Some days the responsibility of home education barrels down on me like a freight train; the weight of it is almost unbearable and intolerable. I can’t breathe. I panic. I’m frozen with fear and anxiety.
What if my children don’t do as well as their counterparts in a brick and mortar school?
What if they grow up and don’t like having being home educated, even though they currently do?
What if they fall short of their dreams?
The what if syndrome arises. There’s no one else to blame for the children’s education should it falter or fail; only me. We can’t blame the teachers or the school system. Only us.
That’s a lot of responsibility. The complete education of our child is not a joint-venture between home and school for us; home is school.
These days of feeling such great responsibility are not pretty, I’ll admit. But thankfully they occur with such weight only every couple of months. But it is something I often think about, if only in passing, almost daily.
When reports in the news happen, these feelings can be brought to the forefront again; especially if I am silly enough to read some of the comments that the ‘general public’ write. I’m a bit of a news junkie, but there are times I wish I could just not know what was going on in the world and be oblivious.
How do I work through these days?
I focus on the positive.
What do the kids know?
We spend time together doing things we enjoy such as crafts or movies.
I remind myself that we spend extra time on subjects the kids want to learn about that may not even be taught in school such as aviation, cooking, writing real letters to friends around the world.
I try not to focus on what the schools are doing and what we see on Facebook and forums. Each child, family, and school is different and the vast majority of people post only positive achievements. Keeping up to what you see on social media is like keeping up with the Jones’ and it can’t be done.
I re-evaluate the subjects my children are working on and if they are really beneficial. I did this last week and decided I must change the math curriculum back to one we used to use. It’s the most expensive thing we’ll pay for this year, but by not having it we were doing our children a disservice. In this case, there wasn’t a good alternative. We also went through the cupboards and found many things that were no longer fit-for-purpose and there wasn’t a point in finishing them just to have them done. So we removed those items, giving us some peace as well as time now to start something that is a better fit.
When I feel like one of our children is behind I remember it’s okay go at their own pace; that’s one of the reasons home education rocks. We don’t have to move on to the next math unit until the current formulas are understood. We focus on mastery; really understanding and being able to complete questions. I have high standards based upon my children’s abilities and it’s not good enough for them to just rush through a subject and move on with only 40-50% retained knowledge. No, I aim for them to have at least 90% in most subjects. Of course, this may be different depending on the child and the subject. Not everyone excels at everything and this is also a good life lesson.
I remember that even if our children did ‘go to school’ the ultimate responsibility lies with us as their parents to ensure a good education. By home educating we have much more flexibility to do this.
We know what our children are learning, how they are learning it, and we can do our best to keep out distractions such as bullying or the stress of the whole class knowing if they are one of the ‘smart’ students or not, or whether they will get into ‘good’ school or a grammar school and the bearing that can have on their futures…all based upon one exam. Yes, we try not to have this great stress placed upon our children at this young age.
We have no constraints but the ones we place upon ourselves. No, we don’t have the funds we would like to and we cannot go on weekly field trips or go abroad on vacations to learn about other cultures. There are many things I would love to be able to do with and for our children.
We do the best we can with what we have and our children are flourishing. They are learning about real life and how to make do and take appreciate the opportunities they do have. Someone else will always do better at French, have a travelling caravan, or be able to run faster and climb higher without fear.
But that’s okay, it’s they way they are and we’re not them. We’re us. And we need to embrace our strengths and use them to our advantage and teach our children how to be thankful for what they have.
It’s not about what they don’t have or can’t do.
It’s all about what they know and what they can do. And what we can do to help our children work towards their goals in the way that is best for them using the resources we have.
And time with our children. One big reason many of us homeschool is so that we can spend time together as a family. Never forget that. It’s important.
Home education often isn’t easy or fun; but many times it can be. Remember your reasons for choosing to homeschool and why your children aren’t going ‘to school’ and you may already start to feel more calm. Sometimes just a simple change can make a big difference (like changing the day you do laundry – I’m serious), moving a schedule or routine around and writing in times to have fun together so your children know it’s important to have fun and family time, not just study time and chores.
And finally. Have a cup of hot tea (or your favourite go-to beverage), sit down and relax. Breathe. And remember, most things won’t be changed in a day, and almost no decision is final so take your time to highlight the positives and work on the things that stress you until you find the right balance for you and your children. You may find it’s an on-going process, but that’s life; always changing.
Do you have any tips on how to take the overwhelm out of home education? Please share them below!