Note from Kresha: I've been getting lots of requests to see into our homeschool day, so I'm working on writing up a post to share our day. In the meantime, our absolutely lovely monthly contributor who also happens to be a veteran homeschooling mom, Carolyn, wrote this post, which I find encouraging and insightful. Enjoy!
So, how's it going?
If you're like a lot of homeschoolers, you officially started the school year sometime last month or late in August, which always seemed so funny to me because . . . why? Just because the public school system does?
Well, yes, that's pretty much it, but I can't critique. We ran our school year from mid-September through May because it worked for us — and that is the key component to the independent decisions that we all make: what works, best, for us?
The upshot is that you're probably ending your first month, or six weeks, of the brand new year of homeschooling, and what started out as exciting and new, even if you've done this before, is wearing away some of its shine. About now is the time we start asking ourselves,
“Oh, gosh — is this working?”
“Are my kids really getting the education that they need?”
“Am I — are we — doing this right?”
These questions are always in the back of parent/teachers' minds, that is, when they're not shouting out in the forefront, and one of the biggest challenges about homeschooling our kids is not the curriculum we choose or the schedule we set up or the subjects we address, but the confidence — or lack of it — that we have about what we're doing.
After all, many people around us think that we're nuts, and more than one of them is watching for evidence that our children are educationally deprived (“You mean that he can't do his multiplication tables yet?”), socially inept (“She's awful quiet. If you put her in a classroom of 25 other kids, she'd be forced to be normal”), unduly sheltered (“You haven't taught your second grader about his sexuality? This is going to mess him up as a teenager”) or unhappy (“I don't think she wants to be homeschooled. What right do you have to do this to her?”)
And that's not to mention the sideline glances you get at the grocery store, you and your brood at 10 o'clock in the morning: “Oh my, is there no school today? Oh, I see. Do you consider shopping an educational endeavor?”
It's not enough that you are charting an individual course for your little family, based upon research, observation, networking with other homeschoolers, and gut instinct — you also have to look good — much much better, actually — than your non-homeschooling counterparts. It's no wonder that we feel pressured all the time.
But we must get over this, and one of the first steps in doing so is recognizing why we're homeschooling in the first place, something I address in more detail in another article, Why Do You Homeschool?
If you feel that certain material — like sex education — is introduced at too early of an age and in too inappropriate a manner in the public school system, then that's a factor you took into consideration when you set up your homeschool. You disagreed with the public school way of doing things, and if someone observes (and yes, it's really none of their business) that you're doing things differently, well, you are.
That's why you're homeschooling: to provide an acceptable alternative to what's out there, and when you choose a narrow path, be assured that the people around you will notice, comment, critique, and, sometimes, laud.
But it's not about what other people think, or what you think they're thinking. It's about you, your children, your family, your way of doing things, and what works best for all of you. As homeschoolers, you're not about looking like a teeny version of public school, you're about finding the best methods to teach your children what they need to know: how to think, how to analyze, how to question, how to learn. Whatever achieves those broad-based goals — is working.