Update (04/13/15):  It’s hard to believe how fast time has past.  When I originally wrote this post, I had been homeschooling for four years,  It’s now been 12 years that we’ve been on this journey. The daughter for whom this post is written about has since graduated from high school, gone on to college, and is now a married woman with her own photography business.  Seven years past the original date of this post, I still am happy that we chose the homeschool path.  Thought it would be worth a repost.


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Every now and then I get questions that I think are worth responding to on my blog. I thought my answers might be good to share in a post.Let me start with WHY we started homeschooling and then work backwards…

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Gracie was in the 5th grade when I seriously began considering homeschooling as an option. Prior to this, I was a single working parent and this would not have been an option. I had been married about six months and was discussing my daughter’s struggles in school to a friend of mine from church who homeschools her own children. She kept insisting that we try it. I just shook my head. My thought was that it wouldn’t work for us. My friend pointed her finger at me and said, “Watch, you are gonna end up homeschooling.” I did not even entertain the idea.Now Gracie has always needed a lot of help from me to do well in school. She has never been that type of self-motivated, wanting A’s really badly, kind of kid. She is a day dreamer. She is a creative little thing. To this day, she tells me that a teacher talking or lecturing for more than 10 minutes makes it really hard for her to focus.Gracie switched schools in the second grade with me looking for a different school that would make things better. We switched schools again in the 5th grade searching a little more. Halfway through her sixth grade year, I just couldn’t take it anymore. We were spending anywhere from three to four hours a night working on her homework. It was torture. I spent my evenings, reviewing or reteaching what she had been taught during the day. It wasn’t that she couldn’t get it, she just couldn’t get it in the traditional way. I found myself reading books, trying to educate myself about different learning styles, learning differences, and learning difficulties. I took her to the doctor and had her diagnosed with ADD so that the school would have an official diagnosis with which to allow modifications to her school work. The school was great and made every attempt to accommodate Gracie’s learning style.

Gracie had trouble spelling. We would spent so much time going over her weekly spelling list and then she would take her test and fail it. I read a book that helped me to understand Gracie was a right brain learner and that I needed to appeal to her ability to see pictures. I showed her the spelling words on a card, had her tell me when she had the picture in her brain, then spell the word to me. She could do it, no problem. Then I asked her to spell the word backward. She would look up in the sky and spell words backward correctly too. I spoke with her teacher and requested that she be allowed to orally spell the missed words to her teacher. She began making A’s.

Even with all of the extra stuff I was busy figuring out and putting into place to help her be more successful in the classroom, this didn’t fix the problem of our time. All of the “extra” stuff took so much energy on my part and her childhood was speeding by while we sat at the kitchen table in the evenings working through it all.

We pulled her out mid-year in her sixth grade year.

Now, my plan was to homeschool her through junior high and then put her back. I was going to “fix” her and then enroll her again in high school. She ended up fixing me!

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By spending TIME with my daughter, I found out so much more about how she really learned. I was able to stop trying to do things the way that made sense to the school and focus on what made sense to her. She flourished. She also had time to pursue all of the things that interested her outside of school hours.I learned with her. We spent lots of time reading together or talking about the random things throughout the day. Random things that we’d never had the time before to explore. Being with Gracie not only gave me an opportunity to give her one on one academic attention, it also gave me an opportunity to pour into her life.When her eighth grade year came to a close, it just didn’t seem right to put her back in the classroom when there was so much more to life than what she could learn sitting in a desk. So we decided to homeschool through her ninth grade. One more year I thought, and we’d both be ready to part ways. That didn’t happen either.

Toward the later part of her ninth grade year, we discussed the option of private school. We even took her to a private school that she had attended before and let her spend the day there, getting the feel of the place, hanging out with old friends, and checking out the classes. I told her that if she was going to go back to school I needed to know soon because there was planning I had to do and time I had to invest in preparing a high school course plan and graduation. I didn’t want to do all of that for her to jump up at a random later time, proclaiming her desire to go to school after I had done all that work.

The evening after her visit she wanted to go to that school ASAP. The next day she did too, but sometime around the 3rd or 4th day, she didn’t mention it at all. We asked her about her sudden lack of excitement, and she told us that she didn’t want to go. When asked why, she cited all of the reasons that I had grown to appreciate about the beauty of homeschooling. She also said that she enjoyed the freedom that homeschooling gave her to develop her unique talents and gifts. Gracie is a gifted artist. She has independently taken up the guitar and piano. She sews and has made quilts as well as some clothes for herself.

 

Gracie & her guitar

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One of her art pieces

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Lest someone think I’m a gifted homeschool mom and teacher, don’t be fooled. I don’t sew, I don’t draw, and I don’t play guitar 🙂

So, for us, homeschooling has become just as much about life as it is about school. We are just as interested in preparing our daughter for college with an academically rigorous program as we are in preparing for her to effect her world for Christ. Homeschooling goes beyond Algebra & English Composition. It grants us the opportunity to explore what SHE is created to do and to explore her talents and gifts early in her life. It gives us the opportunity to focus on areas of her character that need to be refined (as well as areas of our own character). It allows us the time to actively and effectively transfer our beliefs and make sure that, before she leaves our house, she understands what she believes and why she believes it.

Homeschooling provides the time for us to practice what it means to be a family. Gracie is just as good at most of the stuff around the house as I am. She will be well prepared to be a Mom and a keeper of her home.

A healthy pie Gracie made for her co-op health class with wheat flour pastry and organic dried fruit. (Look closely for how she personalized her pie with her first initial).

 

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Me & Gracie in the kitchen together. I was teaching her how to make strawberry cake.

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Gracie’s work in the kitchen
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I believe in the power of an education. I also believe in the power of learning throughout life, not just in K-12. In the last week, we’ve discussed everything from the gradual erosion of constitutional rights for individuals in this country to literary character development in The Scarlet Letter. Gracie will be well prepared to think critically and to make a living in whatever line of work she chooses.

I say all of this not to toot my own the horn for our household or to make it seem as if homeschooling is the only option that will work in raising great kids. I’ve just felt for sometime like I ought to blog about this topic because I’m asked so often in real life why we have chosen to do this for our children. Most people are much more accepting of the idea of homeschooling little people but are shocked that we plan to homeschool Gracie all the way through.

Just wanted folks to know that it’s possible and that it can be very rewarding and worth the effort. We are very grateful that God led us to this path. We pray that we are the kinds of stewards He would want us to be of these precious gifts He has given to us.

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10 Comments

  1. Heidi April 28, 2015 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Dear Chrystal, your post came at a timely moment in my life as I consider transitioning my own children to traditional school after homeschooling for 6 years. I am not quite sure why I really started homeschooling, except God pressed it so hard on my heart that I couldn’t do anything other than homeschool. So, after a career-focused life, I quit my job and began homeschooling my 5, 4, and 3 year old children. It has been a wonderful journey, filled with precious moments and many challenges. Not the least of my biggest challenge ….me! Through adoption, God blessed my husband and I with 3 amazing children, each with their individual strengths and weaknesses that have molded me into a more humble and Christ-focused mom, wife, and child of God. However, each year, I question if my weaknesses are enough to meet my children’s needs as teacher, mom, counselor, coach, social coordinator, etc. Yes my children are involved in many activities outside the home and I am not their only “teacher” in their life. However, as they sit on the floor completing their math homework, gather up their books for one of their history co-op classes, or sit at the computer for an online writing class, I doubt myself and wonder if this is “real” world. Will it be enough to prepare them for “real” life? Will they reject the values we are trying to teach them? Will they resent missing out on the activities of traditional school? Will they have confidence that other children may be getting from public school? Will they treasure in their hearts the sweet devotions and bible study time we have shared together? Will they forgive my lack of patience as I juggle homeschooling, part-time working, and our crazy life schedule?
    Thank you for sharing your heart as why you homeschooled….not to shelter your children but watch them blossom into this world. What a gift this has been for me and whether or not I continue to homeschool, I will thank God for this blessing.

    • Claudia April 28, 2015 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Heidi,
      It would be exhausting to work part time and homeschool, so already you have my admiration! And it sounds like they have a well-rounded life and curriculum. I often wonder the same things you have wondered, and many days my children don’t treasure devotions or Bible time together. But Heidi, the Lord does. If you have been called to homeschool by Him, then every.single.thing. you do to honor His call on your life is a treasure. To Him. Even if it is not appreciated by anyone else. And I believe they will forgive us our lack of patience if we will ask in humility, and grant forgiveness, too, when they ask. Praying the Lord will give you and your husband wisdom to choose the best plan for your family. Regardless of the choice, His love is unchanging, and you will “homeschool” either way. All parents homeschool in one way or another. 🙂

  2. Claudia April 28, 2015 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    I loved hearing your heart on homeschooling, Chrystal. And you have a lovely daughter!! Like your reader above, I left a good career to homeschool because I couldn’t NOT. The Lord made it so clear. But now, as we begin the high school years with boys who naturally want to be in charge, I have struggled. Recently, I totally blew it by some awful comment about how I am not shedding blood, sweat, and tears for THIS (insert any number of conflicts). And then, in that most powerful, still, small voice, the Lord spoke to my heart. “You mean you aren’t really doing this for Me?” Ouch. So for me, it means the challenge IN or the results OF homeschooling (or anything else the Lord personally calls me to) should not matter – IF I am truly doing this for Him. And I so was not. So I am starting over in my heart. Thank you for the encouragement!

  3. G October 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    I ran into you homeschool story by way of you conversation with Kandis Davis on prayer. Needless to say, I wanted to hear more. I am also a homeschool mom of 9, 3 of which have graduated college and working towards their master’s degree. The others are a work in progress. Homeschooling was my husband’s suggestion and not a interest of mine originally. But God does have a way of guiding us towards his purpose and plan. My children have never attended public school and I came to find out why, because I too was faced with children with different learning styles and therefore there were many struggles that I could not have successfully dealt with if they had been in public school– but God knew. Having the privilege of homeschooling has been a blessing for my family for all the reasons you stated. My 3 oldest graduated college and high school within 3 months of each other making them among the youngest to ever graduate from the university– 2 at 18 years old and the 3rd at 16. When we embarked on homeschooling, this was never our plan for them to graduate early but God provided an avenue for us to educate our children without debt. This was of grave concern for us because we knew we did not have the income to put our large family through college without student loans and we knew they would not receive academic or athletic scholarships. Children are a blessing from the Lord and He has been faithful to sustain us regardless of the number of children we have, their learning acumen and our financial situation. So, we are excited to see how he guides us through the other 6 children with all the individual talents, abilities, personalities that we have been entrusted with to help nurture and develop for God’s kingdom. Similar to your daughter, my next son is right-brained and is very artistic. He plays the classical guitar, clarinet, piano, and even sings. Reading your story today was very timely and a godsend. Thank for your story. It was very uplifting and may God continue to bless your endeavors and your steadfastness.

    • Chrystal Hurst October 18, 2015 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your journey with me! Nice to meet u!

  4. Lenieka March 10, 2016 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Your blog… Wow… I started partially homeschooling my kids this year because of the same thing that happened to your daughter happened to my son… We are with a university model school which is somewhat similar to a co-op. I caught a lot of flack from it… But now I realize that if I had never had the issues with my son, I wouldn’t know my children like I do now… Thank God for answered prayer that’s not how you think it should be answered… Lol…

  5. […] I even resurrected this old post about our journey into homeschooling and why we ended up doing it all the way through…. […]

  6. Ashlee February 28, 2018 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    ^Thanks Chrstal for your post. I do like the other woman feel like it was very timely. I do currently homeschool, but for some reason this year I have felt completely anf totally lost. I think I am suppose to jsut try and get to know my son on a more personal level…like his learning stylesnad other things about him, but I just feell lost. I don’t want to fail my kids… I just don’t know what to do? how do you develop plans for you children? How did you get involved in co-op. I am a working single mom so time is essential in my house. What do I do?I have been praying about it for a long time and I believe sometime I get an answer but then I’m not sure. I just really feel like I need help. My kids are all very young 5(almost 6) , 4, and 2. I have spoke (online) to other homeschooling moms and they jsut tell me to relax don’t worry., play games and maybe their right. I guess I’m just scared. How did you know what to do when ou began homeschooking?

  7. Kim Huitt December 18, 2018 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for writing this post!!! I love how this was such a rewarding journey for you! This is amazing and I love how you talk so much about relationship and freedom! How beautiful!

  8. Jen April 21, 2019 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Hi Chrystal! Thank you for sharing your story! I’ve had the desire to homeschool for many years. We have a 12 year old son and two daughters ages 10 and 5. My husband is dead set against homeschooling, and any time I bring it up he gets upset with me. I’ve cried out to God to change his heart and continue to seek Him and His will. I’m just really frustrated and sad that my husband is preventing me from trying this. Do you have any advice?

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