Homeschooling is hard. It shouldn’t be. Homeschooling should be important, it should be a priority, it should be a dedication, it should be a mission.
Homeschooling should be easy. Not hard–easy.
I complicate matters the more I do them. I start something, get going, and then once I get it figured out, I say, “Hey, we could super-awesomize this entire process! Let’s see how super-awesome-stupendous we could make this if we try harder…and harder…and harder…”
And I keep going until I burn myself out. I’ve done it with baking (I don’t bake any more), I’ve done it with work (until my family begged me to stop), I’ve done it with housecleaning (one brutal, lonely year in which every surface shined and I had no social life).
And I’ve done it several times with homeschooling.
Then suddenly, I wake up one day so exhausted before my head lifts from the pillow, my first thought a swirl of “oh, no, did my son finish that project?” and “oh, no, did my daughter memorize all 50 vocabulary words?” and “oh, no, we have three out-of-the-house activities today, so when will I give them the four exams?” and “oh, no, I forgot to schedule coffee time!”
Oh, no, I can’t live like that. My children can’t thrive like that. My family can’t survive like that.
Have you ever woken up mid-way through the school year feeling the same way? It doesn’t exactly foster warm, fuzzy homeschool feelings, does it? How did it happen? Well, here’s some ways we can inadvertently make things much more difficult than we should.
Why We Make Homeschooling Hard
1. We are just following directions.
In the first year or two of homeschooling, we aren’t completely sure what we are doing. And again, every time our oldest child moves into a new stage (hello, high school! HELP!), we face such fear of failure. So we fall back on the experts, whoever they may be–curriculum developers, homeschool celebrities, magazine columnists, convention speakers. We do what they say to do, adding their routines, schedules, products, and methods on top of our family’s individual culture.
2. We replicate our own difficult education.
Most of us can’t say that our own school years were a piece of cake, right? Don’t you remember all the memory work and research papers and piles of homework and fact sheets and diagramming and 10-page tests? We were scarred for life! Then we think, mistakenly, that is what education is. So we pass the burden on to our own children by default. It’s all we know.
3. We want to keep up with our homeschool friends.
Kate is teaching her children Latin at five years old. Susan has daily science projects. Diane does lapbooks, Jen has morning copywork, and Patty’s children always win the spelling bee. If we don’t participate in all or most of those, even the homeschoolers are going to wonder what we do all day!
4. Lesson plans are complicated.
There’s curriculum guides, and lesson plans, and teacher answer keys, and test packets, and student workbook packets on top of the textbooks. That’s not to mention the supplementary reading lists, map packets, downloadables, projects, and unit studies. We literally don’t know which book to open to start learning every morning; I’m probably looking at the wrong one.
5. Academics are intimidating.
In light of #4 above, it’s clear that education is only for the trained professional. We just about need a master’s degree to figure out what components to order, and then we need a doctorate to figure out how the parts work together! We did not, most of us, take eight years of advanced learning because, after all, we can multiply two-digit numbers with a pencil and paper. Lo, and behold, calculus is a prerequisite for putting together a lesson plan.
6. We are being sold a lot of goods.
The homeschool industry is growing rapidly. So book publishers, curriculum developers, and t-shirt companies are all saying “Ca-CHING!” and sending us flyers and catalogs and facebook sponsored posts and emails insisting that we only need their one book (or series, or system, or library, or school) to ensure our student’s success. And even though we know that in the back of our heads, we still wonder…could this be the one thing my student really, truly needs?
7. We really, really don’t want to mess up.
This is our own children, after all. A lot is at stake. And the older they get, the more learning difficulties are uncovered, the more possibilities open up, the closer we get to graduation, the more children we have…the pressure only mounts.
Heavens, homeschooling gets hard really fast.
That’s why, dear friend, it’s important to regularly take a step back, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves is this really necessary? Are there ways we can make this easier?
Am I teaching my students the way I teach best and for the way they learn best?
Am I confident to do what is right for my unique family?
That is how we make homeschooling easy. It isn’t a one-time decision. It’s a constant battle to clear the clutter and reclaim the joy of learning.
You can do it. Just take it easy.
I’d love to keep in touch!
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