Conquering Your Homeschool Fears

Our summer science begins next week, and it’s got me thinking about some people I know who are still trying to make the decision to homeschool.  It’s a hard decision and a scary one.  As parents, we believe we know what is best for our children.  We see the flaws in the public school system and hope a miracle occurs that will fix them.  We see the bureaucracy involved and know the miracle probably will not come.  At least not soon enough for our kids.  We do research and realize private schools and charter schools, while they may be trying, are really not much better.  We have to decide.  Send our kids to school?  Or take on that enormous responsibility for ourselves?

Native American Crafts for American History 2012

Native American Crafts for American History 2012

Knight and horse craft 2013

Knight and horse craft 2013

Homemade kites 2012

Homemade kites 2012

If you’ve never done it before, deciding to homeschool is downright terrifying.  I remember well how scared I was as my beautiful husband and I made the decision.  I remember going to my neighbor’s house.  She has nine kids (I’ve counted them!), and has now graduated 3 from homeschool.  She had been homeschooling for several years when I went to her for advice.  She said, as any experienced homeschooling mama generally says, “Absolutely! You should go for it.”  There was A Lot more to that conversation.  Mostly I needed someone to tell me I could do it.  That I wasn’t setting out to destroy my children and setting myself up for an Epic Fail.

Let me be the first to tell you, you can do it.

Middle concentrating 2011- our first year

Middle concentrating 2011- our first year

As amazing as professional teachers are, each year they have 20-35 kids to look after and educate.  You only have a few, or maybe even just one.  So what you can give your kids that a public school teacher can’t is one-on-one.  Even when you’re unsure of your methods, that one-on-one training opens up so many possibilities.  When I first started, my homeschool looked very like public school–I taught the Littles according to their grade levels, gave them separate subjects, worked on a schedule much like a middle or high school is set up: certain subjects at certain times every day.  As that year progressed I realized my boys were far beyond what was considered their ‘grade level,’ so I upped the stakes and they followed along winningly.

Castle craft 2013

Castle craft 2013

Mayan temple craft 2011

Mayan temple craft 2011

The only thing I have kept from that first year is adherence to a schedule.  In my house, we all work better with structure so we keep it structured.  However, now the only subject they’re on different levels in is math, and they both learn science, history, art, language, geography, and music together.  It helps that the Littles are only two years apart.  Once they both had the basic understanding of a subject down, they could move on together without anyone feeling held back or left behind.  I do expect more from Middle when it comes to research, writing, and the like, but he is technically 2 grades ahead of Littlest so it’s only fair.

My point is, there are so many ways to homeschool and if you pick one no one is saying you have to continue with it.  You can change it up.  I do.  Every. Single. Year.  The Littles love not being boxed in to a certain type of learning or even a set number of subjects.  They give me input on how we should do things, and decide on their own electives.  They even help me decide what order we’ll do our schedule in.  That way, they are learning to make their own decisions about their education, which I hope will stead them well when the time comes for college.

Littlest with his Robinson Crusoe journal 2014

Littlest with his Robinson Crusoe journal 2014

The myriad options for approaching homeschool should erase at least some of your fears.  There are others, of course.  Like the whole, “Wow, if I do this, I am committed to doing this for 12-13 years.”  Well, yeah.  But you’re going to be raising them anyway, and it is kind of your job.  The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that if it all gets overwhelming or you find that homeschooling isn’t working for your family, you can send them to school.  As long as you have kept them at their grade level in work they should assimilate pretty easily.  So take that fear off the list.  You can homeschool for a year or until they graduate.  The option for change is always there.

Then there’s the financial question.  I’m not going to lie–there are months when we struggle a bit and I start thinking, “We wouldn’t have to worry about this if I just went back to work.”  In my case, my beautiful husband is always there to remind me why we made this decision and of the cost of child care and professional clothing and daily lunches and gas money.  And we remember we’d be giving up this wonderful opportunity to raise our kids ourselves in order to make an extra–what?–$50 dollars a week?  A hundred?  After we factor in the costs of me going back to work, it suddenly seems like a Really Bad Idea.  So we make it through and things get right again, and I am always grateful I didn’t cave.  If you decide to give up half the family’s income in order to homeschool, it’s going to be hard.  You’ll have to give up some luxuries and some social activities in order to afford books or paper and pencils.  Or a rocking printer like the one I finally invested in.  But the rewards are so numerous.  I promise you, getting to be the one who teaches your kids their values and ideals, sees every nuance of their growth, and witnesses all their firsts makes it worth it.  And as a good friend of mine says about the people you owe money to, “They can’t eat you.  What are you stressing about?”  Also, I know several families in which the primary homeschooler has a part-time or even a full-time job.  The options are there and apparently doable.

Scarecrow-building day with our homeschool friends 2013

Scarecrow-building day with our homeschool friends 2013

You might also be really scared of what will happen to your kids socially.  In our society, the public school system is where kids learn to interact with others, right?  It’s where they make friends.  Now, I know there are people out there who have been lifelong friends with people they met at school.  I am not one of them.  My circle these days is made up of people I’ve worked with, family, people I’ve met through my husband, people from all sorts of places… none of them people I knew in high school.  In fact, barring a couple of exceptions, I have never had a desire to remain friends with the people I went to high school with.  I had a lot of friends in high school.  I wasn’t comfortable around most of them.  I didn’t agree with the way they thought, the things they did, or the way they viewed the future.  I always felt like an oddball.  Why would I still want to feel like that as an adult?  I mean, think about it–public school throws us in with a bunch of other people our age that we don’t get to pick and we have to at least find one or two we can tolerate for the next 12 years.  In high school, most of my friends went to other schools and I only saw them on the weekends.  So technically, public school didn’t do much for me socially except teach me to hide who I really was.

Do you want that for your kids?  The thing is, as long as you don’t hole your kids up in your house 24/7, they’re going to make friends.  It’s what kids do.  It’s what humans do.  I’ve talked about this extensively in another post, so I’m just going to say, wipe that fear off your list.

Equinox lesson at local forestry's nature center 2013

Equinox lesson at local forestry’s nature center 2013

Listen, fear begets courage.  It’s healthy to have a little fear, because it helps you think things through.  It can even help you throw on your big-girl boots and tackle a problem head on.  If you’re still wavering about homeschool because of fear, take a deep breath.  Remember who you’ll be doing this for.  Contact someone with experience and let them encourage you.  Look at how happy my Littles look in all these photos.  Then look at your own kids.  And go for it.

Love wins,

KT

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. storiesofourboys
    Jun 13, 2015 @ 15:29:53

    🙂 Your school always looks so happy and fun. I love your point about friends that make you uncomfortable. I have that t-shirt too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • KT Brison
      Jun 13, 2015 @ 16:36:30

      I hope my Littles agree with you about our school! 🙂 It’s too bad, isn’t it, that we don’t realize we don’t Have To hang out with people who make us uncomfortable until so much later? I’m trying to teach the Littles that lesson now to save them grief! lol

      Like

      Reply

  2. Atlas Educational
    Jun 12, 2015 @ 03:30:23

    Ditto! I really never imagined myself homeschooling, but here I am two years later excited for next year too!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Ashley Wornell
    Jun 11, 2015 @ 18:59:53

    Well put.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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