This is for every Mom, Dad, Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle or anyone else who is full of doubt and is asking themselves “should I homeschool this child”.
Let me start off by saying that you are not alone. This is a question that every homeschooler has asked themselves at some point. Sometimes the question comes before the decision is made and sometimes it comes days, weeks, months or even years after you’ve started your journey. Sometimes the answer to the question changes thanks to life getting in or out of the way. Sometimes the question answers itself and sometimes it’s more complicated.
What’s in your heart?
While I’m not a religious person, I have seen so many people talk about deciding to homeschool after having a conversation with ‘God’. All of these people were drawn to homeschooling for one reason or another and just needed a little guidance to make their decision, they chose prayer to guide them. Those of us who aren’t religious can get the same type of reassurance that we are making the best decision simply by searching deep inside ourselves to find what is in our heart.
Do you feel like this is the RIGHT thing to do? I’m not asking if you have doubts about whether you can manage financially or if you are unsure if you would be a qualified teacher, we’ll get to that in a bit. I am asking if you feel like homeschooling is the right thing to do for your family. The feeling doesn’t have to be huge and swollen in your heart, it just needs to be there. You need to feel, in some way, that homeschooling is the right for yourself, for your kids, for your family. This is the MOST important piece of your decision, all of the other doubts and obstacles can be worked around.
The mountain known as doubt.
Maybe the feeling of ‘rightness’ is tiny and surrounded by a mountain of doubt. Do you let the doubt defeat you before you even begin? Are you worried about your ability? Your finances? Socialization for your kids? Worried that you and the kids won’t be happy? That you’ll feel crazy being with the kids so much? Doubt is nothing to be ashamed of, and it will never go away completely. It’s a treacherous mountain full of traps and steep, hard to climb cliffs.
Do you give up when you’ve fallen into a trap or do you fight to get yourself back out and on your path?
Climbing the mountain.
No one climbs a mountain without training and research.
Approach your mountain by researching topics that inspire or concern you. Find other homeschoolers that have had the same doubts and ask them how they overcame them. Ask many people. If one person’s experience doesn’t help you, maybe another’s will. Connect with local homeschoolers through sites like Meetup. Find moms in online communities who will support you and answer your questions. There are SO MANY facebook groups dedicated to homeschoolers and the vast majority of theme are happy to answer any questions you might have. Search the web for sites that talk about the various approaches. And, most importantly, determine what the laws are in your state.
There is a wealth of information out there just waiting for you to find it. Just don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the information and end up in a state of inaction
The steep financial cliff looming overhead.
Is the doubt coming from a fear of not being able to afford to be a ‘stay at home parent’? Homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and abandon your income. There are many homeschooling parents who work part or full-time both inside and outside of the home. One of the wonderful things about homeschooling is that you don’t have to do it from 8-3 Monday thru Friday. You can school during the time frame that works best for you whether that means splitting the school day up or doing it in the evening Thursday thru Sunday. Let homeschooling work around your schedule.
The ‘I’m not good enough’ trap.
Perhaps you doubt your ability to teach your child. Maybe you didn’t go to college, or your grades weren’t great in high school. Maybe you just really suck at math or grammar. It’s ok. You’re not alone, there are so many of us out there who have the same doubts as you.
The truth is, there is just a ton of help available for almost any subject. YouTube, for instance, is a great place to find videos explaining a nearly infinite number of subjects. Khan Academy offers free online practice exercises and instructional videos for a wide range of ages and subjects. There are online tutors, Facebook groups, and websites dedicated to helping you and your child figure out that math problem. Not to mention, that most curriculum publishers offer EASY to follow instructions with exactly what to say to the students written out.
Everyone is capable of teaching their children, period.
The fear of isolation.
Are you concerned you’ll get halfway up the mountain only to realize that you are lost and alone? One of the most prominent anti-homeschooling arguments is the concern over the supposed lack of socialization that homeschoolers suffer. The truth is, it’s just not an issue unless you make it one. Take the kids to the park to play with others, join a local homeschool group, sign your kids up for sports or music lessons, volunteer, go to church if you’re into that. Just get them out of the house a day or two a week and they’ll be fine.
Take a look at this short article to get a better idea of the truth behind the socialization myth.
Finding the sunshine in the middle of a storm.
There will be days when the sky is black and the hard rain of misery and doubt will beat against your face. On those days you must keep your footing and keep climbing to find the sunlight. As you march on the sun will shine more and the storms will be less frequent.
The reality of being both your child’s teacher and parent is that there will be bad days. They are unavoidable, the stars will just misalign and they will happen. There will be days when you are tired of fighting to get your kid to do their math, or your kid is just not ‘feeling’ school that day, or the curriculum you thought would be perfect just isn’t working…or a million other things. The best thing you can do at times like these is to know that we’ve all been there.
The most seasoned homeschoolers will tell you to take a moment (or an hour, a day, a week) step back and reset. Think about what’s not working and make adjustments. A problem that seems difficult in the moment may have a much clearer solution once the rain has cleared.
Just keep climbing.
So, while the mountain may appear big and menacing now, know that if you keep climbing the top will soon be in sight. You will reach the top of that mountain, even if you do stumble and fall along the way. The view at the top is worth the journey getting there.
I hope that this inspires you and helps you reach the top of your mountain. I know you can do it, and deep inside you do as well. One day, you’ll look back and see so much beauty in your journey.