When I first started homeschooling, I knew, without a doubt, I was homeschooling my kids for their benefit. I was going to focus on their individual needs. I was going to make sure that they explored what they each were interested in to their heart’s content. I would give them one on one instruction as well as group instruction to meet their developmental needs. It would be a challenge but it would be worth it for the benefit of my kids.
It took some time for the naysayers and the self-doubts to kick in, but eventually, we all fall victim to their mental games, even if for just a short time. It may be well-meaning family members or friends. It may be old co-workers that you run into. It may even be retired teachers you run into at the store with your kids during school hours. Whoever starts the doubt, intentional or not, unleashes a monster in your mind.
I know, I have been there.
First, it was the doubts from my family that got to me.
“Are you sure you can do this?”
“Shouldn’t they know about a concept by a certain age?”
“How do you know if you are teaching them enough?”
“Don’t you need a teaching degree or something to do that?”
These started fears in my head. I became afraid that I would mess up my children’s entire future. I worried I was going to mess them up and that they would never be able to get jobs that made them happy. I worried about whether or not my kids would be able to get along with other kids. And I worried that I was going to fail them as a mom.
These fears affected how I taught and what I taught them.
I spent the time that I typically would be sleeping or getting a much needed mental break attending online teaching seminars. I changed the demands on my kiddos regarding their school day, trying to make the complete even more work. I started trying to make them mentally able to complete tasks that developmentally, they were not ready for yet. I made our school time no longer fun for me or for my kiddos out of fear.
Our homeschool fell apart and so did we.
Our sudden struggles to get through every day when they had been a happy breeze before was my wake up call. I was not a happy mom. My kiddos were not happy either. School time was becoming dreaded and something to fight over instead of something they would happily run to join me for.
I realized that I was performing for outside family members, not teaching my kids.
If there was a real reset button for life, I would have pushed it at that point. Basically, I did do a reset. I went back to what was working. I went back to what made my kids happy. I went back to caring more about my kids than what others thought or said. Everything was smooth sailing….. for a time.
Fast forward a few years down the road and this time, the doubts came from outside influences. That theoretical teacher at a store was real. She saw my kids and me out at the grocery store. I was actually having my kids work on math while helping me shop. She acted curious at first and then outright concerned.
“Can they tell time yet?
“How are their math facts?”
“Do they know the scientific method?”
“How can you be sure that they are on the same level as others their age?”
I am sure she meant well, but it put the fear back into me. How DO I know that I am teaching them enough? What if they are behind other kids their age? Are my kids behind?? I panicked. I started looking up assessments for my kids. I had them work through some, despite the frustration they were showing. They were doing their best but they had never been prepared for an assessment, much less a full level assessment. I also started comparing what I had taught them to the local school district and their posted syllabus for each grade level.
I added on extra work to “fix” the difference between my school and public schools.
Our school days again became difficult. My children started pushing back against my instruction. They were hiding school books so they wouldn’t have to do the new work I had found for them. They were all-out rebelling against school and all they would agree to do was art, reading, and PE at the playground.
Having lost control again, I looked at myself and realized that again I was performing for others.
It can be so easy to fall into this trap of performing for others. We listen to others, we hear what we think are shortcomings or the people outright say we have shortcomings, and we run with it. Our mind holds onto this fear that we are not enough, that we are not doing enough for our kids. We don’t stop to realize that, yes, we are doing a WONDERFUL job for our kids. They are learning, growing, and becoming independent thinkers under our instruction and guidance. We do not need to prove to others we are enough. We do not need to prove to others that our children are growing and are right where they need to be academically. We just need to look at our kids, see their joy, and know that we are doing the best possible for them and they love us for it.
No need to perform, just be there for your kids.
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.