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Homeschooling: The Ever-Changing, Never-Ending Story
An essay from The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child

by Linda Dobson

I couldn't have asked for and received so many answers to the important question “What do you wish someone had told you about homeschooling?” without considering how I, too, might answer. Many ideas crossed my mind, but I think the most useful tidbit would have been to know that homeschooling is an ever-changing, never-ending story, its script so amazing that it is an honor to play even a small role.

Children grow, family circumstances change, life takes unexpected twists and turns. One day the scenery is set for a homeschooling adventure in which your family travels to parts previously unknown, meeting interesting people who share new ideas. Turn around and homeschooling is an unfolding drama in which your rapidly maturing daughter flaps her wings in preparation for flight. A horror story plays out as the washing machine dumps gallons of sudsy water on your new kitchen floor just as you planned to enjoy a nature walk, but that doesn't matter at the moment, because your toddler is screaming. You suspect big brother may have pulled her shoulder out of joint while helping you get her out of the water, and if the doctor is going to help, you've got to get to his office now. Someday you and your children will laugh together about the horror, much the same way you chuckle during days that lay before you a comedy of errors.

Some days fill with how-to stories, otherwise known as crash courses in making Play-Doh, finding someone to answer your child's question about a rare meteorological event, and learning creative uses for parts left over after you manage to put the clock back together.

Permeating it all is a magnificent love story, one that gently guides the plot through its twists and turns. The love story wraps warmly around your family, yes, but it grows to envelop the greater world as the homeschooling lifestyle exposes truths previously forgotten. There's the truth that knowledge is not the purview of a few who train to dispense it but, rather, possessed by all individuals and stamped with their own unique brand. Most are willing to share it, too, if only someone asks. The homeschooling lifestyle exposes children to the world not as a place to enter “someday“ but as a joy-and learning-filled classroom ripe for exploration. Revealed when our children grow as part of the world instead of corralled away form it, the truth is that people of all ages can and should participate in the dance of life together.

The love story doesn't end here. It's so compelling it follows the players far into the future, unfolding as a lifelong appreciation of learning that becomes part of the journey, instead of simply the means to an end.

Before I actually stated homeschooling, would these words put forth by others have conveyed the depth and breadth of experience about to unfold? Ha. How could mere words do that? Words could not have made me understand, because I was not yet capable of “thinking outside the box.” I was still confusing “schooling” with “education,” which prevented my thinking on the subject from flying toward a new place, a place where education transcends the schedule, organization, and methods of others so that its possessor may lay full claim to it.

The ability to think outside the box develops over time, a result of study, observation, thought, and a valuable collection of abject failures and stunning successes. Only your attention can give you the tools you need; only our time can hone them. If upon completion of your first year of homeschooling you are on your way to thinking outside the box, if your children are uncovering and following interests with the time available to them, if education is emerging a something you all do for yourselves instead of having it done “to” you, congratulations.

You are a homeschooling success.

Linda Dobson, homeschooler since 1985, Linda was Home Education Magazine news columnist for 8 years and currently writes the magazine's “Notes from the Road Less Traveled” column. Linda coordinates the New York Home Educators' Network. She has authored seven books on homeschooling:

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