Beyond Academics

by Bente Rodriquez, Ohio
Over Christmas break, three of my adult children, one in-law, and 3 grandchildren came home to celebrate the season. Our house was filled with conversation and laughter. It was heaven! My son- and daughter-in-law are planning to homeschool their children. So as questions about learning to read, curriculums, and when to start formal math were discussed, I looked back over the last 20 years and asked myself: Did homeschooling “work”?

My children have never attended school with a paid teacher and a blackboard. They have never ridden a yellow bus or had to pack their lunches. They never experienced homework until they went to college. As we learned and discovered, I sometimes felt that they spent more time outdoors than they did with their spelling lists. Learning to happily work and serve in a family of 15 children held a much higher priority than the grammar lessons that collected dust on the shelf. So, I asked myself, did I ruin them because our homeschooling environment wasn’t packed to the brim with academics?

As I watched them, the peace and happiness I felt told me no, I didn’t ruin them. With the Lord’s help, I could give them each exactly what they needed to follow their own paths. Their love for hard work, their unfailing devotion to their families, their kindness towards others, their faith in God, and their determination to succeed in whatever they put their minds to. That is what I wanted for them. That is why I homeschool. Did it work? With my older children, my answer is YES! It did. Can I sit back and relax now? Nope! We still have 7 more children to graduate and grandchildren that I hope to help along the way. 

When my adult children packed up their cars and drove away, I was reminded that we are all doing better than we think we are. Sometimes we feel like we are on our own with homeschooling. If we don’t do things perfectly, our children’s lives will be ruined. As homeschooling moms, we are learning right alongside our children. We are all children of God. He has asked us to do this, so therefore, He will always be there. As we do our best (and to be honest, some days our not-so-best), He will make up for our deficiencies. Trust Him. When you feel like your path is nothing like the homeschooling family next door (or across the country) remember that every child is different and God sent this child to you, not them. He knows you can give them what they need to become who they are meant to be. You are amazing! You are fabulous! You are not alone!! You’ve got this!!!! 

Bente Rodriguez has been homeschooling her 15 children for 20-plus years. She has 3 married children, 3 in college, 1 on a mission, and 8 still at home. Bente is married to her wonderful husband, Todd. She lives in Butler, Ohio on a mini farm where she loves to work outside and milk her cow when she’s not reading. Her proudest achievement of 2023 was finally learning to crochet after years of patient tutoring from her children.