Should I Homeschool?
If you are anything like I was the question ‘Should I homeschool?’ was one I contemplated for years.
I want to equip you for the biggest homeschool battle you will probably face in the days ahead. This will surpass: getting your documentation prepared, the resistance from family and friends, and working out what you actually need to teach. Whilst these external pressures will no-doubt unsettle you the big battlefield is in your mind and this is where you will wage war with these issues.
Even if you are completely convinced that homeschooling is what you want to do, doubts, insecurities and comparison will always surface and increase anxiety about your choice to homeschool. Each time you make a mistake, feel lazy or your child behaves badly you will wonder if the grass is greener somewhere else.
In some ways this anxiety never goes – and you will always homeschool feeling a little scared but it is very comforting to know that most homeschool mothers face these fears. And with a little support you can often find answers to your questions. And that is one of the reasons I blog – so you can find solutions and encouragement to specific issues that you face.
Family & Friends Are Convinced I Shouldn’t Home School
It would be the rare homeschooling family who have all their family and friends support their decision to homeschooling. Friends have been vocal telling me why they will NEVER homeschool.
Even today after 18 years of homeschooling some family members have never given their approval. I think they think I was just lucky they turned out.
However some of my friends who were adamant it was wrong have come full circle and wished they had homeschooled. Some even started homeschooling.
Will It Be Too Hard
I am starting to understand the underlying issues that have caused me to struggle and stress over the years. I wanted to share these struggles to encourage you that we all have times when we wonder ‘should I homeschool my child?’.
I also wanted to encourage you to overcome these obstacles; grow stronger and strengthen you on your homeschooling journey. At the end of each section I have asked some questions that you might like to ask yourself.
Everything is a trade off – as they say “Choose your hard!”. Essentialism illustrates this concept very well.
Work Out Your Vision For Homeschooling
I felt passionate about homeschooling when I heard about it. Somehow I knew it was for me. A quite voice in my heart said this is something you should do Michelle. My husband also heard that quite voice. We are Christians and this my story of how I have dealt with the question – ‘should I homeschool?’.
I believe that God placed the vision to homeschool in my heart, but finding how to apply the vision in my life has been a difficult journey. When I started there were no courses like My Homeschool. When the pressure seemed overwhelming, I questioned if homeschooling was really what I should be doing.
On two separate occasions I did my best to ignore that vision and sent some of my kids to school for a term, however the passion to homeschool remained and we began again. Whilst I finally settled the issue, I knew I began homeschooling for the children’s sake – and that remained the guidepost.
1. Why are you homeschooling?
2. What is your vision in homeschooling?
You Are The Best Teacher Even If You’re Not Perfect!
I am not a perfect homeschool mother and I know you are not either, neither are the homeschooling gurus – Charlotte Mason didn’t even have kids. I have areas of weakness just like you. How do I know, because the Bible tells me so! It says ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the of glory of God.’ Romans 3:23.
When I had a bad day homeschooling because I lost my temper with a child, felt unmotivated, or did my own thing, I would tell myself that I am such a bad mother and maybe my kids would be better off in school after all.
God knows I am a sinner and that what I need to do is go to him for forgiveness. It is not homeschooling that is making me a sinner it is my sinful nature. Keep a short account of your sins and repent and ask God to forgive you.
I have a friend who found that once she started reading a book she couldn’t stop. The whole house collapsed for the day but the book got read. Knowing this temptation was too great for her she started giving the book she was reading to her husband to take to work. Sounds extreme but it worked. Flee that temptation that keeps letting you down. Just remember that temptation is a normal part of the human experience. We are all tempted to sin but that is not sin. Don’t feel guilty about the temptations, deal with them.
1. What sins should you confess?
2. What tempts you?
3. How are you going to deal with that temptation?
Education and the Academics Trap
Sometimes in my enthusiasm for new ideas I can get caught up in the academics and trying to do all the things others are doing. My pride says I want to look good and I want my kids to seem smart to everybody. I become focused on the curriculum and not on the child.
The homeschooling books I read become a ‘rod for my back’, and not the helpful resource that they were meant to be.
The expectations these curriculums place on me can make me feel anxious and guilty because I know that I can’t find the time to do all that they require. I then get sucked into the academic struggle when I see what my kids could achieve: if I spent more time focusing on academics; if I bought a particular curriculum; if I made them work harder. I wonder; should I do Latin; what about Greek?
However I need to remind myself. I can’t do it all.
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:12-13.
Is buying curriculum wrong? No of course not, I have learnt many things from using some of the great resources available to homeschoolers, but I don’t let myself get legalistic about following someone else’s plan. I use it as a guide or suggestion for how I might approach a particular subject. I am not worried about the curriculum police anymore.
Mary Collis makes this statement that I wholeheartedly agree with,
“Our education should be an infrastructure to support what God has us here for- – to lift up His name in this day and age, and to make disciples of all nations. Education without this purpose is nothing but idolatry” Thoughts on Classics, A Living Education
So how then should we deal with this struggle? Well I believe wisdom is the key. Realise that there is no PERFECT homeschool method. All have pro’s and con’s. Be realistic about the workload. Use the wise words of experienced homeschoolers. As I have continued on this journey I have found that the emphasis is not on the academics but rather on the end result and for me that is – children who love God and are equipped to follow their calling in life.
1. How do you feel about the homeschool method you have chosen?
2. How is your curriculum working for your family?
3. How are you equipping your children for their future?
Struggle with the Expectations of Others
In my early days as a homeschool mum I tried to be all things to all people. I would attend most things I was invited to. Help out when asked at church. My friends and family would always ring in the morning and I found it hard not to talk. Then people would drop in and not go home and expect my full attention. Attending to other people’s needs meant I was neglecting the children. What was I to do? I thought I cannot possibly meet everyone’s needs and homeschool. If I asked for advice from extended family or friends they would all recommend that I should put the kids in school, then I was back on the emotional roller coaster – homeschool v’s school?
From a practical point of view I think the biggest help for me was when I read in Catherine Levinson’s comment, that I should expect to stay home and school. This may sound obvious to you but for me it was very helpful. I had permission to stay home and teach. I then started to tell my friends that I had set school hours and that as a general rule couldn’t break them. I also pulled the phone out of the hook and learnt to say no.
I also found that I needed support from other homeschooling mothers. These women understood the struggles that I was going through and could offer helpful tips to deal with some issues I was facing. I have also received encouragement from the online homeschooling communities.
1. What expectations have others of me that I cannot fulfil?
2. How should I deal with those expectations?
3. How can I get the support that I need?
Endurance with God’s Strength
During preparation of this article I have drawn much wisdom from the book of Romans in the Bible and I encourage you to read it also in light of the struggles you are facing.
Paul exhorts us to not become entangled with the Law but to be led by the Spirit, to endure in our sufferings, to walk in the forgiveness and the righteousness of Christ and not condemnation.
Re-calibrate your thinking to God’s direction, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in accordance with His word. Let that be the pinnacle of your homeschooling experience, not guilt, a philosophy, a secular bench march, or the expectations of others.
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