homeschooling / parenting

doubt in your homeschool choice

Doubt: that five letter word that occasionally occupies parents minds when they choose a less than conventional educational route for their children.

Really though, you don’t have to be a homeschool parent to have parenting doubts.

Have a child? Have doubts.

Am I giving him what he needs? Am I influencing him in the right direction? When she acts unpleasantly, is it a reflection of how I’m engaging her? Is she getting enough of an academic challenge? Am I helping him connect with others effectively?

Sign up for parenting, sign up for doubts.

When you hold that little one in your arms for the first time, you also hold a world of uncertain potentials. Will she survive the night in her crib? The first time she eats solids, will she choke? Should I immunize or will I induce harm? Should I leave her to cry it out or baby carry until my English-speaking baby tells me otherwise, in French?

Doubt exists in every choice we make as parents. It comes with the territory. We feel the serious responsibility of imprinting a human, teaching her what she needs to know about morality, about people, about purpose, addressing feelings, following interests, and developing aptitudes. All this and we’re trying to just keep them alive through the toddler and teenage years.

Choose the less than conventional lifestyle of homeschooling, and we are guaranteed to hear others’ express their doubts too.

The homeschool lifestyle introduces a new repertoire of doubts. Conversations on doubt are a constant friend when chatting with new homeschooling mothers. Often new homeschool mamas want to be shown the ropes so their uncertainties can be quelled.

Not following the grain of the culture naturally makes people question themselves. Having a constant stream of questions on homeschool socialization and academics encourages our uncertainties. There’s a constant dribble of outsider worries manifesting in ‘helpful questions’, like ‘what if your child misses something’, ‘what if they want to return to school’, ‘are they comparable to other similar grade kids?’ There’s always a ‘helpful question’.

Be surrounded by 99.7 out of a 100 families of schoolchildren that are doing something different than you (those are stats for registered homeschooling families in my province in 2012), and even the most fearless will surely doubt themselves at some point.

I know a homeschooling mama who expressed her uncertainty in the choice of her child’s educational path, despite her child’s faithful attendance in a high school level on-line science class (he was twelve), gobbling up books on Aristotle or Shakespeare, memorizing the periodic table of elements, and learning to play the trumpet that impressed a national judge. This highly academic mom is still concerned she isn’t providing an adequate education. Go figure. We all have doubts.

Acknowledge our doubts. We begin to address our doubts when we put words to our feelings. What is the reason behind our doubt?

Doubt arises in all sorts of homeschool forms:

I don’t know how to teach my child to read. I feel underequipped and incompetent.
  • I don’t feel strong enough in my math skills to teach my children. I feel underequipped and incompetent.
  • My kiddo is introverted: should she be in a class of twenty five to expand her horizons? I feel afraid my child will grow up not knowing how to interact with kids.
  • I don’t feel organized on the best of days; how can I possibly plan a child’s education? I feel overwhelmed by the level of responsibility.
  • Should I trust unschooling to serve my child’s academic needs? I’ve bought into the child-led approach to gaining and maintaining their interest, but I feel afraid that I’ll shortchange them and cause them to have learning gaps.
  • The local public school is bringing an aquarium program or a robotics program. I feel uncertain that what I can offer my child is actually better than what the school can provide.
  • Should I choose the curriculum I have or the one everyone else is talking about? I feel uncertain that my choice is not better than another homeschool friend’s choice.
  • Charlotte Mason or Susan Wise Bauer? I feel uncertain about which approach is best. Charlotte Mason focuses on art, language and nature; whereas, Susan Wise Bauer provides all the benefits of a private school.
  • My kiddo says he hates homeschool. I feel deflated and undervalued. The very person I am extending my life energy towards doesn’t see the value in it.

Some of our doubts can be dispelled by acknowledging them. Saying them out loud and taking a few deep breaths.

Deep breathe. Take a deep breath and allow that feeling to become less intense. Sometimes there is nothing we can do to make the uncertainty go away. We need to accept that not knowing is part of the human experience. But feelings often pass by mere virtue of them being feelings.

Perfect parenting isn’t a thing. Every parent experiences doubt. Schooled or homeschooled. There is no perfect way to parent, and even if there was, there will be no perfect parent to make that happen.

Accept that you’re human and you’re learning. This journey of parenting, homeschooling or schooled, is a journey of growth and learning for you too. Through your children’s eyes, you learn more than you want to learn. You signed up for more than you knew when brought that baby home. You can’t know the future. You can’t know your mistakes. You just have to trust that there’s a purpose behind the learning.

Some of our feelings need a little more analysis.

You’ll learn how to approach those in my post tomorrow…

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