Today’s topic is one that seems to pop into my head, just as we are about to begin the homeschool season. We aren’t scheduled to begin our classes until next Monday, but I wanted to get a jump on this blog because our first week back is always a hit and miss of tantrums, pouting, and a little frustration. The kids aren’t particularly fond of that type of behavior – after all – I am the mom!
After a little thought, I posed the question to our children, wanting to know if there is anything that keeps them awake at night. Naturally, we all want our children to be worry free, and if we thought homeschooling would take the edge off, we might have been slightly mistaken. Kids will worry about all sorts of stuff. Christmas, birthday presents, that new video game that was just released. They even worry about what snacks they’ll have (because some are just picky eaters). But I wanted to know more about their thoughts on homeschool.
The Question: “Thinking about homeschool, tell me what keeps you awake at night”.
And just like the little talkers they are, they each had their response ready in a matter of minutes. This is good because it tells me they are being honest. It’s bad, because they think about it so much, they already had their answer prepared.
Their response was typical, but nevertheless, some were not what I wanted to hear.
Then I asked myself the question. Of course, they were typical homeschool mom questions.
So, sit down and hold on as I prepare to answer the 10 questions about homeschooling that will keep you up at night!
1. “What will I learn?”
Of course! Every school-aged child is curious about what they are going to learn. But sometimes, kids worry a little more than they should, especially if there are subjects they do not feel “drawn” to, such as math or history. Such classes can often elicit tears, headache, and even heartache if not understood relatively quickly. Paying close attention to their strengths and weaknesses is a vital piece of their feeling more comfortable with their assignments and course work. Additionally, adding a way of staying organized will also help and I’ll discuss that issue a little later in the post.
Also from my 7th grader:
2. “Will the world accept me, having been a homeschooler?”
The fear of every mother sometimes rests on whether we are accepted in mainstream society, seeing as how we’ve bucked traditional school for a nontraditional approach. It’s only natural that our children harbor these same feelings. The best way to handle this question is to let your children know they are needed because they are here. Not to sound preachy, but God doesn’t make mistakes, and each life has a purpose. Whether society accepts us or not has nothing to do with how we learn, where we learn, or who teaches us. Some sound advice there for momma’s and daddy’s who have trouble kicking the thought that “society has to accept me”. Accept yourself, that’s what matters!
From my 5th grader:
3. “What are we going to be doing the next day?”
Again, we see there is a piece missing. In public school, kids never knew the lesson plans that awaited them when they would return the next day. As homeschool mom’s and dad’s, we hold on to those lesson plans as if they were triple dipped in gold. But what is the harm in letting the children know what the general plan are for the next day? Now, you certainly wouldn’t want to tell them about a pop quiz, otherwise, you just burst the bubble. But having an organized system or methodology certain would help ease those little minds. More on organization in a little bit.
Of course, parents have numerous thoughts running through their mind at any given time, and if you are like me, they hit as soon as your head hits the pillow. Fighting between thinking about the question, creating a solution for it, and sleep becomes an all-out war as you lay there needing sleep.
4. Am I good enough?
As parents, society often criticizes us about our “qualifications” to homeschool. These thoughts can wear us down quick if we allow them to. The best way to nip this question in the bud is to recognize the following: You gave birth to them. You know them more than any teacher in the public/private sector ever could. You know what you want them to know. If you don’t know it, you’ll see to it they are taught by the best, because you will utilize every friend, neighbor, resource, and retired school teacher friend you can find to ensure they are armed with the knowledge they need. Are you good enough? Of course, you are! You do not need a certificate and college debt to confer your abilities as a homeschool parent. Does this mean that homeschooling is for everyone? Absolutely not. But if you have chosen to, or feel pressed to homeschool, then by all means, work it!
5. Did I print their worksheets?
Does this one really need an explanation? Yes. Organization is the key to a successful homeschool operation. Finding a method can sometimes resort to trial and error, but rest assured, when you find a method that works, you will no longer wrestle with this question. There are several ways to organize your homeschool. As such, you can find a plethora of ways to organize your homeschool just by using google. Many bloggers offer insight into organizing, from free methods, all the way to purchased guides. My advice on this: Do not purchase any until you have committed to getting organized – that is – you have decided that organization is necessary for you to continue and you have made a personal promise to yourself to do it. Finding the right method is only a small fraction compared to the dedication needed in the follow-through. Once you are organized, this question will never cross your mind again (well, unless you run out of printer ink the night before!)
6. Is our curriculum working?
This is a question that often arises midway through the school year. For some parents, they are confident in the curriculum they’ve chosen for their children. Others however, are not as certain that they have chosen the best one. Is there a best one? Who knows. The fact is, with all the publishers out there, you can never be sure. Each one has their own method of delivery, some are worldlier, where others offer a more religious view, and then there are the parents like me, who could not settle for one particular publisher, so they picked over the material and built their own curricula. The answer to this question may never truly be resolved, but one thing is for certain: Teaching with love, compassion, grace, and confidence can make all the difference in the world – and you are the author!
7. What do the neighbors think?
“Why aren’t they in school? Why are they outdoors when they should be in school? Why are they at the grocery store? How are they learning like this? What are you teaching them?” Neighbors can be and often are your toughest critic when it comes to homeschooling your children. Their unwanted comments and snarky opinions can break a parent down quick. Some parents have a rehearsed response. Others wing their answers based on the attitude of the person questioning them. I’ve decided that no answer I provide will sway them to fully understand the reasons why we homeschool. When confronted by neighbors about these types of questions, I often laugh at the narrowmindedness, and then respond simply by saying, “we homeschool because we want to learn more than what schools teach, and without the unnecessary time wasted in public schools. They are my children and your worry is not needed where their education is concerned.” Sometimes it works, other times, it doesn’t. But really, do we need to be bothered by what the neighbors think?
8. Are my kids learning?
Go to sleep already! Yes. They are learning. So, what if they aren’t the genius you (or your family and friends) think they should be by now. Homeschooling isn’t a magic trick where a 4-year-old can recite a few lines of iambic pentameter from one of Shakespeare’s plays. Homeschooling will not make your 8-year-old a genius in two months, graduating high school and college by 16. (Yes, I know there are some, but those are very rare instances that will not be discussed here… today!) Your child is learning because each day they wake up capable of understanding something new. Rest little momma’s and daddy’s – Rome wasn’t built in a day!
9. Do I have them doing too much/too little extracurricular activities?
This one is a constant for me. Primarily because we live in a very rural area, lacking many of the opportunities that more metropolitan have. Because of this deficiency, we find ourselves struggling to find things to do to increase our “social” place. However, it can be all too easy to find yourself overwhelmed with opportunities and before you know it – homeschooling is no longer the relaxed atmosphere you’d originally hoped for, but rather, a spectacle. Traveling here and there, planning for this and for that, losing quality time to learn as a family. Am I saying extracurricular activities are not necessary? No, absolutely not! What I am saying is that you should work to find a balance. One that meets your needs as a parent and your child’s needs for extra activity. The most important thing is to ask your child how he or she feels about what all they are doing? If they are not enjoying it, don’t push it. Your child may not be the next Mozart. They may not be the next Olympic gymnast. They may not be the next professional swimmer. But they just might be the next one to find a cure for cancer, or perhaps travel to Mars, or they may be the best mechanic, engineer, or EMT the world has ever seen. Cultivate what they love and you’ll never regret it.
10. Do my children understand why I chose homeschooling?
Children who have been homeschooled from pre-K may not question this. Children who have at least some time in the public-school system just might. As parents, we have a multitude of reasons for choosing to homeschool. Whether it is because of bullying, the negative learning that happens as they get older, or the school just doesn’t meet our standards, the reasons go on and on. However, getting our children to understand is something that may not happen until they are fully grown and have children of their own. Why? Because they do not know what it is like to worry about a child, being a child themselves. The experience we have gained in homeschooling is another tool in our box of living. Yet our children haven’t yet begun to build their toolbox because they have no need to – yet. But the time will come, someday, when they are faced with life as adults, and will come to you saying, “Mom, what should I do”. That is when you explain it and they will understand. Of course, you can tell them as children, why you chose homeschooling… but as soon as their favorite cartoon comes on, I bet they will forget!
There you have it… 10 questions about homeschooling
that will keep you up at night – Answered!
Now, go to sleep!