That five letter word that occupies all of us that choose a less than conventional educational route for our children, and less than conventional lifestyle choice for our family, is all too familiar.
Really though, you have a child = you have doubts. You sign up for doubts and fears when you hold that little one in your hands for the first time. A world of fearful possibilities enter your mental space when you become a parent. Doubt exists in every choice, whether we homeschool or not.
Conversations on doubt are a constant friend when chatting with new homeschooling mothers, because they want the more senior of us to show them the ropes, reveal our certainties, and quell the fears of the uninitiated.
Not following the grain of the culture would naturally make anyone question themselves. You don’t need to have a constant stream of questions on homeschool socialization and academics to encourage your own uncertainties. (Although, a constant dribble of outsider worries does help.) Be surrounded by 99.7 out of a 100 people that are doing something different than you (those are the stats for registered homeschooling families in the province where we live in 2012, fewer today, as that is the trend, http://bchea.ca/resources/statistics/ ), and even the most fearless would surely wonder at some point.
Just days ago, I heard a homeschooling mama express her uncertainty in the choice of her child’s educational path, despite her child’s attendance in a high school level science class (he’s twelve), and gobbling up books galore, some on renaissance art and the history of science, memorizing the elements of the periodic table, even learning to play the trumpet that impress a national judge. This child loves adult conversation, can easily engage anyone, even eclipse adults in academic discussions, and yet happily plays childish games in his backyard.
How do we get to the source of our fears? We need to verbalize them. A necessary question to clarify our thoughts: What is the source of our doubt?
Doubt can represent all sorts of things. I don’t know how to teach my child to read. I don’t feel strong enough in my math skills to teach my children. My kiddo is introverted: should she be in a class of twenty five to expand her horizons? I don’t feel organized on the best of days; how do I plan an education? Should I trust unschooling to serve my child’s academic needs? Should I choose this curriculum or that one? This homeschooling path or that one? What if my child doesn’t meet his peer academic levels? Should I or shouldn’t I care about gaps in their education?
Some of our doubts we can quell, simply by acknowledging them, taking a deep breath and allowing them to pass. Some doubts, we need to address full on, research our reasons, find our answer, and own our choices.
There’s so many ways to parent, and passionate declarations and books and courses and magazine articles and blogs 😉 that suggest one way to parent or another.
- Accept Reality: there’s no way not to ever not doubt (you might need to read that double negative sentence twice).
- Parenting perfection isn’t a thing, no matter what choices we make. We weren’t designed to play God. We were intended to lead, guide and direct, love, nurture and provide. But not perfectly (that’d be as possible as countering gravity on an Earthly existence). Just as God placed us specifically as parents into each of our children’s lives, our children were placed in our lives to teach us something too.
- Ask yourself why you first made a choice to homeschool. What compelled you? Was there something that drew you to it? Or something conventional that you resisted? Answer that question. Then regularly remind yourself of the answer.
- And refine your answer. Sometimes the reasons we start aren’t the reasons we continue. We may have tripped into it because we saw something lacking in the conventional path, something that our children needed that we saw was missing. Perhaps we need to focus on the things that are working better in our homes, than the conventional path.
- Don’t doubt yourself because others doubt you. Too easy to fall into that trap in all sorts of areas. A life trap, really. If we judged ourselves through the eyes of others, we would only ever judge ourselves wanting, doubt ourselves and be very stationery (yet, most people don’t actually care about our choices as much as we sometimes think). The only one we need to see ourselves through is the one who made us.
- Meditate and pray. Speak to the one who made you, planted the purpose inside you, and listen to the one who is leading you still. This step right here will cement certainty beyond anything else.
- So get on with what you’re doing. Continuously fine tune what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and then do it, and enjoy it (as many days as is possible).
In the end, it is these younger people that have been placed in your world, these smiles, the experience of the every day, that you were hoping for when you first started this homeschooling journey. So enjoy the journey, enjoy your path, enjoy your kiddos…