Finding Ideas, Not Discouragement

With the renaissance of homeschooling in the early 1980s came a trickle, and then a flood, of books and magazines about homeschooling.

These were eagerly read by homeschooling parents wanting to know how others were teaching their children, because there weren’t many homeschoolers around to talk with.

Today, reading about how other families homeschool their children is almost too easy. There are more magazines and books than ever, plus countless blogs on the Internet where parents reveal every last detail of their homeschooling journeys, or so it seems.

There’s a very real danger here, however. With so much personal revelation out there, it’s way too easy to compare your family and your homeschooling experience to others. This is not a good thing!

You can always find someone whose homeschooling experience sounds far more successful than your own. It’s way too tempting to think, “We have so many struggles, and after reading about this family, it’s obvious that I’m in over my head in this homeschooling thing. Her kids are doing so many wonderful projects, and I have to fight to get mine away from the video games to do anything. I give up!”

The fact is that every family is different, and no family can imitate another and come up with the same results. It’s not fair to compare another family to yours: different kids, different parents, different financial situations.

When you read about other homeschooling families, try to think about which of their ideas would work for your family instead of imitating everything they do in a misguided attempt to “succeed.”

Besides, homeschooling success is defined in many different ways. For one child, it’s getting to college on a full scholarship. For another, it’s making his or her way in the world on their own. For a few, like my teenage son, it’s functioning to the best of your abilities despite multiple disabilities.

So go ahead, read all the homeschooling books and magazines and surf homeschoolers’ blogs. Visit the Carnival of Homeschooling each week. Glean as many great ideas as you think might work for your family. Discard those that turn out to be wrong for your family. And always keep in mind that there’s no one right way to homeschool. The beauty of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each family, each child, and each parent.

9 thoughts on “Finding Ideas, Not Discouragement

  1. Amen to that. I find I am very hard on myself. I am always blaming myself when my son can’t do this or has a hard time doing that, but other kids don’t seem too.

  2. Oh boy does that ring bells!! We have been homeschooling for less than a year, after pulling our son from public school… and it has been more downs than ups as we’ve tried to adapt to this new way of life. Only months before we pulled him from school, homeschooling was something I had thought I would NEVER be able to cope with. The idea of having my beloved, yet all-too-often-difficult-to-deal-wth child around ALL DAY scared the living daylights out of me.. no way could I cope with that! But problems at school led to it being the only choice, and the more I talked with a friend who has always homeschooled her kids and the more I researched homeschooling, the more I actually started getting excited about it!
    There have been many many times along the way where I have felt like a failure… where I have wondered if maybe it would be best to put him BACK into public school, that maybe I’m holding him back by trying to teach him on my own. My partner and our oldest don’t see eye-to-eye on most things, which causes a lot of aggrivation and means that I am his sole teacher. He fights lessons on everything, wants to do nothing with his day but read and play, lost in his own imagination (we have high suspiscions he has Asberger’s Syndrome). When I see/hear my friend, and others I’ve since met in the homeschooling community here, doing well.. their kids happy with homeschooling and learning heaps, I feel even more that I’m failing. After doing more research lately, I’d say that most of what we’ve done in the last few months has been more classed as “deschooling”, and now I’m trying the Unschooling side of things. We have only just started it this week.. letting him guide his learning, but still trying to get him to understand that his days can’t be spent just playing, that there has to be at least SOME learning in there somewhere. He currently has a fascination with anything and everything Egyptian, plus enjoys science, anything “crafty”, building things with Lego, drawing, and reading.. so I’m now trying to use these interests to guide his learning and actually get him WANTING to learn. I’ve realised the important thing for him is not WHAT he learns, but more teaching him HOW to learn, how to make learning fun.. to give him the drive to teach himself, as that is a skill he will need in the adult world. I still worry that others will see it as “wasting” our day (especially my mum and grandparents who think he should be in public school and that I should be working, and my partner as he feels that “schoolwork” = “bookwork”, and anything else is just playing or mucking around), and that he won’t be learning enough or keeping up with where he should be for his age (he’s just gone 9 years old)… but I’m trying NOT to worry about that as much as I was, and trying not to compare him with other homeschooled kids.
    In some ways I’m loving this “adventure”.. in other ways I still find it scares me. *sighs*

    I’m sorry for having waffled on for so long.. lol.. but thank you for your post. It has again reminded me to stop comparing, and just work on what suits OUR family best. 🙂

  3. Well said! This applies with parenting, our Christian walk, etc., too. We need to find where we are supposed to be. And stay there:) Easier said than done, but a balanced mindset like yours, Barb, is the way to go.

  4. Kristy, comparing ourselves to others is a sure source of unhappiness, either our own or others! God gave your son to you, and He’ll equip you to teach him what he needs to know 🙂

    Terry, thanks for being so honest with your comment. I know there are others who will be helped by it! I’ve learned from watching other homeschooling parents (my kids were always homeschooled) that when you pull a child out of school to homeschool him, you have to “deprogram” him first. It’s hard to get reacquainted with freedom! And if your son truly does have Asperger’s, your job is harder yet even more important. Hang in there, and know that there are those who’ve done what you’re doing and are very glad they did.

    Karen, good point…..and yes, it is easier said than done, isn’t it? 🙂

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  6. So true. Another thing to remember is that what people blog is (generally) the best they have to offer. I’m a prime example; I don’t blog the bad days, the unfinished projects, the disasters. So it may look one way at my home if you visit my blog, but real life is much more balanced. But who wants to read the bad stuff? I stick with the good stuff and leave the negative to your imagination. The problem lies when readers assume there IS NO bad stuff. WRONG.
    “Godliness with contentment” — that’s where the victorious living lies.

  7. I agree….I tend to post mostly the good stuff. Why do I want to share that my 6 yr old refuses to do any work I give him? I want to share ideas and good, helpful things. But I do have to push aside my own thoughts when browsing others’ blogs….I *know* they are sharing their good days too.

  8. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling of being in over our heads, and not coming up to the standards fellow homeschoolers seem to set. Thanks so much for this post & reminding us to measure ourselves against ourselves.


  9. Jimmie and Sarah, I’m not sure all homeschooling parents realize that such bloggers are sharing only their good days. I meet many who feel like failures after reading posts like those. I keep them in mind when I write, which is why I share our imperfections in my book 🙂

    Ruby, you’re welcome 🙂

    Thanks, all, for weighing in!

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