Did you know that homeschooling your children is a COURAGEOUS act?
Initially I looked at these definitions and chuckled. It makes homeschool sound so DRAMATIC, so HARD. But then I looked again and saw so much of homeschooling in the definition of courage.
Ask homeschool veterans from just a generation ago about the dangers associated with homeschooling - when homeschooling was illegal in many places. Talk with moms of special needs children about difficulties. Ask ANY homeschool parent (especially those homeschooling high school!) about FEAR.
What about the grief that comes from lost or broken family relationships? The pain of being ostracized because you homeschool?
Welcome to part 3 of the Homeschool Requires series -- let's explore COURAGE - because it takes a lot of COURAGE to complete this most awesome of tasks before us.
Did you miss an installment of the series?? Don't worry - find them all here.
Courage When Family Disagrees With Homeschool
I must admit, those words stung.
Those words were spoken to me by my parents - right after I told them we would be homeschooling Anna and Grant (then 8 and 4).
I've been there when I tell you I understand what it's like to have your family disagree with homeschool.
After the initial homeschool conversation with my parents we traveled back home and I was determined to prove them wrong. I was a strong willed kid and that has served me well into my adult years.
I just KNEW homeschool was the best choice for my children, and I am so thankful I didn't let the voices of skeptics deter me from what I knew was right.
Little by little over the next few years my parents began to see for themselves what home education looked like. My kids would talk their ear off about what they were learning. Anna would sit them down on the sofa and show them her lapbooks she had created.
They saw how many opportunities there were for "socialization" in our area.
They witnessed that education isn't about SCHOOL -- it's about raising children that love to learn and show empathy and compassion for others.
They learned the world as a classroom beats a classroom of cinder block walls and 25 other children your same age.
They saw us travel with our kids and give them amazing opportunities to learn about history, geography, science, and more!
Now, my parents are fans of homeschooling - in fact, they tell me nearly every time we talk what a great idea they think homeschooling is.
Many times we must educate not only our children but everyone else around us -- homeschooling does look WEIRD to people -- and it's up to us to do the very best job we can to bolster the image of homeschool at large! That doesn't mean you have to ram it down their throats - just be a quiet example of an excellent homeschool.
I still have a few family members who disagree with our decision - family members who have deep ties to public schools. I've been on the receiving end of some very hurtful comments about homeschooling and how my children are being denied opportunities because I don't send them to school. And you know what?
It's my experience that people fear and/or criticize that which they don't understand.
Moms, take heart -- if you are met with family resistance to homeschooling, you might just win over the detractors when they see what wonderful results your homeschool produces. Stay the course and do what is right for your kiddos --- and no one else!
And, if you don't win those family members to your side - just remember WHO you are working for.
A few things to ponder when it comes to having courage with family members:
- WHY are your family members criticizing you? It probably has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with their fears, ignorance, or self defensiveness.
- WHO are you responsible to? Last time I checked I was responsible to my husband, children, and God. If I take my eyes off of those players then I get discouraged and defeated in the face of criticism.
- Grace goes a long way. It's very hard for me to sit back and take criticism, but sometimes that is much more graceful than offering a nasty rebuttal.
I've been there and I UNDERSTAND.
You can do it! (Hey, I've even taught my kids math.)
Courage in the Face of Societal Pressures
You homeschool your kids?
Ok - here are some attitudes/obstacles you might encounter:
- All of the neighborhood moms have a "back to school" breakfast where they put the kiddos on the bus and celebrate summer is finally over and they don't have to "entertain" their kids any more. They even post on Facebook how wonderful it is to see that big yellow bus pull up.
- You are struggling financially, and a well meaning friend or family member suggests your problems will be solved if you just "put them in school" so you can go back to work.
- Your child isn't reading by the age of 6 or 7 and their Sunday School teacher expresses their concern to you. Maybe you should send them to school to learn how to read.
- How on earth will your child ever function out in the world if you don't push them out of the nest at age 5? We need to "toughen kids up" to face the harsh realities of our world.
- Children wanting to spend time with their siblings and parents over their friends surely must need more socialization -- what teenager, especially, wants to spend time with their family?
- How will your homeschooler get into college? You need the backing of an institutional school to give your child's education any kind of validity.
Well, not so much.
You need to be able to close your ears to these types of comments and keep on moving when you homeschool.
Let's face it. We live in a society that tells parents they aren't "enough" to raise their children.
Women's efforts are better spent working for a corporation than they are raising their own children. After all - taking care of little kids isn't rocket science. You can stick them in a day care center and have underpaid workers do that job for you.
You certainly can't teach your own child, so you need an entire government led system to do it for you.
We've even delegated our children's religious upbringing to colossal youth groups and Sunday School programs.
I know so many smart, capable, loving young women that believe the lie that their time is better spent pursuing a career than it is raising a family. My heart aches for the coming generation of children, who will grow up knowing they come in second place to careers and money.
(And I UNDERSTAND what it is like to have to work when you have children - I've done it ever since my youngest was born... but I've always figured out ways to work where I didn't have to put my children in day care or school.)
When you decide to homeschool you will have to swim upstream against societal expectations. Don't let this discourage you!! The longer you homeschool the more comfortable you will be in the lifestyle, and the more it will just become part of who you are. After a while you will start to buck other societal expectations -- and to finally think for YOURSELF rather than as part of the masses.
Over the years I've written a lot about this - I pray these articles will encourage you!
Parents, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!
Courage in the Face of Self Doubt
This is something I've struggled with through the years. I think it's a normal part of being a homeschooling parent. Goodness, it's a normal part of just being HUMAN.
Will I be able to teach them to read?
Will my impatience scar them for life?
I can't give them EVERYTHING they need.
Will I be able to prepare them for college?
All I can tell you is this: You ARE enough.
God has given YOU these children. He knows you are enough for them.
Grace is a wonderful thing, and it covers your homeschool liberally at all times.
There will be many times when you doubt yourself, but it is in those moments that you realize your inadequacy and acknowledge your dependence upon God's mercy and grace.
This mom you see in the picture was TIRED and feeling doubtful she could complete the task ahead (homeschool high school in this case)... but after spending a weekend at a homeschool mom's retreat and taking time to recharge my batteries I realized that I was enough -- in fact I was exactly what my children needed for this journey.
You must take time for YOURSELF - your care and education - your peace of mind and health - to face and conquer those doubts.
I've also found there are so many resources available for homeschooling parents - books, podcasts, seminars, homeschool groups, etc... In this day and age if you are doubting your ability to teach a certain subject you can outsource it or you can learn along WITH your child and model the very valuable skill of learning.
I would rather teach my own children and have them see all of my flaws and inadequacies than never have tried. Humbling myself before my kids has grown me in ways I never imagined.
Here are some resources that might help boost your courage, too:
I've enjoyed writing this summer series about what homeschooling really requires. We've seen that homeschool requires COMMITMENT, LOVE & COURAGE.
In the next installment we will explore CONSISTENCY.
If you know someone who is new to homeschooling, or contemplating homeschooling, won't you share this series with them? It is my prayer that this will reach moms and dads who are doubting or on the fence - or parents that just need some extra encouragement for the coming school year.
I would love to hear from you about COURAGE... how do you feel homeschool has required courage? Do you find it difficult to find that courage, or has it come easily for you?