When I first chose homeschooling, my biggest hurdles to overcome were all of my fears. Looking back on it all, my biggest homeschooling fears were things that I barely even think about anymore. After homeschooling for quite a few years now, I have overcome all (or most) of them completely. I know most people choosing to homeschool struggle with many of these same fears, so I thought I would touch on them and how I got past them. Maybe it will address one of your biggest fears and help you in your choice to homeschool your kids.
My Homeschooling Fears:
Fear of What Others Think
As silly as this sounds, my fear of what others would think was probably my biggest fear to overcome right from the very start. I remember worrying about what everyone thought all the time. I had a sister who really didn’t agree with my choice, so that worried me a lot. I worried about telling friends & neighbors, about what to say at the doctor’s office, in the store, etc… It was mostly the worry of everyone thinking we were strange, or doing the wrong thing. I think my insecurities were because it was so new and I was still slightly uncomfortable with the whole thing. After years of homeschooling my kids, this fear is gone. I am actually quite proud of my choice to homeschool my kids now. I don’t care what others think anymore because I have come to the realization that this is the right thing for me and my family. It has been a good choice for us and I really enjoy it. I no longer fear that awkward moment when I tell the person in the grocery store that we homeschool and that is why my kids are ALL with me today. People are all very respectful of my choice and are even impressed (at least they pretend to be!).
Fear of Doing it Wrong
I spent so much time learning about all of the different homeschooling methods. I wanted to make sure I did it the right way from the start. I wanted to make sure I was homeschooling the right way. What if I chose the wrong kind of math curriculum for my son and he didn’t learn fast enough or wasn’t smart enough. What if I didn’t teach my kids the same things that the kids in public school were learning? What if I didn’t do enough? There seemed to be so many things that I could do wrong.
I overcame this fear when I had a complete mind shift. Wrong according to who? Our society has a lot of pre-set notions that we feel we need to live up to. I realized that my choice to homeschool meant I was putting my children’s education into my hands. I know my children the best out of anyone else. The choices I make for their education are what I feel will help them the most. This doesn’t mean that I do thing perfectly and have not made mistakes along the way. I have definitely made mistakes, but I learn from them and grow from them. There have been curriculum choices that haven’t fit well with our family, but we move on and try something new. The many options and flexibility are really the VERY best part of homeschooling. There are so many wonderful ways to learn in this world. Enjoy it!
Fear of Not Knowing Enough
I did really well in school. I was always in advanced or A.P. classes. I graduated from college with honors. I even have a degree in education and taught school for several years. Even with all of that, I felt somewhat inadequate when I chose to start homeschooling. What if I didn’t know enough math or science? How would I teach math to my kids when I HATED it in school? I don’t have a great memory and don’t remember everything I learned in school.
Something I learned and LOVE is that now I get to learn right along with my kids! I have always really enjoyed learning and love the new things I continue to learn as I am teaching my kids. It is a wonderful thing to be able to continue expanding my mind right along with my kids. The other very enlightening thing is that I can take it one year at a time. I started homeschooling one child who was 5 years old. Kindergarten is very do-able! I knew enough to teach my kindergartner. The next year I realized I could also very easily teach first grade. Each year I feel more confident and more capable of teaching my kids. I also feel more confident in my knowledge and abilities.
Fear of Not Having Enough Patience or Energy
When I tell people that I homeschool, one of the biggest comments I hear is “Wow! You must be really patient! I could never stand to be around my kids ALL day!” I am definitely not always patient. I loose my cool a lot. I yell at my kids. I get frustrated with them all the time. I also have many days when I do not have the energy to do all that I wanted to do. I have to push myself just like I have to push my kids at times. Homeschooling is not always a pretty picture in our house. I will be completely honest in that fact. I want you to know that you are not alone if you feel tired, or frustrated. Those are the days that I change things up or take things easier. I have to remind myself that if they were enrolled in school, they would have days when they did less or learned less. There are days when LeapFrog or The Magic School Bus have to teach my kids and that is perfectly O.K.
Fear of not being creative enough
If you spend much time online looking for fun educational ideas, you will begin to feel really inadequate. I am a crafty person, but just because I sometimes enjoy it that doesn’t mean that I ALWAYS want to do big creative projects every day. Creativity takes a lot of energy and usually makes a mess! If you are not a crafty person you may think you are not creative enough to be a homeschool mom. Don’t compare yourself. Think of your strengths and work with them. School is not all about crafts and creativity. There are so many different ways to learn. Plan a regular time for a creative project (monthly or weekly). Don’t ever feel like it has to be an every day thing. It is perfectly normal for most days to just be regular old school days.
Fear of “ruining your kids”
I was so worried that my choice to homeschool my kids would just ruin them for society. They would never fit in and would be labeled as the weird ones forever more. I worried that they would miss out on all of those things that “regular” school kids would do like riding the bus, going to prom, going to a science fair, attending graduation, etc. I still think about those things fondly in my past and feel a touch of sadness that my children will not have those experiences. I worry that it will make them not fully understand the society we live in if they are not participating in those activities. I guess this fear is less of a fear because I see how beautifully my children are turning out despite not being in school. I know now that they are not being ruined by missing out on a few trivial events. I see the wonderful traits they do have and no longer fear ruining them. There are times when I have to explain certain things to my kids (like a cafeteria or school bells) but really, they are surviving just fine without them!
Fear of not enough Social interaction
Socialization always seems to be the biggest worry and question from others about homeschool. Will your kids have friends? Will they be the odd balls because they don’t know how to interact with people? Don’t think for a minute that because you are homeschooling, your kids will never interact with others. Homeschooling is NOT just sitting around in our house day after day and week after week. Since we started, I have always been involved in a homeschool co-op with many wonderful families that we have become good friends with. Out state and city have so many activities for homeschoolers that more often that not I have to say no to more things than I can say yes to. My kids get more than enough socialization in their lives. They have lots of good friends. We also attend church and different clubs and lessons. I do not feel like my kids are lacking in this area at all. They are very much capable of making friends and interacting with all of the “regular kids” in this world! Homeschoolers spend more time in the real world learning. They are not in classrooms all day, they are learning from real life and gaining more socialization to this world than most kids.
Fear of not doing well in college
While we are still many years from worrying about college, it is a fear in the back of my mind. Will my kids know enough to do well in college? Will they be able to get in? Last year I attended a local event that featured kids who were homeschooled through high school and were either applying for college or already attending college. These kids were some of the brightest most accomplished kids I have ever seen. I was so impressed with their knowledge and their poise. These kids graduated from high school at 16 and were working on college courses already. They were intelligent and articulate. They were studying what they loved. They were teaching classes to younger kids. Their experiences and accomplishments really inspired me and helped me to see what can be done. It took those fears away from me and helped me see that their are so many possibilities. A higher percentage of homeschoolers vs. public schooled kids graduate from college. Statistics tend to show that homeschooled kids do better on standardized tests, do better in college socially and academically. The odds are in their favor.
Are you still afraid? Sometimes all it takes is just taking the leap and starting out. The first day my son did not get on the school bus his kindergarten year will forever be in my memory. I was afraid, but I also felt SO free!! You can do it & you and your children will succeed!