No Fear Homeschooling: Have The Courage to Be Different

Dropping my daughter off at public school Kindergarten left me feeling sick, helpless, and alone. I drove away from  school that day, with a throng of parents who had just chosen the EXACT SAME PATH for their child.

Why did I feel so alone?

Something was nagging at me. Maybe it was the industrial-looking cubbies with the children's names written on them. Perhaps it was being ushered out of the school quickly as if I was an unwanted guest. Or maybe it was the fear that she wouldn't be put on the correct bus to be delivered home that afternoon. 

{That fear came true a few weeks later, but that's a story for another day.}

No Fear Homeschool: Have The Courage to Be Different

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Lacking Courage

Eight years ago I was a mom that lacked COURAGE.

In fact, I lacked courage for the next three years of my daughter's life. I sat by and watched as she was put through "gifted and talented" testing and told (to her face) that she wasn't gifted. I watched the librarian tell her she could only choose books from a certain section of the library because those books were at her "level". And I watched her fall asleep each night as I read beautiful literature to her (because I couldn't stand the textbook junk she was getting during the day).

I grew a backbone during third grade.

It was parent-teacher conference time. The teacher's words to me were: "Anna is a lovely girl. She is by no means 'gifted", but she is so willing to please and I think this will take her far."  What kind of a year would my daughter be having with a teacher that had such low expectations of her?

(Keep in mind, I have a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision. Having a teacher on your staff that speaks like this to a parent is unacceptable. I spoke with the principal, but she didn't find it to be a problem. I think my knowledge of the "system" was threatening to her.)

My husband and I pulled her out of school the following week and we have never looked back.

I wish, when my children were pre-school age, that I had had the courage to be different. I wish I had chosen to walk the homeschool path.

I always have asked God to direct me where my children were concerned, but why didn't I respond? 

I want to shout from the rooftops why we now love homeschooling, and shake all of those moms that come to me with EXCUSES about why they can't homeschool. 

Stop Telling Me Why You Can't Homeschool!

No Fear

Your children are so much more important than your pride, your free time, or what your friends and relatives think.  They are more important than a second income (and by the way, I figured out a way to work at home when we started homeschooling), fancy cars, a big mortgage, or a yearly vacation to the beach. They are more important than cultivating your own personal hobbies or having "me time".

Having the courage to be different requires sacrifice and great personal examination.

Having the courage to homeschool requires you place fear aside (or confront it head on).  

  • My child won't have any friends.
  • How will I know what they need to learn?
  • My child won't listen to me; but they will listen to a "teacher".
  • They won't be able to participate in extracurricular sports.
  • How will they get into college?
  • How will I socialize them?
  • What will I DO with them all day?

The list could go on and on....

Advice for My Younger Self

I'm thankful we have been homeschooling my daughter since  third grade. My son has never been to traditional school. We have become part of a large homeschooling community in our area where we find support and encouragement on a daily basis. Some of my closest friends are homeschoolers, and as each year goes by homeschool feels more like what we have "always done" instead of a choice we made five years ago.

Still, however, I have some advice for my younger self - and maybe some of it can apply to YOU. I constantly remind myself of these things.

Take it for what it's worth. I'm  a homeschool mom that has traveled the path of self-discovery the past five years. 

1. Approval is overrated. Live according to the Bible, and seek to please God, your husband and children. Be very careful about who you confide in and take advice from. Less is more.

2. You have what it takes. If you are willing to learn, love your child, and can model inquisitiveness, your can homeschool your child. You do NOT need a math degree for your child to learn upper level math. You do NOT need fancy lab equipment to teach science. Be confident that your child is getting exactly what they need from you, and that God fills in the "gaps".

3. Choose your activities carefully. Many groups  aren't homeschool friendly. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not just an educational choice. This may mean  you will be the only mom on the baseball team that isn't in favor of playing travel ball. It might mean you look at the youth program in your church with more of a critical eye. It isn't always popular to have your children involved in just one activity, or maybe none. Have the courage to do what is best for YOUR CHILDREN. 

4. Prepare to be misunderstood/excluded. I am the type of person who has always craved approval. I'm getting over that rather quickly. So much of what a homeschool parent does on a daily basis isn't seen by others. You will not be able to volunteer for everything - but people will think you are "home all day" and why can't you help? You will be in a social gathering of adults and (unless they are homeschoolers) sometimes you feel left out of the conversation. I've learned that this is OK. We are forging a bold path for our families that doesn't make sense to some. Have the courage to stay on that path! 

5. Don't stress so much. Your children are young for such a brief time. Embrace the wonder in the elementary years. Read good books, go on nature walks, take field trips. Be silly. You are cultivating a precious spirit - that is homeschooling. Don't put grades in a grade book when they are little. Don't give them a standardized test (unless you have to).

Homeschooling Advice for My Younger Self

And by all means - don't make them read boring textbooks!

These books in particular have helped me along this homeschool journey. It's important to surround yourself with as much encouragement as you can get - on many days a book at the end of the day is my best friend!

What about YOU?  Do you have any advice for your younger homeschooling (or maybe wanna be homeschooling) self?   



How I Shelter My Children



The topic of homeschool and socialization is quite honestly boring. 

I've heard it all.

Won't your homeschooled children be unsocialized?

Do you think you are preparing them for the real world?

Children need to go to school to learn how to "socialize".

You can't shelter them forever.

What I realize now is that these criticisms aren't mean spirited or malicious. They are simply the wonderings of misinformed or uniformed people who have trouble keeping their opinions to themselves. 

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