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Finding Ideas, Not Discouragement

With the renaissance of homeschooling in the early 1980s came a trickle, and then a flood, of books and magazines about homeschooling. These were eagerly read by homeschooling parents wanting to know how others were teaching their children, because there weren’t many homeschoolers around to talk with.

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Today, reading about how other families homeschool their children is almost too easy. There are more magazines and books than ever, plus countless blogs on the Internet where parents reveal every last detail of their homeschooling journeys, or so it seems.

There’s a very real danger here, however. With so much personal revelation out there, it’s way too easy to compare your family and your homeschooling experience to others. This is not a good thing!

You can always find someone whose homeschooling experience sounds far more successful than your own. It’s way too tempting to think, “We have so many struggles, and after reading about this family, it’s obvious that I’m in over my head in this homeschooling thing. Her kids are doing so many wonderful projects, and I have to fight to get mine away from the video games to do anything. I give up!”

The fact is that every family is different, and no family can imitate another and come up with the same results. It’s not fair to compare another family to yours: different kids, different parents, and different financial situations. When you read about other homeschooling families, try to think about which of their ideas would work for your family instead of imitating everything they do in a misguided attempt to “succeed.”

Besides, homeschooling success is defined in many different ways. For one child, it’s getting to college on a full scholarship. For another, it’s making his way in the world on his own. For a few, like my teenage son, it’s functioning to the best of your abilities despite multiple disabilities.

So go ahead, read all the homeschooling books and magazines and surf homeschoolers’ blogs. Visit online homeschool forums. Glean as many great ideas as you think might work for your family. Discard those that turn out to be wrong for your family. And always keep in mind that there’s no one right way to homeschool. The beauty of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each family, each child, and each parent.

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©2009 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers

Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth children ages 16-26, a freelance writer/editor, and the author of “Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers, “The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling,”and “Homeschooling Your Teenagers.” You’ll find her on the Web at www.cardamompublishers.com and http://barbarafrankonline.com/

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