Thinking About Homeschooling? Read This First.

Some Thoughts to Comfort You While Jumping Ship

In my time as the director of our local homeschool resource center, I have seen a number of parents jump ship from public school over the winter break. School vacations give us an opportunity to see our children relax, destress and begin to seem normal again. I think many parents look at their kids and wonder how they can send them back to a place that just seems to make them unhappy. This usually isn’t an impulse move, it comes after months or years of “what can we do” meetings with teachers and administrators, making deals with your child and feeling hopeless over the lack of options. When you started the year, you were sure this one would be different – different teachers, maybe a different school altogether, but by winter break, it all just seemed so familiar. So now you’re at this point of panic, feverishly researching online curriculum and homeschooling help. You are filled with anxiety because our culture has convinced you that pulling your child from school will ruin their life, but your heart tells you that not pulling your child from school will destroy them. You are losing sleep over what feels like the most important decision you have ever made. I could tell you that while you have hard work ahead of you, homeschooling is not nearly as insurmountable a task as you’ve been led to believe. I could tell you that most likely, everything will be ok. I have a feeling, though, that you’re not quite ready to hear that. Here are a few thoughts that might comfort you as you make this difficult transition:

School vacations give us an opportunity to see our children relax, destress and begin to seem normal again.

In my time as the director of our local homeschool resource center, I have seen a number of parents jump ship from public school over the winter break. School vacations give us an opportunity to see our children relax, destress and begin to seem normal again. I think many parents look at their kids and wonder how they can send them back to a place that just seems to make them unhappy. This usually isn’t an impulse move, it comes after months or years of “what can we do” meetings with teachers and administrators, making deals with your child and feeling hopeless over the lack of options. When you started the year, you were sure this one would be different – different teachers, maybe a different school altogether, but by winter break, it all just seemed so familiar. So now you’re at this point of panic, feverishly researching online curriculum and homeschooling help. You are filled with anxiety because our culture has convinced you that pulling your child from school will ruin their life, but your heart tells you that not pulling your child from school will destroy them. You are losing sleep over what feels like the most important decision you have ever made. I could tell you that while you have hard work ahead of you, homeschooling is not nearly as insurmountable a task as you’ve been led to believe. I could tell you that most likely, everything will be ok. I have a feeling, though, that you’re not quite ready to hear that. Here are a few thoughts that might comfort you as you make this difficult transition:

So now you’re at this point of panic, feverishly researching online curriculum and homeschooling help.

  • This is not a crazy decision. Even though you might be questioning your sanity, you have to know deep down that this decision is coming from your unconditional love for your child and your desire to give them the best options in life. Homeschoolers have been portrayed by our culture as antisocial and extreme people, but the truth is that most of us have experienced this exact moment that you are having – that sickening feeling like the bottom is going to drop out and this ride is going to start, whether you want it to or not. We didn’t choose to homeschool, we just discovered that it was our only option. But, once we started, most of us realized that it was a better option in so many ways.
  • You don’t have to be a teacher to guide your child’s education. First of all, I could probably write volumes about the school-taught skills that are and are not necessary to be a functioning member of this society. I’m not going to get into that right now, but I can promise you that if your child doesn’t learn everything that is included in a third-grade curriculum, they will be fine. In fact, many homeschoolers choose not to follow a curriculum and let their children’s interests dictate their education. This type of homeschooling is called “unschooling” and has produced many capable (and happy) adults without sitting them down and teaching them all of the required stuff.
  • You don’t have to find a new curriculum immediately. In fact, you don’t have to do anything. Keep your child home, go for hikes, spend time at your local science museum. Our culture has convinced us that if a child isn’t constantly learning math and reading on a daily basis, that they will fall behind and they will never be able to catch up. This is simply not true. In fact, if your child has a negative view of education, they will have a very difficult time learning in any environment. Taking the time to just hang out and set a different tone for your homeschooling might just be the key to success. When you’re ready to get into academics, there are plenty of free online resources which are just as good or better than the options provided by your local school.
  • If you don’t have support, you can find it. Homeschoolers are everywhere. You’ve probably noticed them at the grocery store, but you just assumed that they were taking the day off from school. If you can’t find them in your local community, join an online support group. There are so many homeschooling veterans out there who can help you to avoid common pitfalls or just offer you a shoulder to cry on. Many times, our immediate family and friends don’t understand or support our choice to homeschool, so it is important to seek out support immediately.
  • It is ok to take it one day at a time. Seriously, you’re not going to figure this thing out in a week, a month, or probably even a year. Just as teachers are constantly evolving and getting better at what they do, so are homeschooling parents! We aren’t going to be great at it right off the bat, so don’t beat yourself up if your spectacular lesson idea completely blows up in your face. It happens to all of us. Just pick yourself up and try again tomorrow, or better yet, take tomorrow off and spend some quality downtime with your child.

I hope these thoughts bring you some comfort as you start your homeschooling journey. It is a wild ride, but most of us would not trade this experience for anything. If you need help with planning, goal setting, and time tracking, we’ve created some free tools to help parents plan and document their homeschooling journey, regardless of how they choose to homeschool. Check them out at unschoolinc.com.