Am I Doing Enough? Homeschooling Worries

Find answers to your homeschooling worries and reassurance that your children’s education is not at risk.



Am I doing the right thing by keeping my child at home?

Am I doing enough?

Am I …?

These are the questions with which we bombard ourselves, especially as new homeschooling moms, but even as veterans with almost 20 years of homeschooling experience!

It’s not a bad thing.

Evaluating our homeschool progress is normal.

It is the natural process of self-evaluation that a caring and responsible parent keeps going through.

As parents we are responsible and accountable for our children’s education and we should do everything we can to raise them to be wholly healthy and confident individuals – spiritually, emotionally and physically.

But unfortunately, we check up on ourselves with these “Am I…?” questions so often that it becomes torture which can sometimes undermine a parent’s self-confidence.

As a generation of parents who have been raised in the school system it is extremely hard to rid ourselves of that school mindset…and particularly in the beginning of our homeschooling journey when we feel so insecure. We imagine that the System gives us a benchmark that we can use to compare our ‘progress’…so in a sea of insecurity, its not uncommon to keep referring back to the System we know, while we venture into the Unknown of Home Education!

45. forestComparing your homeschooling with the school system is counter-productive. You are not in that system.

 

You are giving your children a customised education.

 

You are neither behind nor ahead because you are not on the same path!

Comparing with other homeschooling families is also unhealthy as you never really see their struggles.

“Everyone thinks it goes smoothly in everyone else’s house, and theirs is the only place that has problems. I’ll let you in on a secret about teaching: there is no place in the world where it rolls along smoothly without problems. Only in articles and books can that happen.” ~ Ruth Beechick

 

If you are asking those “Am I…? Are we…” questions, then let me tell you, “YES you are doing enough.” You are not a welfare case who would be found guilty of neglecting your children.

Your questioning is proof that you have your children’s best interests at heart.

Gabby and Meghan 042No one in the world cares as much about your children as you!

“The assumption seems to be that by educating our children at home and letting them pursue their own interests, we are limiting their choices and perhaps even depriving them. The only honest answer is, Of course we are. But then, that’s true of every choice a parent makes: no matter what we choose for our children, we are by default not choosing something else.”  ~  Ben Hewitt

In all the years that I’ve been homeschooling, I’ve never yet encountered a parent online or offline who WASN’T doing enough. Being the diligent, caring and responsible parents that homeschoolers generally are, they all tend to over-plan and try to do too much to teach their children, rather than the opposite.

Lets change some of those questions, to get you to think in new ways:

Am I trusting my children enough to take the initiative in their own education – or am I dictating the content and time frame for their learning?

 “Each of us is born with a crazy passion to learn. Each of us craves knowledge of our world and our place within it. We learn because we want to learn, because it’s important to us, because it’s natural, and because it’s impossible to live in the world and not learn. Then along comes school to mess up a beautiful thing.” ~ PS Pirro

Am I consulting my children when I pick and choose subjects, topics and materials to learn from or am I choosing what I like?

Child-led learning allows the children to follow their interests with the parent being the facilitator of discovery. This does not have to exclude lessons, homeschool products, involvement or direction from parents. Some parents provide very little structure while others have core subjects that must be completed. Every family is unique and, even within the same family, each child may prefer or require different levels of freedom and responsibility for their own learning. Like dancing with different partners, a parent may take different steps with each child.

“When you take the free will out of education, that makes it schooling.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

Am I recreating my own schoolish ideas at home or am I constantly looking for fresh new ways for my children to learn?

 “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”  ~John Holt

Do I only count book-based learning as education, or am I looking at all of life as learning and seeing the educational value and opportunities in everyday activities in the home and elsewhere?

 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “ ~ The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:6-7

 

Am I giving my children enough free time for them to either get bored or find their own activities and projects to pursue?

“Kids need time to be bored; that is how creativity is born.” ~ Melanie Jean Juneau

Am I giving my children opportunities to do real, meaningful work in the home?

Helping in the home raises children’s self-confidence. Assigning them tasks teaches them that they are part of the family team, that they can serve others, that they are needed and that they can be responsible and trustworthy.

“It’s not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do themselves that will make them successful human beings” ~ Ann Landers

Am I keeping to someone else’s or some curriculum’s prescriptive schedule or am I flexible enough to also allow time for spontaneous, unplanned learning opportunities and activities?

Adults often assume that learning only occurs as a result of teaching carefully planned lessons and that spontaneous learning is random and ineffective. On the contrary, spontaneous learning is often extremely interesting, highly productive and may often be more contextually relevant than a pre-planned topic in a text book.

“Education is every day and everywhere, the only thing you have to do pay is attention.” ~ Tim Fargo

 

Am I building up a network of contacts with people who can also come alongside my children and help to facilitate their learning?

Grandparents, friends, neighbours, fellow-homeschoolers, tutors or others in your community can help develop your children’s interests and mastery in specific fields where you might not be well-equipped to do so.

“Anyone who really wants to learn without school has to find other people to learn with and from. That’s the open secret of learning outside of school. It’s a social act. Learning is something we do together. Independent learners are interdependent learners. “  ~ Kio Stark

Perhaps most importantly of all:

Are you building a relationship of mutual love, respect and trust with your children? Are you training your children’s character and teaching them good morals, self-discipline and respect for God, mankind and creation?

“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honour, virtue, self-control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.” ~ David O. McKay

“When I look at a child, I see a living, breathing person, made in God’s image, for whom God has a plan. As parent educators, we need to embrace a new notion of learning…we need to engage the heart in order to effectively educate the child. Our vision of a well-educated child is a child who has a heart for learning, a child who has the tools he needs to continue to learn for a lifetime and a child who has the love to want to do it.” ~ Elizabeth Foss

You may think that you are making mistakes and meandering off-track, but along the way, you are modelling problem-solving and life-long learning for your children.

Home education is as much a journey for the parent, discovering, often by trial and error, how learning happens best …as well as the educational journey of the children.

And at the risk of including too many quotes, consider these:

“The key is to understand that our children don’t belong to us—they belong to God. Our goal as parents must not be limited by our own vision. I am a finite, sinful, selfish man. Why would I want to plan out my children’s future when I can entrust them to the infinite, omnipotent, immutable, sovereign Lord of the universe? I don’t want to tell God what to do with my children—I want Him to tell me!” ~ Voddie T. Baucham Jr

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” ~ James 1:5