It’s not easy. Homeschooling, that is. We homeschoolers are forever going against the flow, paddling upstream against the current of tradition in an effort to give our children the values and education we deem important. Some days are great; some days are…well, not so great. But either way, we persevere in commitment along the homeschooling journey because we believe we are doing what is best for our children and our families. But it’s often a challenge to do things “differently”; to choose a path that is contrary to the “norm”. Add to that challenge the tremendous responsibility for your child’s educational development, and it’s not surprising that most homeschoolers are in need of a bit of encouragement!
For those non-homeschoolers (mother-in-laws included!) who seek to be a support for home educating moms, there are a lot of ways to lighten the load and provide encouragement. Making a meal, providing free childcare, or helping with transportation are just a few of the things that come to mind. But sometimes the best support can come from what you don’t say. Even well-meaning non-homeschoolers can stick a pin into the home educator’s balloon of optimism with a few uninformed comments. When a homeschool mom is feeling unsure, stressed, inadequate, or just downright exhausted about the homeschooling experience, the last thing she needs is to have her chosen path questioned. Here are 3 of the top things guaranteed to transform a typically unflappable homeschool super-mom into a crazy madwoman:
1. Aren’t you afraid that you won’t be able to give your kids everything they need educationally?
The simple answer? Yes. It’s a question many of us homeschool moms wrestle with every day, stay up late agonizing over at night, and feverishly work to combat during schooling hours. We often struggle with a sense of being overwhelmed that we cannot do it all, and we sacrifice time and money on a daily basis to make sure we are covering all the bases. But we also know that we have a higher investment in our own children than anyone else on the planet does, and that we have the freedom to individualize our instruction to the personal needs of each child, rather than fitting the child to a curriculum. And we recognize that we are not doing it alone; we have support networks, co-ops, online teachers, community college classes and endless resources at our disposal to help us give our kids what they need.
So what we need is to not be questioned about whether or not we can do it all. We need to be commended for the educational efforts we do provide every day, and directed toward and encouraged to use the resources available to us, so that we do not feel like we have to do it all.
2. Are you concerned about your children’s socialization?
Aren’t you? (Oh wait – did I say that out loud?)
Homeschoolers don’t generally have time to ponder this question, with all of the transportation to homeschool soccer leagues, piano lessons, co-op meetings, part-time job, church activities, choir, art classes, summer camp, mission projects, dance practice, swim team, service activities, family business responsibilities, and volunteer projects. As we participate in all of these engagements, our kids are surrounded by people of all different ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds, which helps to prepare them to live in the real world (one where people are not segregated according to age and geographical locale) and know how to interact with individuals from all walks of life. By the way, with the statistics on bullying and school violence being what they are, many of us also question the wisdom that the optimal socialization experience for a group of 12-year-olds is another group of 12-year-olds. I’d like to give a longer answer to this question, but we are going by our local nursing home to play the piano for some patients, and then we have baseball practice and violin lessons after that. You’re welcome to come, if you’d like to see our children’s socialization in action.
3. If homeschooling isn’t working out, you can always just put them in public (or private) school.
We are homeschooling because we believe it is what is best for our family. It is sometimes difficult, and sometimes does not go well. But we do not want to be encouraged to give it up; we want encouragement to keep going. We want you to respect our choice to homeschool as the right decision for us, and not deter us from that path. Just as a family who has chosen public school for their children does not want to be told “Well, you should just take him out and homeschool him” when their child struggles in school, homeschoolers do not want to be told to throw in the towel when times get hard. Homeschooling is a long journey, and moms need support in seeing the big picture instead of getting bogged down by the small details and frustrations along the way. If you hear, “I don’t think I can do this anymore” from us, think of it not as a desire to abandon the homeschooling journey, but a cry for encouragement and support along the path we’ve already chosen. Point out how great a job we’re doing, offer to watch the kids for awhile, give us a night out on the town with friends or our spouse, and let us know that you believe in us. And then tomorrow we’ll wake up with renewed energy to tackle the most exciting, challenging, amazing task ever put before us – homeschooling our kids.