The following is a guest post written by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez of Truly Rich and Blessed.
When my husband and I first started exploring the idea of homeschooling, we had only one child. He was around three years old then. Our family was based in East Timor, or Timor Leste, at the time, and we didn’t know anyone in our social circles who homeschooled.
The only information I could get about it was online (during the limited time I had Internet access every day). I’d spend this time Googling for homeschool preschool resources and saving the information and worksheets and whatnot I’d find so I could browse through everything later on.
It was exciting and daunting at the same time, but I believed that homeschooling our son was the best decision for us.
Fast forward to the present time. We have three kids now and, at the time of this writing, our eldest is turning seven soon. Our second is four and our youngest is almost five months old. We’ve been back in Manila for three years.
We’re still a homeschooling family but have dealt with lots of challenges and doubts along the road–one of the biggest of which I call “comparisonitis.”
It’s a “sickness” that I often find myself afflicted with — comparing myself or my kids, or our homeschooling methods, curricula and ways, or my kids’ milestones and achievements (the list can go on and on!), with others.
“Her kid started reading at 3, and mine only did so at 6! They have such a complete and organized homeschool room — we only do school in bed! Their kids enrolled in a brick and mortar school, but have better manners and better life skills than our son!”
And so on and so forth.
Photo by RageZ
It can be a debilitating illness for sure.
So how do I deal with it? And how can you overcome it, too, if and when you need to?
Here’s what works for me:
1. Focus on what you have and be grateful for the life you’re living now.
Stop looking at “the other side of the fence” all the time and fix your eyes on the treasures you have in your own home – starting with your children. Be especially thankful that you have the privilege of homeschooling them (even if on some days it feels like more of a burden than a blessing).
2. Acknowledge the fact that every person is unique and develops differently.
At a local homeschool conference I attended a few years ago, veteran homeschooler and author Debra Bell said something I will never forget: Each child is wired differently by God to learn at his or her own pace.
Just as kids of the same age differ in their physical development (height, weight, etc.) so, too, do they differ in their educational development.
Photo by Pratham Books
Just because your kid learns to read at 10 years old it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s “delayed.” Breathe in, breathe out, momma. She’ll learn her letters and numbers eventually, even if other kids her age are already reading four-word sentences and doing simple addition.
Education is not a race, and neither is childhood.
3. Do the best you can and on the days when you can’t, just keep on keeping on.
There will always be good and bad days, and everyone — yes, even the seemingly picture-perfect, Pinterest-worthy, super organized, makes-learning-look-fun-and-easy-all-the-time-complete-with-crafts homeschoolers (and non-homeschoolers) — has them.
You’re doing the best you can, and God knows you have your kids’ best interests at heart. So don’t give up. Don’t give in to your doubts and fears and feelings of not measuring up.
At the end of the day, I’ve found that the best “cure” for “comparisonitis” is a healthy dose of acceptance, a pill (or more) of patience with yourself and your children, and heaping amounts of chicken soup for your soul — made up of love, gratefulness and perseverance.
Remind me about this when I come down with comparisonitis again, OK?
Have you ever been afflicted with comparisonitis? How did/do you deal with it?