With the school year off and running, this week we have a unique opportunity to invite guest author Dorianne Commarota—wife, mom, and homeschooling speaker—to share her journey with homeschooling and offer encouragement to those families considering the same path.
When my husband Tony and I were engaged, we had a few “we’ll never” statements that we were taking into marriage. One of these statements was, “We’ll never homeschool, because those kids are freaks!” We had both been involved for years with high school ministry and had only encountered one homeschooled kid who was, what our culture might define as, “normal.” As the years went on, however, we were exposed to more and more people who had been homeschooled, and our views began to be challenged. Specifically, while doing college ministry in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University, Tony and I noticed something very significant about the students in that college ministry who had been homeschooled. They all had a great sense of adventure, servant hearts, and a strong security about themselves in general. They were the first to step up to leadership needs in the ministry, they were consistently the ones to come up with new ideas for the ministry, and the girls would never accept a dime when they babysat for us. This began to shatter our previous and narrow experience with homeschoolers.
Upon moving to Frisco several years later, with all of the rave reviews about the Frisco schools, those Michigan memories faded a bit, and we were easily set on our kids taking the typical route that we had both taken as kids so long ago. When it came time for our oldest to start kindergarten though, something just didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t fear, but it was something. I am not a sweet, nurturing person, so I was just certain that God did not have it up His sleeve for me to homeschool, but in fact He did!
Maybe God is drawing you to this same path. It’s not the norm. It can seem overwhelming when you even think about where to begin—curriculum choices, “am I qualified?” “I’m not organized enough,” etc. There is pushback from family and friends. And then there is the biggest question that tears at you…will my kid be lonely and have no friends? Well, if you live in the North Dallas area, I want to encourage you that you are in an incredible community of homeschoolers who are eager to walk alongside of you in this journey! So many of them are right here within the walls of Stonebriar Community Church on Sundays and Wednesdays! My biggest encouragement to you would be, Do not walk this road alone! We are designed for community, and if God is calling you to homeschool, He is calling you to community within that route.
Keep in mind that the first year is so hard because you can’t help but question yourself in every step you take, and when you see that Kindergarten Roundup sign in the lawn of your neighborhood school…well…you know, but I promise, it gets easier and easier as you get into a groove, find consistent community, try out different curricula, and just settle into the security that if homeschooling is what God has called you to, then He will provide and equip you for it.
Homeschooling is like anything else: your first year of marriage, your first year after delivering your first baby—you have no clue what you are doing! Homeschooling is no different. You grow as you go.
Give yourself a lot of grace! Grace to learn from mistakes, grace to try new things not knowing if they are going to work, grace to ask others for help, grace to let others know that you are drowning…because one day, not too long into the journey, you will be the one encouraging a new mom. Hold strongly to the truth that God’s grace is sufficient for you, for His power is made perfect in weakness. We can boast all the more gladly about our weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Homeschooling is not God’s plan for everyone, but I want to share with you several encouragements as to why it is worth taking the jump into that world if you feel like God is leading you in that direction.
- Your kids get the chance to know you so well and vice/versa.
- Your kids grow up knowing their siblings so well and helping each other along the way.
- You get to choose your curriculum—every book!
- You have time to get into good discussions about what they are learning, rather than marking off a checklist of subjects that have to be done. It’s no longer about cramming info to pass a test.
- When they are struggling with something, you get to take the time to slow down and bring them to mastery, rather than plowing forward regardless of how much they understand.
- On the flip side, if they are excelling in something, you can allow them to advance regardless of age.
- They see you as a learner, as you are, in turn, teaching them.
- After-school life is not so rushed! There is no homework, because you had more than enough time in the day to finish everything! This means you can do sports, extracurricular activities, hang out, eat dinner, shower, all without being so stressed for time.
- And lastly, you get to stay in your pajamas on cold mornings in your warm home drinking hot chocolate, doing your school work, while the rest of the world waits in cold cars in drop-off lines.
Going back to the beginning to when my husband and I viewed homeschoolers as weird based on our limited experience, I see now that you can walk into a public school and find socially awkward kids within 30 seconds. There are weird homeschoolers, and there are weird public or private schooled kids. Schools in and of themselves are not a guarantee that a kid will be socially adept, nor is homeschooling a guarantee that they will be socially awkward. There are cool public schooled kids, and there are cool homeschooled kids. There are kids who drop out of public schools, and there are kids who excel in public schools, just as there are variations in the outcomes of homeschooling, but these are not the things that matter.
The heart of the issue comes down to this question: What is God calling you and your family to do?
If you are called to homeschooling, I say take the risk! Jump in with both feet, get into a community, and don’t look back! Get ready to learn so much, and get ready to have your character changed! If we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all these things will be added to us as well (Matthew 6:33). He adds what each of us needs as we simply seek Him in the path He has chosen specifically for us. The road is not easy, but there is encouragement along the way and fruit in the end!
Dorianne is the wife of Tony Cammarota and Mom to their four children: Mia, Ian, Soren, and Jenna. She has been homeschooling for nine years and is a tutor for the Classical Conversations Challenge B program, as well as a speaker for the Classical Conversations summer parent practicums. When she’s not cheering her kids on from the sidelines of sporting events, you might find her eating good chips and salsa, or planning their next road trip!