Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
Often I take a look in Google Analytics to see what brings people to Simple Homeschool. Many readers arrive after an online search, on the hunt for information about a certain topic. Common searches that bring readers here include simple homeschooling, homeschool encouragement blog, waldorf homeschooling, and making the first homeschool day special.
But my heart dropped a little when I read that a few people found this blog after typing in “want to homeschool, but don’t want the responsibility.”
Fear of responsibility on the homeschooling path isn’t uncommon. After all, so our thoughts tease, if we send the kids to school and things aren’t going well, there’s someone else to blame. But if we grasp this calling fully by the reins, we know in whose direction fingers will point if results aren’t in line with the norm.
Even typing that makes me anxious, so I know that for others just starting out, the feelings come with even more intensity.
Homeschooling isn’t for cowards, you know.
There’s no magic formula for anything in life, including home education. But here are a few thoughts to remember when you get frightened by the enormity of the task ahead.
1. Just take responsibility for loving your child–today.
Childhood experts generally agree that parents are the ones who know what is best for their toddlers–little ones need love and security above all else. That need doesn’t change just because a child turns five.
The foundation for a strong learning experience is relationship. That’s why so many children don’t get the education they deserve–relationships, in the classroom or at home, are in turmoil.
Most people feel confident that they can love their child, but question whether they can educate their child.
In reality, they are one and the same.
Thinking about all the years from age four to high school graduation is enough to make any mom swoon. That’s why I only ask myself what I should do today.
So don’t research a physics curriculum if your child is seven. The future only offers fear. Start with today’s responsibility–it’s simple.
2. Question the system.
Most of those reading this post grew up within the traditional school system. As such, we’ve accepted certain beliefs about education that may not even be true–beliefs we never were encouraged to question.
Some of the things we may believe:
- “Experts” are required to teach children.
- I’m not qualified to do this.
- I haven’t learned something until “they” agree that I have.
- School has to be boring.
- There are just certain things that must be learned, whether you like it or not.
- This (curriculum, style, philosophy, etc.) is just the way education is.
The educational blueprint that is standard today did not even exist two hundred years ago. What is now the norm wasn’t always.
This doesn’t mean that the system is always the enemy, never has successes, or never does anything positive. It just means that it isn’t the only way. Learning doesn’t have to be this complicated. For those just beginning to question the system, I highly recommend the book Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto.
Photo by Rebecca Wilson
3. Your children’s education is your responsibility no matter where they go to school.
Homeschooling is absolutely not right for every family, in every situation, every year. But your child’s education most certainly is your responsibility every moment of every day–no matter where she studies.
This was impressed on me when I first began learning about British educational reformer Charlotte Mason. She took issue not only with poor parents who sent their children to work too early, but also with rich families who hired governesses and then considered their job “done.”
Mason rightly believed that the goal of education was not to merely fill a child’s mind with certain facts. I found myself giving her an internal standing ovation as I read these words:
“The question is not, –how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education–but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”
4. Accept (& even embrace) that there will be gaps.
Was your education perfect?
Nope, mine either. Though most of us graduated from traditional schools without knowing all, many homeschooling parents deeply fear that they won’t be able to cover everything.
Let me put it to you straight – you won’t.
Are we trying to raise intelligent robots–or children who discover their passions and purposes in life? In spite of No Child Left Behind, children are being left behind in vast numbers each and every day.
Your responsibility, Mom and Dad, is not to produce perfection.
Your responsibility, as a homeschooling parent, is simply this: to nurture, love, forgive, believe, pray for patience, deliver grace, spread the feast, feel the fear, act in courage, get up tomorrow, and do it again.
How have you been able to embrace the responsibility of taking on your children’s education?