many families desire.

Textbook/school-in-a-box: With this approach, parents and students work with a comprehensive curriculum that contains every subject, and most of the planning is done already. It tends to be more flexible, as there aren’t the externally-imposed deadlines as working with a charter school would impose, but it is still very time-intensive and usually academically challenging. This approach works great for parents who love checklists and are hesitant about their own teaching ability, and kids who learn systematically and sequentially. Well known Christian currcula that fit this style include Sonlight, Abeka and ACE.

Classical: This approach comes from a belief of learning “stages” in children, and that exposure to good literature and history will develop skills to learn every other skill in life. At each stage in learning, there are different activities done to develop skills. Curriculum choices here include The Well-Trained Mind and Teaching the Trivium.

Charlotte-Mason style: This approach to homeschooling is based on an educator and child sociologist from the 1800s named Charlotte Mason. She firmly believed that children needed only to be guided, read to, and exposed to learning at early ages, with more direct instruction waiting until they were older. Narration/dictation, nature studies and literature form the basis of education. This is great for parents who value reading and allowing children to develop naturally, and provides great flexibility in time and learning styles. Not so great for parents who don’t want to plan on their own, or for kids who need structure. Curricula choices include Five in a Row, Heart of Wisdom, and Heart of Dakota, among others.

Unit Study: This is a themed approach, where instead of dividing learning by subject (math, english, geography etc,) learning is divided into “themes”. Perhaps it is a book, or a historical time period, or a country, or song, or whatever has captured the imaginations of the family, but in studying that theme, all the subjects are covered. For example, in studying trains, students would read stories about trains, learn the history of railroad (and maybe early America while they were at it), the science of locomotion, learn math while figuring out how far and fast they can go, how much they cost to run and build, draw pictures or build models of trains,…well you get the idea. This can be very low-cost and very effective in teaching the relatedness of everything, but does require a lot of pre-planning on the parent’s part. Unit studies work very well with kids who learn best by getting their hands dirty, and when teaching multiple ages. Curricula choices here might be Tapestry of Grace, Mystery of History or My Father’s World, among others.

Unschooling: Also known as child-led, or delight-directed schooling, unschooling is very hands-off, unscripted and may not resemble any form of “school” at all. An off-shoot of attachment parenting, unschooling developed from the belief that children will learn the skills and information they need when they need to learn them. The premise is that without interference, children are constantly learning and will learn gladly and eagerly what they want to know, as their interests direct them. Parents “strew” their children’s paths with books, games, activities and enable their children’s interests with opportunities for further exploration. Unschooling is not for the hesitant or unsure, but for those families committed to doing life together as a family.

Eclectic homeschooling: Eclectic homeschooling is where most families will find themselves. They may be relaxed about learning to read, but use a formal curriculum for math and do unit studies for history and geography. They may love a literature foundation of learning, but want a traditional science curriculum. Eclectic homeschoolers pick and choose from curriculum and approaches based on their children, lifestyle and even just the season of life they are in at that moment. This is the most adaptive form of homeschooling, and blends scheduling with flexibility.

Is it legal? I’m not qualified! How do I start?
One of the most common questions about homeschooling is that of qualifications and legalities. While each state and country has their own laws, homeschooling is legal in one form or another across North America, and in most of the Western world. The first place to start for your local regulations would be with a local homeschooling support group. If you google homeschool support group in your location, chances are you’ll find more than one website to help you.

Parents often feel overwhelmed at the thought of being responsible for their children’s education, but they really shouldn’t be. After all, teaching children to read and write is just as easy as it was to teach them to walk and talk, eat using a spoon, zip a zipper and use the toilet. With all the choices of teaching materials and supports out there, teaching children the skills that enable them to learn, and the information they need to know is not that difficult, though it does require work.

How do you start? That depends on where you’re starting. If you are like me, and considered homeschooling as opposed to sending them to school at all, then you can slide into homeschooling easily, by gradually introducing one activity or subject at a time. Choose a style, and start small, until you find an approach and curriculum that suits you, your children and your family, and don’t be afraid to change something if it isn’t working. There are tons of free resources online for preschool and kindergarten, such as http://www.letteroftheweek.com, http://www.hubbardscupboard.org or http://www.abc123.com.

If you have kids in school, and want to pull them out, then you have a few more decisons to make. First, find out from your local homeschool support group what you need to do to pull your kids, before you pull them. Usually a letter or form is filed with the school and school board, to notify them of your decision. Second, decide on when to pull your kids out (most decide to wait for a natural break, such as a vacation, end of term or end of year) and then spend some time in “de-schooling.” This is a vacation of sorts, where nothing formal is done, and you reconnect as a family. Use this time to let your children get used to not going to school, and discover their interests, passions and learning styles. Connect with your local support group, explore your community, and choose your curriculum. Spend time in planning, assessing strengths and weaknesses, and determining your goals for homeschooling.
Third, set a start date, and start small! Start with one activity/subject at a time, and gradually add more, as you make the switch, so you and your kids get adjusted to the idea of learning at home.
Fourth, enjoy! Welcome to homeschooling and enjoy learning as a family!

What about socialization!?!
Ah, the infamous socialization question. The main objection for homeschooling is this idea that homeschooling = isolation, and school = the real world. But what is more realistic? Being inside a room with 20 other people your age, day in, and day out, eating meals at scheduled times, and having to ask permission to talk, get up, or use the bathroom; or going to the store, bank, library and swimming pool, meeting people of all ages, asking for help as you need it, moving around freely, and following your body’s natural urges, such as sleeping as long as needed or eating when hungry? Children who are homeschooled have the opportunity to learn to get along with others of all ages, confidence and manners in public, and life skills such as asking for information, using a telephone, shopping and driving simply by observation. With numerous activities offered by libraries, arts and music lessons, athletics, arenas, attractions and playgroups, not to mention those offered by support groups and coops, most homeschoolers struggle with too much socialization as opposed to not enough!

“I wish I could, but my child is ADHD/ autistic / special needs/ gifted…etc.”

Homeschooling a child that learns differently has its own challenges, but many parents find they are better able to meet their special child’s needs better at home, than fighting with a school system to follow an IEP or provide the extra resources and help for their children. Add in the need for flexibility for therapy and specialist appointments, and homeschooling often enables these kids to have a better chance at a quality education than sending them to school ever would. Homeschooling allows for tailor-made lesson plans, that take advantage of a child’s strengths and support their weaknesses, helping them succeed where they otherwise would struggle, and often creates champion, confident learners instead of self-defeating, unmotivated kids. Special needs are by no means a reason *not* to homeschool, but in fact, often are a good reason *to* homeschool!

Financial questions — “We need two incomes!” “Homeschooling curriculum is expensive!” “I can’t afford to homeschool.”

Is homeschooling only for the well-off? I would disagree. With the abundance of free online curriculums, the availability of libraries and internet, and the low-cost of school supplies, homeschooling your children can be done for very little money. When you compare even the high-end all-in-one curriculums (around $1500) to the cost of public schooling for one child (around $10 000!), homeschooling is far cheaper and far better value for the money than what the government does. Homeschooling costs, like approaches and motivations, depend on the family.

Here’s something to consider: when you add up all the costs of sending children to school – new clothes, shoes, school supplies, school fees, locks, band/gym supplies, lunch supplies (would you buy that if it weren’t for school lunches?!?), chocolate bar sales/fundraising, field trips, car pooling, etc, — can you afford to send them? Personally, I couldn’t! I spend far less, taking advantage of sales, cooking home-made meals for my kids, and I don’t have to fundraise for anything for school. Field trips (aka family vacations) and clothes are part of normal family expenditures, and don’t cost a huge amount – especially when we can take advantage of off-season sales!

Once you consider the savings of homeschooling, you may find you don’t truly need a second income. However, there may be some sacrifices in your priorities. That is for every family to decide for themselves, and there are alternatives to having one parent stay home all the time. There are single parents who homeschool and work full-time, and there are parents who work from home and homeschool too.

Now for the stereotypes: “All homeschoolers are religious nutcases.” “Ooh, your kids must be brilliant because their homeschooled!” “You must be super-organized/-patient/-mom to homeschool!” My children drive me crazy! I need a break!

As I’ve said frequently, homeschooling looks as different as the families who homeschool. Not all homeschoolers are religious at all, or faith doesn’t motivate their homeschooling. Even those who do homeschool because of faith, usually will educate their children about other faiths and points of view (if only to explain why they believe what they believe).

Children who are homeschooled tend to do better than their public schooled peers, the research shows. But this isn’t necessarily because of any natural giftings, but rather because of the many benefits of homeschooling – one-on-one teaching, lessons that match a child’s learning style, the time and ability of a teacher to work on areas of weakness, and the opportunity of pursuing the interests of the student.

Is successful homeschooling the result of better parenting? Not on your life. Families who homeschool find that homeschooling makes them better parents. We struggle with organization and planning, household tasks and balancing school and life, just as non-homeschoolers do. We’re fortunate at our house if our playroom gets picked up once a day, and there are always dishes piled in the sink. But we get to call the leftovers in the back of the fridge a “science experiment” and suspending school for a day to clean house is “home economics”. Most homeschoolers call their life a combination of learning, chaos, and fun. But most of all, it is family and life, with all that goes with it.

Ultimately, homeschooling is a lifestyle choice. It pervades all areas of life, and the lines between what is school and what is not become blurred very quickly. A family vacation to the Rockies often becomes a geography, science and history lesson. Cooking a meal becomes learning about food groups, and home economics, and health and safety. A walk on a fine spring day is a chance to study the seasons, insects and birds, weather and climate. Ordinary activities are filled with learning and homeschooling highlights this even more.

It doesn’t take a lot of money, patience or super-organizing abilities to homeschool. It doesn’t require a teaching certificate or a university degree. And you don’t need to have a classroom in your home. All you need is the willingness to learn, the commitment to try, and the desire to take on your responsibility to teach your children to the fullest.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to someone like me. I was a good girl – I’d grown up in the church, I was a university student and I thought I was untouchable. But the stick I held in my shaking hand showed that my life had just changed irrevocably. There were two lines. I checked again just to make sure. Yup.. 2 lines.

Pregnant. Me? I couldn’t think straight. It was all I could do to actually walk down the stairs to my friend’s kitchen, clutching the evidence. I felt lightheaded, dizzy. I didn’t know what I was feeling — terrified, thrilled, excited and apprehensive plus a few million others were all mixed in to the jumble.

That’s how I began my journey into this mess called motherhood. I was 19, and I had just come home from my first year of university with what I thought was a touch of flu. Turns out the nausea I thought was stress related was in reality an indicator of something else.

The guy I’d been .. seeing.. if I can call it that, was several hundred kilometers away, and not exactly someone I knew or cared really about. He was fun, but not long-term-relationship material. Yet, we were now going to be linked for life.

Life, wow. Life being created in me. I remember touching my stomach and marveling that inside me was a new little being, being created in me. I remember being almost hysterical with joy and fear, feeling almost drunk on it.

I wonder if Mary felt similar upon discovering her pregnancy with Jesus. Of course an angel telling you you’re pregnant is a much more spectacular pregnancy test than a stick with lines on it.

Single parenthood is bittersweet. Sweet in that we can be selfish with our children. We can keep all the hugs and kisses for ourselves. But bitter in that there is no one to share the special moments with, the firsts, the accomplishments. Sweet is the ease of parenting in making decisions and not having someone misunderstand your discipline or competing for your attention. Bitter is the times of frustration and sleepless nights with no backup to step in and take over.

God knows all of this. After all, Jesus was born into a blended family, with a stepfather and a “real” father and a mother. God knows all about the bittersweetness of single parenthood. Who was He to share with when His Son took His first steps, or when Jesus said His first word? Who could He shout to or celebrate with as His Son started school or brought home His first project from the woodworking shop?

9 months after that moment that rocked my world, my world shifted again, when my daughter was born. Giving birth is the hardest, most painful yet most miraculous and incredible experience I’ve ever had. And looking into those baby eyes, meeting that little person for the very first time, I felt heaven and earth move, and something shifted inside me forever.

Looking into her eyes, I promised her to be the best mother I knew how, that in spite of my mistakes, she was NOT a mistake, and that I would thank God for her every day.

She solemnly blinked at me, in unquestioning trust.

God used a young girl named Mary, to carry His Son out of wedlock, for an incredible purpose. Mary had to suffer the shame and stigma of being pregnant single, just like me. But she accepted her lot, welcomed it even, knowing that bearing this child was the greatest thing she could do, because this child was a miracle.

I know motherhood has made me a better person. Having been single when it began helped me to improve faster. I know I’ve made mistakes. Choosing to disregard God’s best for me created a world of pain that impacts not just me, but those closest to me. In spite of it all, God chose me to bear this child, to have this miracle. God has used my single parenthood to draw me closer to Him. He derailed my self-indulgence and self-importance, taught me a few lessons in humility and asking for help, and then has given me my heart’s desire, even if I didn’t know what that was. God chose me for this time and this purpose.

God chose you for this time and this purpose. He chose you to be this child’s parent. And just as God was there for me along the way, and brought incredible good out of what seemed like such a horrible mistake, I know He will for you too. God bless you as you begin your parenting journey. Welcome to the club!

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to someone like me. I was a good girl – I’d grown up in the church, I was a university student and I thought I was untouchable. But the stick I held in my shaking hand showed that my life had just changed irrevocably. There were two lines. I checked again just to make sure. Yup.. 2 lines.

Pregnant. Me? I couldn’t think straight. It was all I could do to actually walk down the stairs to my friend’s kitchen, clutching the evidence. I felt lightheaded, dizzy. I didn’t know what I was feeling — terrified, thrilled, excited and apprehensive plus a few million others were all mixed in to the jumble.

That’s how I began my journey into this mess called motherhood. I was 19, and I had just come home from my first year of university with what I thought was a touch of flu. Turns out the nausea I thought was stress related was in reality an indicator of something else.

The guy I’d been .. seeing.. if I can call it that, was several hundred kilometers away, and not exactly someone I knew or cared really about. He was fun, but not long-term-relationship material. Yet, we were now going to be linked for life.

Life, wow. Life being created in me. I remember touching my stomach and marveling that inside me was a new little being, being created in me. I remember being almost hysterical with joy and fear, feeling almost drunk on it.

I wonder if Mary felt similar upon discovering her pregnancy with Jesus. Of course an angel telling you you’re pregnant is a much more spectacular pregnancy test than a stick with lines on it.

Single parenthood is bittersweet. Sweet in that we can be selfish with our children. We can keep all the hugs and kisses for ourselves. But bitter in that there is no one to share the special moments with, the firsts, the accomplishments. Sweet is the ease of parenting in making decisions and not having someone misunderstand your discipline or competing for your attention. Bitter is the times of frustration and sleepless nights with no backup to step in and take over.

God knows all of this. After all, Jesus was born into a blended family, with a stepfather and a “real” father and a mother. God knows all about the bittersweetness of single parenthood. Who was He to share with when His Son took His first steps, or when Jesus said His first word? Who could He shout to or celebrate with as His Son started school or brought home His first project from the woodworking shop?

9 months after that moment that rocked my world, my world shifted again, when my daughter was born. Giving birth is the hardest, most painful yet most miraculous and incredible experience I’ve ever had. And looking into those baby eyes, meeting that little person for the very first time, I felt heaven and earth move, and something shifted inside me forever.

Looking into her eyes, I promised her to be the best mother I knew how, that in spite of my mistakes, she was NOT a mistake, and that I would thank God for her every day.

She solemnly blinked at me, in unquestioning trust.

God used a young girl named Mary, to carry His Son out of wedlock, for an incredible purpose. Mary had to suffer the shame and stigma of being pregnant single, just like me. But she accepted her lot, welcomed it even, knowing that bearing this child was the greatest thing she could do, because this child was a miracle.

I know motherhood has made me a better person. Having been single when it began helped me to improve faster. I know I’ve made mistakes. Choosing to disregard God’s best for me created a world of pain that impacts not just me, but those closest to me. In spite of it all, God chose me to bear this child, to have this miracle. God has used my single parenthood to draw me closer to Him. He derailed my self-indulgence and self-importance, taught me a few lessons in humility and asking for help, and then has given me my heart’s desire, even if I didn’t know what that was. God chose me for this time and this purpose.

God chose you for this time and this purpose. He chose you to be this child’s parent. And just as God was there for me along the way, and brought incredible good out of what seemed like such a horrible mistake, I know He will for you too. God bless you as you begin your parenting journey. Welcome to the club!