We’re in our third year of homeschooling and each one has offered its own challenges. But I have to admit that in the earlier part of this year, when certain areas of my son’s learning felt mired in frustration for both of us–writing and spelling, especially–I felt myself giving in to the demons of self-doubt that nag so many of we homeschooling parents; namely, ‘Am I doing this right?’ coupled with ‘Should we be doing this at all?’
No matter how my husband and I look at it, we know that homeschooling is the best for our child and we’re undeniably glad we started in the second grade. We wish we had started sooner. The conventional classroom is my child’s kryptonite, requiring more sitting still and undivided attention than he can deliver. School is fraught with demoralizing landmines for him, countless opportunities for teachers, administrators and other students to single him out for “doing it wrong.” But though we would never choose to put him back there, it’s hard not to wonder some days (if you give in to it), when homeschooling isn’t the peaceful, fun and clearly rewarding activity you hoped for, whether it’s hard because you’re doing it wrong or because it’s not the best fit for your kid.
There have been some especially tough stretches where I couldn’t help but dismally consider whether my son couldn’t not learn just as well in the fractured, dysfunctional environment of our local school, where at least he’d get to be with a lot of other kids, and some other teacher could bear the burden. Could that mythical teacher reach him better?
Don’t listen to those voices. After a week of serious soul-searching, reading and interacting with a lot of other homeschool families, I don’t believe I ever will listen again. It’s this week that I finally digested the fact that there isn’t any clear sailing, in school or out, when it comes to getting your child an education. If your school experience could be or was anything like ours, you already know that no other teacher would, nor perhaps should be asked to take the time and give the support to your child that you do. And if you’ve had the public school teachers that we have, you know that you are far more qualified than many of those that have taught hundreds of students and demoralized a good portion of them or at least practiced diligent neglect. I don’t mean to paint all school teachers, many of whom are excellent, with the same brush. And for many conventional learners and children who seems to thrive educationally in a variety of settings, regular school is fine.
But especially if your kid is a different learner, or if you simply feel strongly about the benefits of learning at home, be confident that what you provide your child at home is far above what would be given in school, even on days that don’t seem that way. Because even on the days where you feel like nothing constructive is happening, it is.
This week I had my grand epiphany that homeschooling can just be hard. I would say simply “it is hard”, but I can’t speak for anyone else. And one of the biggest challenges is to keep the doubt at bay. When you buck a convention as pervasive as putting your kid in school, even while supported by other homeschoolers and a host of resources, you’re going to have occasional confidence issues. That’s okay. Every truly worthwhile activity requires that you question yourself, if not constantly, than at least occasionally. Hang in there. You’ve made a bold, creative choice. Probably it’s one that has impacted your family financially and socially. Definitely, it’s raised your required skill set as a parent. But if you’re a homeschooling parent reading about it and wanting to share the experience of others doing it, you’re doing fine. Just remember, it will be hard, and that’s okay. One day, it’ll get easier and then your child will be out in the world. Job done…at least that part of it!