Written by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy
This month, we’re beginning our sixth year of homeschooling.
We’re more or less ready to begin: we have our plan in place, our curriculum ordered, our daily rhythm mostly mapped out. We’re all ready to hit the ground running, kids and parents.
That’s because the big decisions are already made.
I’m serene about our school plans now, but a few months ago I was a mess, thinking so hard about all our mix and match options for the coming year you could practically see my angsty thoughts swirling above my head.
We’re fortunate to have a good number of viable options for our children’s education. I love exploring the possibilities for what their school experience could look like, thinking through different curricula, extracurriculars, structures, and schedules.
I enjoy dreaming about the possibilities: should we travel, or block schedule, or maybe look into that new classical school down the road? Should we do more German or switch to French or change math programs? Maybe we’ll try independent study for our older kids. Maybe we’ll let them choose their own curricula this year.
I love the possibilities homeschooling offers. But choosing between them stresses me out.
Because eventually, after considering all those possibilities, a choice has to be made. We have to commit to a course of action for the next year; we have to choose just one option that is best for our family as a whole, and for each of our four kids, individually.
And I’m terrified we’ll pick the wrong one.
When it’s big-picture planning time for our homeschool, suddenly something simple like choosing a curriculum becomes a springboard to an existential crisis. “Which foreign language?” becomes “What am I even doing with my life?” or worse, “I am messing up my kids’ education for all eternity!!”
(I didn’t say it was wise to freak out like this, or something I’m proud of. I’m just saying it happens.)
It’s August. My yearly existential homeschooling crisis is safely behind me, and I have the perspective to see it’s a little crazy, if completely predictable. For me.
I haven’t learned how to avoid it altogether, but I have learned how to deal.
My coping strategies aren’t fancy or brilliant. It comes down to two things:
1. Remind myself why we’re doing this in the first place.
We chose to homeschool for good reasons.
When I remember what they are, it reassures me we’re on the right path, and helps clarify those specific decisions regarding things like curriculum and schedules.
2. My job is to make the best decisions I can, with the information I have right now.
I don’t need to be a fortune teller, predict exactly how my kids/our schedule/our jobs/and everything else will change in the coming year.
I just need to decide for right now. And to remember that we’re taking this school journey one year at a time.
Am I the only one who does an annual big-picture freak out? I’d love to hear about your own existential crises in the comments.
This post is part of our Hardest Part of my Homeschool Year series.
Cheryl @ Sew Can Do
This is so me every year. This time around I’ve decided to just making things as they come. It’s the first year we’re not doing lots of materials from one place or focusing on a checklist of subjects to complete everyday. I’m actually excited about us enjoying and exploring new things this year instead of feeling anxious, overwhelmed and disorganized. You’re spot on about not trying to plan for what you predict “might” happen and just focus on right now.
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Glad to hear it—have a great school year!
A veteran homeschooler (one who’s children are now actively homeschooling their own children) once said to me, “This generation of homeschool parents have it so much harder than we did.” I thought that seemed a little strange, since the openness to homeschooling 40 years ago was almost non-existent. But, she went on to explain that all of the choices can be so overwhelming that it’s nearly impossible to make them. I think she is right and that with so many choices out there, many of us get caught up in thinking about what we are missing, instead of relaxing and enjoying every moment of this journey. Thanks for the post.
That makes sense—thanks for sharing.
Yes! I just went through my freak out and I’ve been homeschooling over 20 years! Something always triggers it and then boom, just as you say Anne, I’m
questioning my entire world! Choosing curriculum and classes for my youngest who’s a junior this year has been challenging. But once things all get started, I feel such a sense of relief and am reminded of why this homeschooling thing really is the best form of education! Thanks for the great reminder that our job is to make the best decisions we can with the information we have right now!!! And the get on with it. It really does all work out in the end!
“But once things all get started, I feel such a sense of relief and am reminded of why this homeschooling thing really is the best form of education!”
My youngest is a junior this year, too. I can’t believe we have been through 20 years of homeschool and it will all be changing in just 2 years. Trying to make sure the youngest gets his needs met as much as the oldest did.
There are so many choices! My problem is being perfectionistic. I fall in love with homeschool suggestions and try to push to get them done when maybe I need to ease up. I also I just question myself too much about homeschooling in general. I see all the cute kids go off to school in their new clothes and packs and assume I’m making mine miss out on something. It can take me a while to remember why we homeschool. Plus, things can look shiny on the surface and have some real drawbacks inside. Thanks for sharing!
Anne’s latest post: What’s missing from my list of books-read-in-2015
Wishing you well in the new school year!
“…things can look shiny on the surface and have some real drawbacks inside.”
Isn’t THAT the truth?! I’m okay with making decisions, but then I question them when I see the next shiny, new thing comes along. I have to constantly remind myself that everything has benefits and problems. Most of the time, I need to stay the course, not jump ship.
I’ll be homeschooling for the FIRST TIME EVER very soon (as well as moving our family internationally, again; and then moving internationally again in another year…..sigh) and my brain is about to self-combust from all the choices of curriculum out there! So yes, I totally relate to this post! 🙂
WOW! That’s a lot to take in. But what a cool experience for your family. Wishing you well in your big decisions and transitions.
Loved this. This is totally my homeschooling Achilles heel.
Nice to know I’m not alone.
Yeah, that’s totally me. We’ve been homeschooling about a year and a half, but I was so scared of doing something wrong and I was so overwhelmed that I was going to skip something important that we ended up not doing much at all. So this year, we are learning with a vengeance. lol I’m getting both of my kids’ stuff ready. I already have my third grader’s lessons and curriculum planned out for the year, I’m fixing to start working on my girl’s. She wants to learn to read and write. I enjoy planning everything and getting it all laid out, but man, figuring out what to use and then sticking to the plan are hard!
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Glad it’s not just me. Wishing you well!
Wow! This sure sounds like me! This is our fourth year and I’m only dealing with one eighth grader. We do year round, like a sabbath school schedule, and are on week eight. I’m finally relaxing, a little, with what I’ve chosen and weeded out. Everything always sounds so wonderful and I don’t want our daughter to “miss” out on something or be lacking and I tend to give her too much every year. The key words here are “weeded out”. I don’t need a stressed out kid. Busy is good. Challenged is good. Overwhelmed and stressed isn’t. The goal is to both enjoy the journey together. 🙂
Love your bottom-line goal—to enjoy the journey together.
We started 3 weeks ago and I am currently freaking out today because I feel like I can’t manage high school, Jr high, elementary, preschooler, toddler and medical appointments. I wish I were more prepared and organized.
That is a LOT to manage. 3 weeks is still pretty new: hoping September brings a rhythm to everyone’s days, and confidence to YOU.
Anne Marie G.
I’m laughing because I frequently see people complaining that their families (or legislators!) don’t think us moms are qualified to take our child’s education seriously enough … yet it’s evident by your post (which voices the concerns most of us have) that we probably put just as much if not more time and work into choosing the direction of our child’s education as well as the preparation and implementation than traditional school teachers. We don’t have the advantage of working with 5 other teachers in our grade. We don’t have a school system telling us to limit our curriculum choices to one or two publishers. We don’t have the red-tape to jump through to plan a field trip for the entire fifth grade class of 200 kids. We have it much, much worse … we have nearly-unlimited resources and opportunities to teach our children, which makes the decision-making all the tougher! To answer your question, I too spent weeks reading and planning and agonizing over making the right choices. Even though I had already purchased a primary curriculum that covered many subjects, the perfectionist in me felt it just “wasn’t good enough” on it’s own so I spent hours reading and tweaking to incorporate side topics that I thought were essential for forming a well-rounded curriculum that would foster deeper thinking. I’ll probably tweak it some more, but I’m finally more comfortable about the direction we’re going.
The paradox of choice, for sure. 🙂
I spent 5 years freaking out about homeschooling. And then when the time for us to make the decision I was cool as a cucumber. That was last year and my oldest was already reading on a second grade level. My second child just began “official” homeschooling and I’m TOTALLY FREAKING OUT. He’s totally different than my oldest and I can’t just use the same curriculum and techniques. And I’m also worried I’m ruining his education by making him hate learning to read.
I went to the library today and checked out ALL of the books on homeschool and teaching the 3R’s. I’m hoping to hit gold.
Katie Laws’s latest post: Field Trips?
Wishing you well as you decide.
I am in full-force freakout mode. We have a 6-year-old, 4-year-old, and 5-month-old, and are planning to move out-of-state in 6 weeks. My desk is currently surrounded by boxes. My kids would throw a sheet over it and make it into a fort if I let them. I haven’t even officially picked our curriculum, though I THINK I know what direction will be best for us. I am still discouraged from the tooth-pull that was last year’s curriculum choice. I felt like the Worksheet Dictator of the Universe. I ended up “paying” them in sweets (think a Smartie or M&M per worksheet) to motivate them to finish their work. So I guess that wouldn’t make me the Dictator; more like a lame version of Santa Claus. Anyway– prayers! As my 4-year-old boy would say in response to something I didn’t know the answer to: “God knows!”
Off to do more research…
The Worksheet Dictator of the Universe—ha! (I wouldn’t want that job, either. 🙂 )
When we moved last year I was grateful that homeschooling gave us the flexibility to take a week (or honestly, it was probably two) off so we could deal with LIFE. Wishing you well in your big transition and decision making!
I can so relate! I get overwhelmed easily by all the options and choices.
Shirley’s latest post: Homeschooling Means… #13
I go through the same “existential homeschool crisis” but thankfully for me, it is separated in time from the back to school rush. My husband and I take an annual trip to the GHC where we pre-research our options (the favorite ones, not every single one because wow, there’s so many) and then pray our way through to the end. We set a deadline on this trip to have chosen the main vision for our next school year during the convention (which happens to be in the spring for us each year).
That way I can calmly and slowly prepare at my leisure all summer long for what the fall will bring. It’s also been beneficial for us to make our choices at this time because the past year’s successes, failures, strengths, and weaknesses are fresh. We are almost to the finish line for the year.
For me, a very slow processor, this set up is priceless. The long car ride there and back also helps to settle and diffuse my panic and allows for same-paging with my husband. I love to hear his heart for our home school. It’s important to me that he have an equal say in the direction we as a family set our sights on.
Blessings to you and your new year of education Anne!
Cara@TheHomeLearner’s latest post: Maybe You Are Cut Out for It (Consider Home Education).
It does happen, five years in and I am hopefully on the tail end of crisis mode for the first time. Homeschooling my four kiddos, 9, 7, 5 and 4.