Making a Way through the Murk: a Homeschool Journey

Sep 14, 2020 | Posted by Jennifer


Eighteen years ago I embarked on a bold, new adventure. Imagining myself as an early seafaring explorer, I researched my intended destination, gathered my tools for the journey, and stepped out in the hope and expectation of reaching my goal. What was this journey? Homeschooling.

I came to the decision to homeschool at first reluctantly, but over time and after much research, I felt the strong pull to keep my firstborn home with me rather than send him off to kindergarten. Imagining an ideal, I anticipated spending that first year cuddled on the couch teaching him to read, helping him learn his numbers, and spending copious amounts of time outdoors observing and enjoying nature. My child, I just knew, would magically transcend his peers in his knowledge, and learning would be a natural extension of childish curiosity. And mostly it was.

Except when it wasn’t. Like those early intrepid explorers who ventured away from the coastline for the first time, at times I experienced doubt and worry. My previously anticipated smooth sailing was not so smooth after all. Storms inevitably came, making our way much more murky. While homeschooling I had more babies, navigated illness, was displaced by a house fire, and moved across the country. Learning, I discovered, didn’t necessarily come easily for everyone. Our family was battered by learning disabilities and ADHD diagnoses. At times, I confess, the uncertainty and darkness threatened to overwhelm me. I had lost my compass and direction.

Buoyed by the conviction that there was a destination somewhere in the distance, though, I persisted. Homeschooling was something I chose to do, day by day rather than year by year. My husband and my faith sustained me in the darkness. And gradually I began to see the distant shore take shape. It was somewhere during this time that I finally exchanged the ideal, imagined homeschooling experience for the actual, grittier, grace-filled one. I relinquished the notion that I could have a utopia of learning experiences with perfect children. Instead I acknowledged that I had real, fallible, precious children who in turn had me, a flawed but loving mother as their guide. Letting go of the ideal allowed me to enjoy the journey, imperfect and flawed as it was, and focus on teaching and raising up the children I was blessed with in a manner that worked for all of us.

Perhaps you are just beginning your homeschooling journey. Whether you are a reluctant voyager or an eager adventurer, enjoy your experience. It will be unique to you, but one thing I can say with assurance: Storms will come. When they inevitably arise, lower your sails and hang on for the ride. It is in the midst of the deepest darkness that we discover who we are. And the storms won’t last forever. Eventually the sun will come out again, and you can continue your course to the distant shore. It’s there in the distance, I promise you.

This year marks the start of a new adventure for me. I am now a homeschool mom emeritus. My youngest headed off to college this fall, leaving our home a much quieter, emptier place. I’m grieving that a little bit, truth be told. Still, I’m delighted to be able to continue to educate and impact other students as I teach Structure and Style in a local co-op and tutor students online. I didn’t anticipate that blessing when I first launched into the unknown almost twenty years ago. I’m thankful for all that my homeschooling journey has presented me: the good and the bad. It may not be the ideal that I was originally searching for, but in truth it is so much better, richer. I wish for you the same when you reflect on your time homeschooling, whether it’s for a year or a lifetime.


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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