Transitioning to the Final Years of Homeschooling

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Last weekend I caught myself staring at our large whiteboard in the dining room. We haven’t used it much in our homeschool this year. or even last year. 

How could that be?

This whiteboard has been a homeschooling staple in our home for a decade. And now it sits untouched with all of my word wall posters surrounding it.

And then it hit me….

We have moved beyond the stage of group teaching and group activities and everything that required a whiteboard. It isn’t essential to our homeschool life now that the kids are older.

I can take the whiteboard down and reclaim the dining room wall in my front hall. I can hang pictures or artwork or anything I want.

It makes me want to dance for joy and sob at the same time.

Not because I’ll miss a whiteboard, but because so much is changing as my kids grow up.

The Final Years of Homeschooling

I knew the final years of homeschooling would eventually arrive, but now that they are here I am feeling a little lost in the transtion.

I know there is still time, but everything has changed so much and at times, it leaves me longing for the days of nature walks, history crafts, and days of creative play on the floor.

The Changes Begin

Five years ago I began the strange transition from elementary homeschool mom to middle school homeschool mom when my oldest began 7th grade.

It was hard and I had to grapple with all sorts of changes in our homeschool world.

But I still had three elementary schoolers, so I was able to keep a familiar piece of our homeschool while learning to embrace the changes that came with homeschooling a teen.

This year I am facing the reality that my last child will be in 7th grade next year and we are starting another major transition in our homeschool.

This time there aren’t any more elementary schoolers. My youngest guy is bringing up the rear and as he moves on to the next stage, so does my entire homeschool.

I am watching the homeschool doors close on my life as the primary teacher, craft planner, unit study creator, and the “let’s toss everything and go play” mom.

Let’s Be Real

Of course, the reality is that my days of being a crafty homeschool mom, traveling the world through books, and completing unit studies with my babies have been done for a while.

But honestly, they were such fun years. Sometimes my soul still misses them if I am honest.

And I know that technically Daniel still has 6 more years of K-12 education to complete at home. But I have been here before and the reality is that within 2-4 years most of his work will be completed without me. 

And in just over 4 years he will begin driving, working a job, making his own social plans, and possibly taking dual enrollment classes. 

I will become full time support personnel when it comes to his education.

And with his impending 6th-grade graduation, the light at the end of the homeschooling tunnel is starting to shine brighter and my life is going to transform into something new and different.

And I am sure it will be great.

But right now it feels weird. confusing. and a little bit scary.

House of Teens

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love having a house full of tweens and teens. Nothing has been more delightful than seeing my kids blossom into unique individuals pursuing their own passions and forging their own paths.

But 18 years ago I left my teaching career to embark on my stay at home mom journey and along the way, our family began our homeschooling journey.

And I wouldn’t change the choices we made at all.

But I knew this life would come to an end “one day.”

And now that day is just around the corner. Because I know how quickly these teen years fly by. So now I find myself beginning to wonder what might be next on the horizon for me.

Honestly. I don’t know.

I don’t have answers right now. Instead, I have a lot of questions. And I am working through them to find my future.

The Land of Uncertainty

I’ll admit that this is all particularly strange for me because I have ALWAYS known what I wanted to do in the next stage. 

When I was young, I knew I wanted to be a teacher so my college and career years were on a pretty well-defined path. There wasn’t a lot of uncertainty.

I also knew I wanted to quit teaching to raise my kids full time. And when homeschooling came along as an idea, I knew it was a good fit.

Sure life has thrown some curveballs, but there hasn’t been a moment like this one. A moment where I sit in a space without any idea what comes next. Or even what the path is going to look like. Or how to find a destination.

I am fairly certain it will involve teaching in some capacity, but I have no clue what that will be.

One Day at a Time

This transition time is an awkward one in our homeschool. I am definitely not needed during the day the way I once was, but I am needed sporadically so I can’t really get into my own thing completely.

Right now, my main job is to be available, at least that is what it feels like. At any given moment one of the kids might need help with their homeschool lessons, college essays, or to talk about ideas in areas of their own pursuits.

So my day is pretty disjointed right now and I suspect that I’ll be in this limbo area for a while.

And like every stage before, I’ll enjoy the beauty, the joy, the sadness, and the change it brings as my kids find their own paths and they begin to climb.

I trust that eventually I’ll see a path in the woods for me and I can begin to climb as well.

Starting to homeschool older kids? You might enjoy these posts:

Homeschooling Teens: One Mom’s Transition

Math Games Your Teens and Tweens will Love

50 Engaging Teen Books into Movies

The Very Best Board Games You and Your Teens Will Love

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5 thoughts on “Transitioning to the Final Years of Homeschooling”

  1. I love this post! It is well written and captures the emotions of this stage of motherhood. The “in the next few years I want to ________, but right now I still need to be here.” A season of waiting. Not my fave! Thanks for taking the time to write the feelings down and share them too.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Mary. I agree with Karyn, you captured the emotions of this season well. My youngest is just a year behind yours and my middle son wants to go to high school next year while my oldest will be a senior. We’ve never done school and the thought being on someone else’s schedule and agenda is filling me with so many feelings. Also having just one kiddo to actually homeschool is a new concept too. I’m used to my houseful of boys and I don’t have any idea what next year will look like. And then the year after that, I’ll be in a whole different season of life, much like you described here. It’s nice to know there are other mamas going before me and I look forward to hearing more about your journey. I’m grateful you have this space to share as I’m off social media and have really been enjoying blogs again. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

    1. It is always changing and like you said, we just have to take it year by year. I fully embraced the year my daughter tried school, even though it was so weird. Of course, it didn’t work out long for her but it was a great experience. And it taught my kids that I am ALWAYS going to support their choices. Sounds like you have the same philosophy there.

      And it is weird having just one at the bottom (whether home alone or with busy siblings). I’ve always had a “group” to homeschool. So I get that.

      I’ve been trying to do more blogging these days and keep myself off social media as much too. It’s too volatile. <3

  3. Mary, you just spoke to my heart. I cried because you finally put what I’ve been trying to voice to those around me into such clear words. It’s hard for people to understand that after 9 years of homeschooling my 10th and 8th graders don’t need me much anymore and all the fun unit planning, books, crafts…well, I am just really not liking this limbo stage…and, you’re right, we can’t move on because they need us once in a while throughout the day and, honestly, I don’t want to miss even one of those times where they need me – or just want to sit and chat over hot cocoa because I know they will get rarer and rarer, but I don’t know what to do with myself…how many times can I mop the floor or stretch out folding the laundry? I’m ashamed to admit I’m kind of bored…limbo stinks, but I don’t want to be anywhere else right now. I’d love to hear what other moms are doing to get through this???? I feel like I’m not letting them go and be totally independent even thought they’re totally able because I don’t know how I’d fill the time….

    1. Exactly. I want to be here when they suddenly decide to open up and chat, but it means I am twiddling my thumbs sometimes. And if I do get into something, I am often interrupted and I can’t complete a thought. It’s a weird stage. I can’t really “move on,” but I can’t go backwards and dive into some homeschool crafty unit studies either. I have been getting to the gym daily now and enjoying that freedom. I try to blog, but that’s where the interruptions really break up my writing process – HA!

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