I don’t even know what to say. It is literally a lifetime achievement. Not for me, for my wife, the mother and teacher of our two boys men. I am so proud of her and I love her so much. I wanted to express my pride in her and love for her by sharing some words of history and wisdom for others who are considering homeschooling, or have already taken the plunge.

2485_1108092496579_2840578_nHomeschooling is a calling. It is not something to be entered into lightly. Before Jess and I got married, as we were working our way through a pre-marriage workbook (which anyone considering getting married should do), we agreed that our kids (when they eventually arrived) were going to be homeschooled because that’s what we believed The Lord wanted our family to do.

1) You and your spouse need to be in agreement, and fully and actively supportive of the decision and the process.

Our reasons for homeschooling aren’t totally relevant to my desire to gush about my wife so I won’t go into them here. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t only about the public (and even private) education systems, it wasn’t only about patterns that are in scripture, it wasn’t only about any one thing. We believed it was what God wanted us to do.

2) The Bible doesn’t command us to homeschool today, not all schools (public or private) are bad, and not everyone should homeschool. Some who are probably shouldn’t be.

GRADUATION - 21My amazing wife is a God-gifted organizer and make-happener of things. She loves to dig in to something. She loves to learn about it and then do it. That’s how she was with homeschool curriculums as the kids grew up. She tirelessly prepped, read, cut-out, taped, glued, researched, and then taught two very different human beings in ways that worked for them. She improvised. She adapted. (Gunny Highway) She was really two teachers for two kids for the last 10 of the 15 years she homeschooled. When she needed help, she sought it out. When it didn’t work, she found something that did.

3) Homeschooling is a crazy amount of work that takes a complete commitment to do it well and do it right.

GRADUATION - 61A homeschooling parent wears at least two hats. One of them is parent hat, the other is teacher hat. When you have students who are your children, students who have taken on your best and worst traits, these hat lines can become blurred. When someone is a teacher with a class full of students, you don’t have to have a close relationship with your students. You can not like them and they can not like you, so long as this doesn’t get in the way of the educational process. When you are the parent and the teacher, that changes things. From my perspective, this posed the greatest challenge when there were significant challenges. As the “principal” of our little school, and as the husband of the teacher and father of the student(s), what was most important to me was the relationship. If we ever got to a point where the process of homeschooling was going to do damage to the family relationship then we would stop homeschooling. From my perspective, this was a bigger challenge that learning that our younger son has Asperger’s Syndrome. It was bigger in the sense that it was encountering the Pacific Ocean on the Homeschool Trail. You can’t cross it with this equipment so its time to take a different course. A child with a learning obstacle is more like encountering rivers and mountains and valleys and plains on the Homeschool Trail; they are obstacles in the long haul, but you can overcome them. And my wife did. They all did.

4) The family relationships trump the process of homeschooling. Period.

IMG_0452As our kids got to middle school age we had just moved to a new town. This was the age we wanted to start giving them opportunities to try new things. Modern parenting seems to promote that we should give our kids as much freedom as possible from the crib on, and then tighten them down as they get older. This is bass ackwards. We are to train our kids from day one which means they are more restricted when they are younger. Only then do they have the foundation to start exploring the world. But I digress. We let our kids pick what they wanted to try. They chose getting in on the community theater. That’s all it took. They tried sports when they were little. It didn’t take. They tried scouts. Pass. But theater? Music? Performing? They get that from both sides and there has been no stopping them. They also got to participate in the music and theater programs with the local public schools. They blossomed, particularly Jer. He blew us away. We were moved to tears when, literally out of nowhere, he was singing and dancing on stage. Jonah has become an accomplished musician in his own right, having written and original song that he then performed with the Portland Community College jazz ensemble class of which he was a member. Jess is their biggest fan, biggest supporter, most vocal advocate (basically their manager), parent volunteer (now she’s on the theater board). Her dedication, not just to our kid’s education but to their character, integrity, and personality, is largely why they are so good at what they do and so genuinely loved by those who work and play with them. All of this without being one of “those” stage moms.

5) Kids need to be trained and pruned when they are young, like a vine. When they’ve grown, only then will they have the strength to stand on their own and be fruitful.

Our older son (Thing 1) graduated high school at 16. Not because we pushed him to. He had enough credits to graduate according to the requirements, and he decided he wanted to be done. Our younger son (Thing 2) started his senior year this morning. Today he also finished the last of his homeschool math work. That’s it. He’s done. He is currently taking classes at the public high school because we thought it was the best for him to do at this point. And he’s doing great! But that’s it! They are done! She is done! Literally, a lifetime achievement.

You may have noticed a theme in the pictured in this post. They are of my wife and sons together, hugging, being friends and being family. To me, as one who has mostly been an observer in the process, that is success. There is genuine respect. There is genuine love. Sadly, many traditionally schooled families don’t even have that. In our case I would attribute it to homeschooling. I’m not saying that is a guaranteed outcome for every family, but it was in our case because for us that was the most important thing.

I love her. I’m proud of her. I’m blessed she is my wife, the mother and teacher of my kids, and I’m thrilled to call her my best friend. So, what’s next? 😉

6) The greatest of these is love.