Am I doing enough in our homeschool?
Written by Shawna Wingert of Different by Design Learning
After ten years of homeschooling, there is one thing I know to be true.
I am most likely to doubt, question and fear my own ability as a homeschool mom in the middle of the night.
Last night was no exception.
Having some trouble getting back to sleep, I began to go through the previous day in my head.
My son’s resistance to writing.
The video we watched on YouTube instead of doing the actual history assignment.
The to-do list left undone at the end of the day.
As I tossed and turned, one familiar question haunted me.
Would you rather listen to this post?
Am I doing enough for these children?
I know I am not alone in asking this, nor is this a new question. Over the past decade, I know I have asked it hundreds, if not thousands of times.
It’s a question that comes up at every homeschool get-together and in every homeschool mom Facebook group.
We carefully ask other moms what they think. We worry they don’t really understand our realities when they tell us we are doing well and it will be okay.
We wonder, when we hear about a new curriculum or book list.
We whisper it to ourselves on the days when things don’t go as planned.
Am I doing enough?
One of the most challenging aspects of being a homeschool mom, for me, is feeling like I never really know how well I am doing.
At all my other jobs, I had a boss. I had performance appraisals. I had a sense of what right looked like and how well I was doing.
Homeschooling gives us none of that.
And yet, the longer I educate my own children, the more I am finding ways to answer this question, when it rears its ugly head.
Am I doing enough in our homeschool?
If you struggle with this same sense of not knowing, I want to encourage you today that you are not alone.
In fact, I have never met a homeschool mom who didn’t wonder, at least sometimes, if her efforts would be enough to successfully educate her children.
When this question creeps up, this is what helps me most.
Stop Asking, “Does this count?”
It is so easy to feel like I am not doing enough in our homeschool when I am concerned about what “counts” as learning and what doesn’t.
For example, it’s easy to feel like my son taking a quiz or completing a worksheet “counts,” because it looks more like the public school model that so many of us grew up in.
But what about the Batman graphic novel he was obsessed with all day, or the Geography Now YouTube video we watched, with its tongue in cheek look at what defines the 50 states? Do these count?
While I am still prone to worry, I have learned that if I am asking if something counts, it usually does.
Learning is an element of almost everything we do, in life and in homeschool. It’s easy to see it when I take a step back and really think about the skills my children are practicing.
The graphic novel allowed him to practice reading and think about story. The video sparked an interesting conversation about northern states and political divides.
I could go on and on, but essentially, instead of asking if something counts as learning, I ask, “What did my children learn from this activity?”
Establish a daily minimum.
This has evolved considerably over the past few years, but it is genuinely making a difference in our homeschool.
At the beginning of the school year, I define what I think are the most important things we need to accomplish everyday (and not just academically). This list of no more than five things becomes my minimum expectation for our days.
Below is my “even if nothing else happens, I will consider this enough” daily list for this year for my youngest son.
- Audiobook and read to mom
- Sensory activity or rock climbing
- CTC Math – one 5 minute lesson
- Current events discussion
- One item from weekly list
In addition to our daily plan, I create a weekly list of ideas and activities to add to the above. We only add an item from the weekly list if we are in a good place and able to take on more (which, if I’m honest, is about 50% of the days).
Here is a picture of my plans for last week.
The daily list of requirements helps me start the day with a sense of things being doable from the start, instead of behind before we even get started.
Most important, it feels like enough.
Accept that resistance will come.
It is really, really hard to not take my sons’ resistance to learning personally, especially when I have worked hard to prepare an activity or define our plans for the day. Their resistance often triggers guilt and leads to be me being up in the middle of the night asking if I am doing enough.
But the truth is that resistance and not wanting to do something that is required of us is a part of learning. It is a part of homeschooling.
Accepting this reality helps me feel like what we are accomplishing, even in the midst of some resistance, matters.
Know that it all adds up.
I have to remind myself of this over and over again, but I know it to be true.
After all these years, I can see that all the small decisions, the seemingly unfocused afternoons, the audiobooks listened to in the car, the visits to the zoo, the conversations over the dinner table, the rock climbing lessons and yes, the worksheets and math lessons done on the computer – it all adds up.
It all adds up to a well-rounded and effective education.
It adds up to more than enough.
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