Homeschooling advice: Calming the first year fears, from a mother who has been there.
What am I doing?
I asked myself, that question on that first morning after the decision was final. We (or rather I) were going to homeschool our children. No one was holding a gun to my head, was I making my life harder than it had to be. Why had I chosen to home school your children, and what would they lose by staying home?”
Looking back to when I was pregnant with our son and first child, my husband suggested we try homeschooling, as we had already agreed that I would stay home and not use childcare. “Why not keep going?” he asked. What I said to him in response cannot be repeated in mixed company. I felt homeschooling would make me a prisoner to my children, and it was not in the original deal when we decided to have kids. No way. By the time they where old enough for preschool, you had better believe they would be enrolled. Staying home until then would fulfill my duties as a mother, by getting them started on the right foot. After that, my only responsibility would be to pick the best schools we could afford and to help with homework.
That is all different now. After living in several states, and attending several schools in many different school systems, both private and public, it was painfully clear school was not working for our children. Our first child could obviously advance quickly if given the opportunity, and the other we were told needed to be tested for ADHD and medicated. The schools could not provide what either child needed- one on one attention. I could see that clearly, finally. So I braved all the “I told-you-so’s” from my husband and together we made the decision for me to cut back on my outside responsibilities and activities to homeschool our children.
So when that “What am I doing”, panic attack sets in, remember the circumstances that brought you to your decision in the first place.
What about them?
Thoughts continually flooded my head trying to convince me my kids would be better off in school with trained teachers and kids their own age. After all, I am impatient, un-organized, and needy. Couldn’t a trained teacher give them more than I have to offer? Will I be able to teach them as much as they could learn in school? Am I destroying their future? What could I possibly have to offer these children that a school cannot?
Then I looked at their faces and remembered how happy they were when they realized they would not be going back. What about them, I asked myself again. Can I put my impatience and neediness aside? Couldn’t organization be learned? If I couldn’t teach something, could I get help? Yes, I could… and so can you.
What about socialization?
Will they become lonely from spending less time with kids their age? Will they become sullen, withdrawn and shy? Will they become super-nerds, yet find themselves unable to carry on a normal conversation? How will they learn how to interact with people their own age?
Duh! Not going to school does not have to mean not spending time with other kids. Looking back now, those fears are completely laughable. I now have to ask how to get my kids to socialize less.
Am I capable of doing this?
Personal history has shown that lack of patience is my biggest fault. How am I going to react when they do not feel like cooperating? What am I going to say when they have asked one too many questions on any given day? Am I going to be the one to have a tantrum when they do not understand?
My lack of organization would scare away even the very best Professional Organizer. Will I be able to remain organized enough to ensure my kids learn everything they should know. Will I leave big holes in their education because I forgot, or missed something? Will projects started with the best of intentions ever get completed?
My children will be witness to nearly everything I do and say in the course of a day. If I am going to mold them into the people I want them to become, I am going to have to make some serious changes to who I am. Can I do this?
Whether or not I am or was capable of homeschooling my kids was beyond the point. Three years later and I can rest knowing I dealt with it all well. I actually became organized enough to teach my kids to be organized. Lots of review and using different curriculum sources eliminated educational holes. Also, with kids watching, it is amazing how quickly you will clean up your act. I did it, and so can you.
What about my needs?
My business will have to become secondary at best. How could such sacrifices be good for my children? Will I become unhappy, and take my frustrations out on them? How will I handle the loss of private time, and privacy? I have finally gotten to a point in my career as an artist where I am comfortable with my talent and myself. I am enjoying the spare time that being my own boss affords. I have worked so hard for this. Must I really put this off for other 10 or more years?
Yes, and no. I have had to cut back on painting children’s bedrooms, but I have had time to paint from my own inspiration and to develop as an artist. I have learned to balance my needs for the short term to have healthy happy children in the end.
Am I afraid?
I had better be! I am now completely responsible for my children’s upbringing. I have no one to blame but myself if things go wrong. I have always been completely responsible, but I am now accepting that responsibility.
I now know that my worries are no more than just doubts. Now when I awake I say to myself, “I am creating people with strong self esteem that will be better able to deal with the real world. I am helping my children grow into productive adults, instead of them learning to act like children, from children. In a world where there is an epidemic of young people not ‘making it’ I have chosen to change the odds for my kids – one day at a time.” Those words always make me feel better!
There is so much more to homeschooling than that, of course, but my daily mental exercise helps me to experience the difficulties of homeschooling without losing my stride. No, I am not a saint. I am your typical mom, a woman with talents and ambitions who could just as easily be out in the world concentrating on a career and trusting the system to educate my kids. But since I have seen with my own eyes that the system was not working, I figured that though I did not know if I could do any better, I knew I could do it differently at the very least.