We have expectations. We have all the control. We expect the results. We have been told that homeschooling will give us amazing results. Our children will love learning. They will be miles ahead of their peers. They will seek the answers to all their questions.
But what if they don’t? What then? What if your child doesn’t fit into the “homeschooling mold” that is reiterated over and over again? We homeschoolers have worked so hard at creating independence and freedom, yet we still have created a box into which homeschooling children are supposed to fit.
I find that the world examines our homeschools more critically than other means of education. This puts tremendous pressure on us moms to have the perfect child. Strangers quiz our children in the grocery line. Grandparents ask the kids questions to make sure that you are doing your job. We already carry the burden of doubt. “Am I doing enough?”
So what happens when your child doesn’t enjoy reading? What does it mean that your child doesn’t want to go to college? What does it mean when your child is only performing at the mean on standardized tests? Are you doing something wrong?
I struggle with these types of questions all the time. They riddle me with self-doubt. If I do not have the answer that I am looking for, what am I doing wrong? I believed the lie that if I homeschool my child, then everything will be peachy keen. I was never going to struggle with teenage rebellion (because homeschool!). My children would read happily in their free time (because homeschool). We would never have any disagreements between siblings because they would be best friends (because homeschool).
The funny thing is that we homeschoolers understand the uniqueness of each child. That is why many of us homeschool. We understand that children learn differently and are their own individual creatures. But then we throw that out the window and expect them to perform the way we want them to perform. When they don’t, we are surprised.
What am I doing wrong? Is it the curriculum? We switch math programs 3 times in 4 years. There are tears. Ours and our children’s. We just need to find the way that they learn! That is what all the books tell us. Maybe it is us? Are we too hard or too easy? We don’t know what it is, but we know it is something, because things are not turning out the way they are supposed to turn out. We panic. We search homeschool message boards which just leads to more anxiety. We have read the magazines and the books. We know what homeschooling is supposed to do for our child. Right?
We need to remember that the internet is very good at showing us what it wants us to see. Lee Binz is only going to put up the articles that show the kids getting the big scholarships. She wants to sell books after all. Homeschooling magazines are going to sell you the information that you think that you need to hear. They want to sell magazines. If they don’t have some new, great idea, what will they have left to tell you?
We also have to remember that we are talking about our children not about our robots. They aren’t going to perform the way we always want them to perform. And that is Ok! They are imperfect individuals that are going to make mistakes as they grow up especially when they hit their teen years.
When we hit bumps in the road, maybe we need to ask different questions. How can I help my child become successful within their own capabilities and interests? Let’s face it. Not every child is going to be a math whiz. And that is Ok. Not every child is going to love reading. And that is OK. Not every child is going to know what they want to do when they are 17 years old. And that is OK.
We need to stop thinking that homeschooling is a magic bullet that is going to protect our children from every failure or bad decision and that it is the only way to make them successful. This probably isn’t going to be a popular thing to say, but I am going to say it anyway. I think that the kids that are held up in front of us as homeschooling success stories would have been successful regardless of where they went to school. Some kids just have it, and by it, I mean that drive. Some kids are incredibly driven. I have seen them in the public schools, in the private schools, and in homeschools. We need to quit believing that these kinds of kids only thrive in homeschools, or even better, that homeschooling will make our kids this way. It doesn’t always happen. It doesn’t mean that you failed, or your kids failed. I am here to tell you to stop beating yourself up. Because believe me, if you are going to beat yourself up every time your child does something wrong or doesn’t meet the expectation that you placed on him, you are in for a lot of bruises.
Instead, I would like to encourage you to look at your child as the beautiful individual that he or she is. What do they love? What makes them tick? Remember that you are not their path to success, but only their guiding light. Encourage them, love them, and discipline them. Homeschooling is hard, rewarding work. There will be bumps in the road, but it is OK. I promise it will be OK.
Focus on building a relationship with your child. That way when they do hit the bumps in the road, they will come to you. Homeschooling provides a wonderful opportunity to build that relationship. Some days will be great, and some days will be not so great. It is not a race. It is a journey. Enjoy the scenery.