After homeschooling my boys for 17 years, we had the honor of graduating both of them. One in 2019 and the other in 2020. In the beginning, when I was doing Pre-K lessons with my older son at age 2, homeschool graduation wasn’t even on my radar. I was simply doing my best to transition from the life of a busy career woman to that of a stay-at-home mom, and the days at home with a toddler were a shock to my system.
I replaced the days filled with the chaos of board meetings and broken computers that were my responsibility to fix with dirty diapers and two young boys who depended on me for everything. Somehow, I had bought into the lie that my life as a Network Administrator was more important than it was as a wife and mother. And teaching my boys preschool lessons gave my day more purpose.
Those early years were tough for me as I struggled to rediscover who I was as a mom.
Fast forward sixteen and seventeen years and I found myself with two sons who had grown up being homeschooled and were ready to embark on a new journey. As I look back, I feel tremendous gratitude for the gift of time that I’ve been given. Time with my sons that most parents never have. We’ve laughed and cried together. We’ve made lots of memories – some good and some bad. Basically, we’ve done life together.
And I honestly had no idea what I was doing most of the time.
As I prepared to host a Graduation Open House for my oldest son and I sorted through old pictures and mementos of our time together, an array of feelings flooded my mind. There are so many lessons I learned from my both of my sons’ homeschool graduations. I hope my thoughts will inspire you as you walk this path with your own children.
Here are 5 Lessons I Learned from our Homeschool Graduations:
1 – Stop Being Self-Conscious
As I go through old pictures, I notice there are lots of photos of my husband and sons and way less of me. There were so many years when I avoided getting in front of the camera. I was so concerned about the way I looked. My weight. My hair. My overall appearance. And when my husband was able to coax me to get my picture taken, my expression often looks pained. Rather than flashing a relaxed smile, I look uptight.
If you have young kids, make a point to be IN the picture rather than merely taking the pictures. Selfies are great. But try actually handing off the camera and letting someone get candid photos with you in them as well. You will cherish these photos someday!
2 – Enjoy the Chaos
Homeschooling two young sons, our house was often messy. I prioritized doing activities with them rather than keeping up on household chores. And I don’t regret that for a minute. But I often felt guilty that there were projects laying out all over the dining room table. Or stacks of books on the coffee table.
As I look back on old photos and see the clutter behind those precious, smiling faces, things don’t look as unorganized as I remember. Yes, our house looks lived in. But it doesn’t look like an episode of Hoarders the way I often envisioned.
If I could go back, I would try to relax more and take part in the fun and games without being so concerned about things that honestly aren’t that important.
3 – Goofy Photos are the Best
Whenever I pull out my camera or phone to take a photo of my sons, their first instinct is to do something goofy or to make a face. And then they laugh. And then they will pose nicely for me. At least most of the time. Because of this, I got into the habit of taking multiple pictures of my boys and asking them to make goofy faces first. My intention was to throw these crazy-looking photos away. But honestly, they have become some of my favorites.
The photos with silly faces are the ones I treasure most. They allow my sons’ personalities to shine through. They bring me back to whatever was going on much more vividly than do the tame photos. And they make me smile.
If I could go back, I would take even more goofy photos of my family.
4 – Our Kids Will Figure Things Out
There were plenty of times while my sons were young that I worried about various character traits or areas of immaturity that I saw in them. Times when I would cry on my husband’s shoulder because I was sure I had failed my sons. Times when I would beg God to protect my sons from mistakes that I made made with them as a mom and as a teacher.
And there were times even after we were done homeschooling that I thought perhaps I had failed my sons as I saw them flounder during all the chaos that ensued in the world about the same time they were trying to figure out the next step for their lives.
I’m happy to say that after a bit of time has passed, my sons are figuring out their path. They’re both gainfully employed and are thinking about the future. Just because our sons struggle with something when they’re younger, that doesn’t mean it’s something they will continue to battle as they mature. Keep the faith and take things one day at a time.
5 – Graduation isn’t the End
Graduation feels like the finish line, but there’s still plenty of learning and life lessons that happen after our children graduate from our homeschools. Learning to do taxes. Job applications. Opening bank accounts and mutual funds. Budgeting. Saving for the future. Living expenses. And the list goes on and on.
Whether our kids go off to college or enter the working world, they will continue to encounter many situations they haven’t faced before and will need our advice and our support. Our job as parents never ends. Our roles merely transform to become guides.
Hopefully, this is something that has been happening for the last several years, anyway. As our kids get part-time jobs, learn to drive, head off on missions trips, and tackle a myriad of other tasks, parents are wise if we take a step back and allow our children to make more and more of their own decisions with our input. This prepares them for adulthood and allows them to get used to making good choices and also learning from the consequences, whether good or bad.
Homeschooling my sons from preschool to graduation was one of the biggest privileges and accomplishments in my life. My goal was to teach them, but I’m not sure who learned more during those seventeen years – them or me!
There are so many lessons that I learned from going through homeschool graduations with my sons. Have you graduated any of your children? If so, what have you learned from the process? Please leave a comment and let us know!