Written by Kara S. Anderson
A note from Jamie: In the midst of all the uncertainty surrounding us, friends, Kara’s post and her new book, More Than Enough: Grow Your Confidence, Banish Burnout and Love Your Homeschool Life, are even more needed to encourage us when life gets tough–enjoy!
Something hard happened a few weeks ago.
We went to a new doctor, who got very hung up on homeschooling.
Instead of focusing on health questions, he asked a lot of school questions:
“Can you type?”
“Do you take classes online?”
“What are your college plans?”
And the zinger – “Are you at grade level in all of your subjects?”
We left feeling frustrated because it seemed like homeschooling had become a distraction to what brought us there in the first place.
Only later did some other feelings creep in for me.
Doubt. Fear. Worry.
And an old friend showed up. I call her the Worry Elephant. She sits on my chest at midnight and whispers. I hear that I can’t do this. That I’m messing up. That I’m not enough.
Traditional school is not a guarantee
So here’s the thing: We are still doing something fairly unproven. Although “homeschooling” was the way people learned long ago, once schools popped up everywhere, they became the standard, and then the “normal.”
I doubt that doc would have asked any of those questions if my child went to public school.
Because our culture sees public school as some kind of guarantee.
Of course schools will do a good job. Of course they’ll keep our kids at grade level.
But public school can’t actually guarantee anything.
Kids still get Ds. They fall behind. They fail. They drop-out.
They may skate by without learning certain concepts because with one teacher to 25 or 30 kids, not everyone is getting enough attention to know if they truly understand lowest common multiples.
So that kid gets an F on the fractions test, but is moved along to the next concept anyway.
A lot to carry
Meanwhile, homeschoolers get the side-eye because we’re weird, right?
We’ve chosen this crazy alternative. And even though colleges like Harvard are opening their doors for homeschooled kids, homeschooling really only re-emerged a generation ago.
And in one generation it’s changed exponentially through technology.
So it shouldn’t be our job to prove anything to the world at large, but unfortunately, we’re sort of carrying that weight. You know, on top of the weight of responsibility of educating our children.
Shaking off the doubt
So of course doubt creeps in. Because we want to do this well. None of us is okay with failure when it comes to our kids’ futures.
So when the doctor started questioning my child, a lot of old fears resurfaced.
I felt shaken and gut-punched.
I have a child approaching graduation, and there are a lot of big “tests” on the horizon – the SAT, college admission …
It’s already a scary time, and then that doctor preyed on some of our biggest fears.
So how am I moving past those worries and refocusing?
Well luckily, that’s something I have a lot of experience with:
- First, I look at my kids. Are they learning? Yes. Are they learning what their public school counterparts are learning? Sheesh – probably not. Right now they are doing deep dives into politics and creating music and engrossed in chemistry and forensics and otherwise being amazing.
I mean yes – we’re building a transcript and covering requirements, but it’s not always neat and tidy.
- Next, I remember why we homeschool in the first place. Oh my goodness – it’s because my kids are unique and quirky and fascinating and I didn’t want them squished into a system.
- Then I focus on what homeschooling has given us – the kind of relationship I wanted with my kids. We are a team.
- Finally, I remember that we are doing something against the norm, and that takes a ton of courage. It’s hard to be brave all the time, so it’s okay to feel shaken. But courage is not the absence of fear – it’s being scared, but continuing on in spite of that fear.
A bit more about doubt
Finally, there will be so many times in homeschooling that we doubt ourselves.
We will question again and again if we are equipped to do this – if we are enough.
First, it doesn’t matter what the doubters say – they lack imagination.
Second, no one loves your child more or is more invested in his or her future than you.
Third, I’ve started to make friends with my Worry Elephant. Because I’ve realized that all those night when I thought she was just trying to freak me out, she was actually reminding me of something vital:
We worry because we love our kids so much.
So we will not fail them.
That intense fear we feel can only be that intense because of our boundless love for our kids.
So will this journey be perfect? Probably not. Will it look like the traditional school journey? Absolutely not.
But that’s OK.
It doesn’t need to.
It never did.
If this post speaks to you, check out my brand new book More Than Enough: Grow Your Confidence, Banish Burnout and Love Your Homeschool Life, available here.
You may also enjoy the audio companion, featuring Simple Homeschool editor Jamie Martin, Pam Barnhill, and Sarah Mackenzie! I hope it is a comfort to your homeschooling mama’s heart.
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!