Homeschooling has its challenges no matter what. Even if your kids are healthy, non-special needs, and you have money, there will be difficult moments. Throw in anything else, and homeschooling can be extra tough. Every homeschooling parent will have days when they’re wondering if it’s the right decision.
I don’t have any remedy for the difficult parts. All kids are different, and all families are different. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and our own capacities for dealing with certain stuff. While some parents handle stress well, others might feel it’s not working.
Either way, it’s okay. None of it means we’re better or worse than anybody else. It just means our situations are different.
My husband reminded me about something that made me feel so much better that I thought I’d pass it on in case it helped anyone else. He reminded me that the public school down the street didn’t have one teacher. It has a huge staff, and every person working there supports each other. There are the teachers, but there’s also the principal, assistant principal, librarian, IEP specialists, nurse, cafeteria workers, and the janitor. There are people who order the books, pick out the curriculums, and there are people who continue to teach the teachers how to teach. Not to mention volunteers or tutors that come to help.
Granted, many homeschoolers don’t like how public school works for their children, and that’s why we’re not sending our kids there. But regardless of how you feel about them, you have to admit that there are a lot of people (usually good people!) working hard to try to teach and help the students.
And at home, there’s just me. There’s also my husband when he can help (and I’m lucky I have a husband that helps!), but I’m the main teacher, librarian, curriculum chooser, lesson planner, cafeteria worker, janitor, and occasionally nurse. And not to mention, I must also be a motivator, disciplinarian, appointment maker, calendar-keeper, chauffer, and don’t forget Mom.
I also have to teach myself how to teach. I have to figure out why something isn’t working and find something that does work. I rarely have the opportunity to speak to an expert. (And I’ve had experiences where the “experts” I did speak to were not helpful for my particular situation.)
Fortunately, I only have two students, but they are in different grades, and they have different learning styles. I still have to go through all the steps with each of them. I don’t get the advantage of teaching the same material year after year until I know it like the back of my hand. I always have to teach something new, and I always wonder if there’s a better resource or way to teach it. And since it’s impossible to teach everything, I have to decide what to teach and what not to teach. (That’s what worries me the most – the things I’m not teaching. Am I failing them?)
I’m not complaining. I actually love being a homeschool mom. I love planning lessons, shopping for materials, and I love learning with my kids. I feel like I’m finally getting a good education for myself! But I’m not saying everything is perfect or easy.
It’s hard for one or two parents to take on the role of what in our current society is usually left to an entire institution with a full staff and trained teachers. There was a time in history when all kids learned at home or on the farm, but today we have many more expectations for our children. They will become adults in a much different world, and they will need to find careers that will support them in a very competitive job market.
So if you’re feeling a lot of pressure as a homeschool parent, I think that’s normal, and if you’re having a hard day and wondering whether you’re doing it right, I’m here to tell you that you can give yourself a break. You’re taking on a lot. And you’re probably doing a much better job than you think you are.