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Deb Girotti's homeschooling experiences

I have enjoyed reading the Girotti's blog, Mountain Musings, for many years now. One of the things I love about blogs is the encouragement I gain from catching a glimpse of how others live out their Christian commitment. It is fun to read about what is going on and the way God is shaping their lives into something beautiful! In April I enjoyed reading and sharing some of Hannah Girotti's thoughts on her homeschooling experiences. Now I am grateful to be able to share some thoughts from Deb, Hannah's Mum.

How long did you homeschool?

We homeschooled for 17 years beginning when our oldest son was 5 in 1987, and we completed our journey in 2004 when our youngest of four children graduated.

What motivated your decision to begin and to continue homeschooling?

We first heard about homeschooling when our oldest was only 3. It had never entered our minds to homeschool before meeting this family who was new to our church who homeschooled. "Now that is different," we thought.

One Sunday after church they asked if they could give a summary of what a day was like in their homeschool. Several families stayed to listen and find out more information. Many families began homeschooling as a result of that meeting, and I will always be thankful that the Lord used this family to open our eyes to the idea! This family motivated us to begin taking the first steps.

When we heard how schooling our own children could actually be possible, we started reading, praying, and checking into our state laws and what was required--this was two years before our oldest child would be ready for kindergarten. I began attending home school support group meetings and just listened to the moms talking and picked up lots of knowledge about curriculum and how families taught in their own homes. It was a great experience for me to get a slow start and a perfect introduction to the lifestyle we would end up choosing for our family.

What motivated us to continue to homeschool for 17 years? The results in both the academics and in our children's character training were only two of the benefits. Knowing that we were training our children as Scripture tells us was our biggest motivation. There was no question that we would definitely continue through the high school years.

Is there any advice that you would give to families who are beginning now?

One biggie help to the homeschool mom is to have dad (right from the beginning) take a couple of the subjects in the evenings when he's home from work. This gives your children a break from always having mom teach and gives them time with dad, and it helps develop a closer relationship with him. It also helps the children to see that both parents are in this together! My children loved science and math with dad!

Seek the Lord every day for strength to keep on going. The days of frustrations, sleepy students, science experiments, math problems, a new baby added to the household, grading papers, keeping records, and myriads of other things sometimes seem to drone on and on and could discourage a beginner. You'll think graduation day will never be in sight. Don't give up the race! It's worth every long school day and every effort when your children excel, love the Lord with all their heart, graduate at the end of their schooling, and thank you for all you've done for them.

You seem to have a close relationship with your children, three of whom still live at home. Are there any tips you would you like to pass onto others about fostering close relationships while homeschooling?

I'd say it would be almost impossible not to have a close relationship with your children when you're with them day in and day out. When your children see that both their parents want the very best for them as far as succeeding in their lessons, growing more in their faith and relationship with the Lord, and when they hear their parents praying for them daily, they are going to feel the love of mom and dad and of the Lord and that definitely fosters a close relationship within the family--at least in our family.

But also practical things like taking a special field trip that would interest a particular child or picking one child to take on an excursion alone and making him/her feel special will help foster a close relationship with each of your children.

Are there any mistakes you would like to encourage others to avoid?

Something that we avoided throughout our children's growing years were youth groups and seeking to always have our children around their peers. I know many homeschooling families have had lots of disappointment when their children have left the teachings of their parents because they've been influenced by their friends. Not that we didn't want our children to have friends, but we tried to make friends as families gathering together rather than children just with children or teens with teens.

How did you use homeschooling to teach your children about God and encourage them to seek Him?

The curriculum we used included Bible as a daily subject which we studied from K5 - 12th grade. We learned catechisms, memory verses, and basically used curriculum that focused on scripture and biblical principles in every subject that we taught.

Living a godly life in front of your children daily is a good instruction book, too. They will learn how to seek God as you as a parent seeks Him.

What are two of the challenges you faced as a homeschooling mother and how did you overcome these?

Probably my biggest challenge was feeling inadequate in teaching with not having gone to college and not having a degree. This feeling of inadequacy occurred mostly when homeschool moms would be talking together, and I would realize that everyone in the group was a college graduate but me. When my children began excelling and using their strengths to do a really good job, I realized that the Lord could use anyone (even me) to homeschool. At this stage in life with adult children who are well educated and serving the Lord, I wonder what I had to worry about long ago with being inadequate!

Are there any sources of encouragement that you drew from during your homeschooling years that you believe may be of benefit to others?

I don't have any specifics to answer this question. We attended annual state homeschool conferences and workshops, listened to a variety of homeschool experts on tape, read lots of books, and exchanged experiences with other homeschooling parents. We participated in our local home school support group and then led a support group for several years. All the contacts, education, and information we gained were sources of great encouragement for us.

If you had your time over again, is there anything you would do differently?

No, I really can't think of anything I would change--we took advantage of every learning experience that we could and enjoyed all the home education years.

What rewards have you reaped as a result of your decision to homeschool?

Adult children who are our friends and who are well-equipped to begin their families and to train their own children. They all say they plan to homeschool, too! Praise the Lord!

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