That five letter word that occupies every homeschool parent’s mind at some point. Those who choose the less than conventional educational route for their children and their family, are all too familiar with the feeling of doubt.
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 enters your mental space when you become a parent.
Doubt exists in every choice, whether we homeschool or not.
Doubt comes with the homeschool 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.
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, quell their certainties and fears.
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 uncertainties. (Although, a constant dribble of outsider worries manifested in helpful questions does assist the homeschooler in fueling doubt.)
Be surrounded by 99.7 out of a 100 people that are doing something different than your family (those are the stats for registered homeschooling families where we live), and even the most fearless would surely doubt themselves at some point.
I once heard a homeschooling mama express her uncertainty in her homeschool choice, despite her child’s attendance in a high school level science class (at age twelve), despite his gobbling up books on renaissance art and Aristotle, despite memorizing the elements of the periodic table, and despite learning to play the trumpet that impressed a national judge. This child loves adult conversation, can engage any conversation, can even eclipse adults in academic discussions, and yet happily plays child-based games in his backyard. And his mama was doubting.
A necessary question to clarify our thoughts: What is the source of our doubt?
Doubt arises in all sorts of homeschool forms:
- 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?
- The local public school is bringing an aquarium program, or a robotics program, or a program we can’t afford to bring into our home or visit in another city.
- Should I choose the curriculum I have or the one everyone else is talking about?
- Charlotte Mason or Susan Wise Bauer?
- What if my child doesn’t meet his peer academic levels?
- Oh no! I see gaps in my kids’ education.
- My kiddo says he hates homeschool.
Some of our doubts can be quelled simply by acknowledging them.
Just like clouds in the sky, our feelings pass quickly if we wait patiently.
Deep breathe. Take a deep breath and allow that doubt feeling to pass, again. 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. We can not determine everything.
We’ve grappled with this before, we’ve reasoned through this before, we’ve determined how we will act with this uncertainty, and now we must render that feeling again.
Some doubts we address head on, researching our reasons, finding our answer, and owning our choices.
There are so many ways to parent and live the family life, so many passionate declarations in books and courses and magazine articles and TedTx and blogs 😉 We need to own our reasons for doing what we do.
You’ve chosen the homeschooling path, because you want to. So you get to practice being confident in your choice.
- Accept the human experience: There is no way not to doubt your choices. Doubt is a human experience. We experience doubt in all sorts of realms.
- Parenting perfection isn’t a thing, no matter what choices we make. We weren’t designed to play God for our children. We were intended to lead, guide and direct, love, nurture and provide. But perfect parenting isn’t a possibility, because we aren’t perfect. Do what you can with what you know. When you know to do better, do better. Thank you, Maya Angelou.
- Parenting is a process that enables us to take a close look at ourselves. Our children are one of our mirrors in life that help us see ourselves more clearly. Just as we were placed specifically in our children’s lives, our children were placed in our lives to teach us something too. What we see will not always be pleasant, but when we set ourselves on a path of growth, we will grow. We will never have it all figured.
- Ask why we first made a choice to homeschool. What compelled that decision? What did we expect were the positive benefits? What were we hoping we would gain from homeschooling?
- Then refine the answers. Sometimes the reasons we start homeschooling aren’t the reasons we continue. We may have tripped into homeschooling because we saw something lacking in the conventional path or something that our children needed that we saw was missing. In the first week, we saw a transformation in our child, and we didn’t want to return to convention because we were simply more at ease. Perhaps we saw overall family harmony increase (no, not perfect family harmony, just more harmony). Or we identified the interesting education we were gaining, as well as our children. Or we recognized the increased time we gained in snippets throughout our weeks, both in our schedule and in our children’s. Or we realized that our children were more confident and secure. Or we saw the endless memories we created together that we didn’t have when they were in school.
- Don’t doubt yourself because others doubt you. If it weren’t enough that we doubt ourselves, we also take on the doubts of everyone around us. Too easy to fall into that trap in many areas of life. If we judge ourselves through the eyes of others, we will always find something to question ourselves. Be still, most people don’t actually care about our choices as much as you might think. This has been one of the most freedom creating practices I have instilled my life, learning to set mental boundaries with what other people think, and recognizing that there is far too much energy expended caring about what other people think.
- Meditate and pray. Be still. Listen to the still, small voice. Speak to the one who made you, speak to the one who planted this particular 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. You will continuously fine tune what you’re doing the longer you’re doing it. You’ll also fine tune why you’re doing it. So just get on with doing it. And try to focus on enjoy it! For all the efforts you put into your family, enjoy the process, enjoy watching the moments of connection between your children and absorb the moments of connection with them, enjoy watching your child explore new areas of life, and relish in all the activities of your homeschool world.
In the end, these young people have been placed in our world. Each day we enjoy ordinary and extraordinary days.