I am always amazed when I come away from a conversation with moms of kids in school. They sigh and complain and roll their eyes at the attitudes their children bring home. They tell stories of having to have long talks with their kids about what is right and wrong, deprogramming them from the secular humanism being espoused in a continuous feed. Then they turn to me and say: "I could never homeschool! It's so much work!" That may be so, but it is always less work to start from the ground up than to try and undo the damage that has already been done. 

If you are in need of a break, ask the Lord for respite. Homeschoolers tend to stick together and usually are willing to lend a hand; perhaps you can find another homeschooling mom who'll provide the play date or break you need. Homeschooled teenagers also tend to be available and helpful. 

I can't possibly homeschool my preschooler when I have a baby (or two) younger than he is. 

Remember that firstborn I talked about? The one who is demonstrating such solid academic achievement? There are seven more children coming up right behind him. Homeschooling with preschoolers, toddlers, and nursing babies underfoot is all I've ever known. I can tell you with confidence that not only can you do it, you can do it above and beyond what you ever asked for or imagined. And not because of you! Because of Him. 

My child struggles with self control/shyness/sharing/lying, and I was hoping that some socialization would help her. 

The real definition of socialization is "to learn the rules of society." Do you really want your preschooler to learn the rules of society from another 4-year-old? Or are you thinking of socializing? 

Over the years, kids who've been socialized solely with their peers tend to learn some good traits, but they learn them because of the impact it has on them socially. They realize pretty quickly that if they lack self-control/are overly shy/are selfish/lie, they won't have many friends and the world (i.e., school) will be a very lonely place. They fear being labeled a "geek" or worse. 

On the other hand, the child who is socialized within a vast assortment of ages because he has been homeschooled by loving parents tends to learn that self-control/friendliness/generosity/honesty are character traits that please God, regardless of what benefit they bring to him socially. It's an inward transformation of the heart turned Godward, not the by-product of being thrust into peer dependence. 

Our experience has been that our kids learn some of these lessons more slowly than their schooled counterparts, but the fruit is sweet, solid, and genuine, born of being grafted onto the vine by our Savior, who has called them to be His own. 

I know the decision to educate your children at home is a magnanimous one. We had to make that choice twelve years ago ourselves, and I went into it with the attitude of a skeptic. Still, the fruit that has been borne because of that decision so many years ago is priceless. And as we see our firstborn launching off into the world in just a couple of years, we are humbled and grateful that the Lord didn't allow us to close the door on the idea of homeschooling. The days may be long, but the years fly by. 

Kendra Fletcher is the homeschooling mother of eight, aged 16 down to 10 months. She has never known what it means to homeschool without the presence of preschoolers and loves to encourage other moms who are beginning their homeschool journeys with little ones underfoot. Her website and blog can be found at www.preschoolersandpeace.com.

Copyright 2009. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Winter 2009/10. Used with permission. Visit them at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com. For all your homeschool curriculum needs visit the Schoolhouse Store. View our new and free resource, the Homeschool 101 Digital Supplement.