Homeschool Hope

I Barely Graduated High School | Yet, I Homeschool My Children

…Let’s Talk About Feeling Inadequate

by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba 

The Beginning 

When I envisioned my life as a parent, being a home educator was nowhere in the equation. For one, I thought homeschooling was weird, but even when I did grasp some knowledge of it, the thought of me being a home educator was pretty comical.

You see, I was that kid in high school no one was thinking about. (Or at least that was my perception) I was shy, and wasn’t involved in any social activities. I had a few hit and miss friends. I didn’t dress well. We lived in unstable conditions (which was highly embarrassing). And to top it off – I was not a very good student. I did not enjoy school. During class time, I never raised my hand to ask questions because I was afraid of being laughed at. I also never stayed behind to ask my teachers any questions because I felt my teachers would make fun of me too.

When my classmates would sit around and talk about college, I sat listening with envy. I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to college. I simply drifted through my high school years.

My counselor made me aware during the second semester of my junior year that I was not going to graduate because of my low grades. She was a very nice woman. She went out of her way to help me make up classes.

So, while most of my senior class enjoyed only four classes each day and went home at lunchtime (I had nine classes each day, plus Saturday school). I was in classes with freshman. (Seriously, how embarrassing is that?!)

After trudging through the embarrassment of nine classes, I eventually did enough to graduate high school.

That was great!

But it wasn’t enough. I did not have basic learning skills to live as an adult.

In my early twenties I had a job as a receptionist. The company I worked for had two receptionist and I was one of them. I love to write stories, and I shared one of my stories with my co-worker.

As she began reading one of my stories, she had a strange look on her face.

She told me I had no idea how to write or spell. She said my story was great, but my writing and spelling were atrocious. I did not know this. No one had every made me aware of this issue. I sat there embarrassed. I did not know what to say.

I sat there and thought about all the resumes I had sent out when I was looking for a job. I thought about that job. “How on earth did I get this job, I wondered?” Then I remembered; someone I was friends with mentioned me to the hiring person. I never had to send in a résumé.

How was I going to get through life in this manner?

Fast Forward

Well, fast-forward years later to married life, becoming a parent, and faced with homeschooling my children. I have shared before that homeschooling was not a part of my plan.

So how does a mother who could not write or spell coming out of high school, end up as a home educator? In addition to my issue with writing and spelling; I was very bad in math. I also did not know anything about American history, world history, social studies, science or geography. How on earth was I going to teach my children any of this!

I meet a lot of parents today who were either former teachers, or earned advanced degrees before they started homeschooling. Feeling inadequate was a huge understatement in my case.

But God…

You see, through the years I have learned some very important aspects surrounding the beauty of homeschooling. God taught me early on that I could be vulnerable with my children. I did not need to know everything for them to trust me. I embraced the idea of learning together. When I am silly enough to think I have nothing to offer my children as a home educator, God reminds me that homeschooling is not always about textbooks and straight A’s.

Here are few of our learning highlights:

  • Keep Going – Don’t Give Up!

When I realized (in my early twenties) I was horrible at writing and spelling, there was no pity party. I also did not give in and accept the issue I had. I bought writing and spelling books and I would read and study them. I eventually entered college at thirty-one, and to my surprise, I ended up with the highest grade in my English class!

A few years ago, when my son Jaden was seven, we went to a skating rink during the middle of the day. (The beauty of homeschool). He was having trouble skating and kept falling. He wanted to go home because he could not skate around the rink without holding the wall. I told Jaden that he was not going to give up. We were going to stay there until he was able to go around the rink once without holding the wall.

After about twenty minutes, he did it! He came off the floor with that silly half shy smile children give. I said to him; “I told you, you could do it!”

You might be thinking; “What does this have to do with homeschooling?” Encouragement in one area motivates children in other areas. Believe it or not, Jaden skating around the rink without holding on, after wanting to give up, could easily translate into, “I can do my math problems too!”

I have many similar stories I could share about all of our children.

I tell them on a regular basis, ” I told you, you could do it!”

I say those words when it comes to their schoolwork and activities. We do not always have happy endings, but I encourage them to try, work hard – and never give up.

(Jaden at seven-years-old, right before he finally made it around the skating rink without holding the side)

  • Be a Life Learner

As I mentioned, I did not learn much during my school years, in terms of academics. I have shared with my children the struggles I had growing up. We have embraced the idea of learning together. I truly enjoy learning from historic places, watching documentaries, or traveling on road trips.

In 2010, our first year to homeschool, me and the kids prayed together that God would allow us to visit different places to learn as a family.

Since that 2010 prayer we have visited some very cool historic places. We have visited historic sites in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico, Chicago, and Ohio. We continue to pray for opportunities to go even further into our world of history, but I remember that prayer very often. God answered our prayer as a family to learn together. I may not have learned much in my younger school days, but I can enjoy every moment of it now – with my family.

(Family field trip to Morrilton, AR)

  • Character Building

That brings me to my final point. When I focus on not being adequate to homeschool my children academically, I remind myself of how me and Omar do our best to raise our children with godly character. I was not raised in a Christian home, neither was Omar. I became a Christian when, by chance, I found a book in my garage that had been left by the previous owners of our house. Me and Omar had already been married six years and our then three children, were very young. The book was called “The Sermon on the Mount”. I read that book within three days. That book put Jesus Christ into total perspective for me. I had searched for hope and purpose – and I knew at that moment Jesus Christ was it. It was a Friday evening when I became a Christian. I woke up that Monday morning, quit the job I had, enrolled into Bible College, found a church, and have never looked back!

Jesus Christ is the center of our lives. Me and Omar wake up very early every single day to study our Bible together, and to pray. We desire to do more than teach our children from a daily Bible curriculum. We do our best to live as godly examples for them. We have no idea how it will all turn out as they get older, but it is our goal to raise young men and women who live in obedience to God, respect authority, pray for our nation and leaders, serve in their church and community, and become godly husbands, wives, and parents.

At the end of the day, do we care about A’s? We care about our children working hard in their academics because God honors and blesses education. We have very few days off throughout the school year. But in reality, we care more about raising children who have godly character.

Homeschooling is not just about spewing out sit down lectures each day. When you feel inadequate, remember that you can learn so much about yourself, your family – and this world by embracing the beauty, fun, and flexibility of homeschooling. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of what our lives “should” have been like. I remember being angry one day because it is hard going to college as an adult, with a family. I was angry about not going to college right after high school. I felt like I could offer my children so much more if I were “smarter” by the time I had them. But I had to remind myself that my life today would be vastly different if anything in my earlier life were different. I would not have the husband I have or the children I have. God is an ever-present God and with His mercy and grace – He will guide the here and now.

One final point:  We all forget sometimes that when we feel inadequate, or when there seems to be no way – God is the way. God gets the glory when we turn to Him for our daily provisions.

You are the greatest teacher for your child. Trust God – seek Him – and rely of His wisdom for you and your family.

(The Ruvalcaba Family Easter 2018)

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba

Update: This article was written in 2018. The Ruvalcaba family continue to learn and grow through godly wisdom with fun and flexibility in homeschooling.