The beauty of homeschool is freedom.
Many of us have chosen to homeschool our children because we desire freedom to choose HOW to teach, WHAT to teach, and WHEN to teach it. We desire freedom to allow our children to become who God intended them to be.
Our lives don't resemble our neighbors. We willingly abandon the ideal of traditional school.
Along the way, however, something insidious creeps into our thinking. We wonder if we're homeschooling in the "correct" way. Have we joined homeschool group XYZ (the one everyone is talking about)? Are we using the most rigorous math curriculum? Should my child be participating in those robotics camps everyone is talking about? Is my high schooler earning a million dual enrollment credits (because my friend's child sure is)?
(you get the point)
Why do we compare ourselves to other homeschoolers?
It can literally suck the life out of a happy homeschool.
So -- here is what I am proposing:
A content homeschooler is one that learns to stay in their OWN LANE.
Tips For Staying in Your Own Lane
I've schooled my children at home for nearly nine years. I have experienced Kindergarten through (almost) graduation.
If you DON'T stay in your own lane you will constantly be worried about what everyone else is doing - which leads to a feeling of unease, unhappiness, and discontent. The following tips have helped ME to stay in my own lane. Implementing these things has made a DRASTIC difference in our homeschool.
Choose your tribe carefully
Homeschool groups have different "flavors" and you need to find the one you like best.
Friends and community are crucial as we homeschool. Surround yourself with moms who share your values, goals, and ideals.
It might take a few attempts to find this type of community - and if it doesn't feel right to you it probably isn't. That's OK! Learn what you can from each situation and move on if it isn't a good one.
I had the great JOY of helping a friend of mine start a new Classical Conversations community this past year. We had a vision and knew what we wanted it to look like. We clearly felt God guiding our families to work on this endeavor together.
Last May we didn't know WHO would even join the community, WHERE we would meet, or IF we would have any tutors. We knew we had to meet and pray about it all. So we did - the earnest prayers of five moms were poured out that day and it was beautiful.
Guess what? God worked it all out and in the end He blessed us richly with a fruitful and sweet year of learning and fun.
This picture - our children playing a community game of kickball - is the culmination of our first year of community! God brought together many families to learn, struggle, and pray together about homeschool and life. It's been a beautiful thing.
It was worth it to wait for my tribe and to invest in the people in my tribe.
This doesn't mean you have run out and start your own group - sometimes homeschooling on your own with just a few trusted friends for playdates and encouragement is enough.
It all depends on your LANE.
Limit your inputs
Too many opinions and voices aren't good.
You might have people in your life who think they have a stake in your children's education (or at least the right to offer an opinion).
Guess what? They DON'T.
Only you are in charge of your child's education and trying to homeschool by committee doesn't work. You need to let the opinions of well meaning family and friends go in one ear and out the other.
If someone isn't building up your homeschool you might want to reevaluate the involvement they have in your life.
As you homeschool you need people who support you -- no matter what lane you choose.
Limit your inputs.
This includes SOCIAL MEDIA.
I love social media, but it has to be used sparingly and for encouragement, not comparison and discouragement. Limit who and what you follow and if you find yourself making comparisons or feeling "less than", it's time to reevaluate how much time you are spending and who you are following on social media.
Let your children lead you
Never let your "method" become more important than your child.
If you decided to homeschool so your child could have a more individualized education, why do want to do what all of the other homeschoolers are doing?
Have faith that your child will develop interests and passions as you homeschool. Follow their natural bent, provide opportunities for what they love to do, and I KNOW the rest will fall into place. I guarantee you it won't look like anyone else's homeschool - and that's what we want!
Your dreams might not necessarily be your child's -- that's a hard pill to swallow, isn't it?
A truly courageous homeschool parent is one who has the faith to let their child travel in their lane, and then follow them for the ride!
Trust your judgment
Why do we doubt ourselves?
God has gifted your children to YOU and you know what is best for them.
Do your research, be diligent in your homeschool endeavors, and stay in your own lane.
I believe it really IS that simple.
Get on your knees
One of my favorite books is Liturgy of the Ordinary. In this book it talks about how being PROSTRATE is so important for our daily worship experience. We need to get down on our knees and pray for our kids. Pray for the strength and wisdom to stay in your own lane, for God to be your driver!
Is prayer time a regular part of your day? Is it the FIRST line of defense when you have a worry or concern about your homeschool?
Comparison is human nature.
All it takes is a few minutes on Instagram or Facebook and anyone can wind up feeling "less than".
Here's my mantra these days. I speak these words daily to my myself and my children... and I find it's great for helping all of us stay in our own lanes!
A Few Resources
The following books have given me the courage to stay in my own lane. Maybe they can help you, too.
- Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace
- Educating the Whole Hearted Child
- The Mission of Motherhood
- Different - The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and The Mom Who Loved Him
- For the Children's Sake