If you’ve been homeschooling for any length of time, you know that it comes with its own set of pressures. Choosing a homeschool philosophy, curriculum, how you structure your day, and outside activities can all bring out very strong opinions amongst homeschoolers. Those are the external pressures. There are also internal pressures. Let’s look at some of the external and internal pressures homeschoolers often experience. Then we’ll explore a few ideas for saying “no” to homeschool pressures.
External Homeschool Pressures
We’ve all experienced the external homeschool pressures. Which ones below apply to you?
Family and Friends
These can fall either way. They can be the people who secretly want you to fail because they think homeschooling is the most ridiculous idea ever and you are going to ruin your child. Or they can be the people who put pressure on you to be absolutely perfect and, in turn, try to put pressure on your children to perform whenever you are around them.
Competitive and Helicopter Homeschool Moms
Think competitive and helicopter moms only exist in the public and private schools? Think again. Competitive moms and helicopter moms exist in the homeschool world. They seem to especially like to hang out in online forums, Facebook pages and co-ops where they make sure everyone knows their child is the most awesome child ever and they are the best homeschool mom to ever walk the face of the earth.
These could be bloggers, people in your church, people in your co-op or anyone else who has determined exactly what is and is not acceptable for all homeschoolers. They will tell you the only acceptable way to homeschool (Charlotte Mason, Classical, unschool, etc.). They will make clear the only way to schedule your day. They will set up detailed plans of how you should run your home and homeschool because they have it all figured out. Woe be unto any newbie homeschooler who dares question what they say.
Homeschool Theological Know-it-alls
These folks take the know-it-all to the next level because they not only tell you how you should homeschool, but they present what they believe are air-tight cases from the Bible that prove their every point. They are especially adept at talking but not listening.
Large Family Advocates
For some reason, there is a vocal group of homeschoolers who think that Christian = large families. If you are a Christian and not homeschooling a large family you have totally missed the boat. They can be quite aggressive.
Although I think this has lessened in the past year or two, there has been a very vocal group of homeschoolers pushing for adoption, especially overseas adoption. And not just pushing. But basically saying if you don’t adopt an overseas child in need you must not love Jesus and you certainly aren’t following the directions from the Bible about caring for orphans. In this case, it is Christian = multiple overseas adoptions.
So we ultimately end up with Christian = homeschool a large family with multiple overseas adoptions.
When you are a Christian homeschooler with a large family that includes multiple overseas adoptions, you have pretty much reached the pinnacle of Christian homeschooling perfection.
(In which case I am a miserable failure with my home-grown only child.)
Internal Homeschool Pressures
The pressures aren’t limited to the external. Let’s face it. We put plenty of pressure on ourselves. What kinds?
Perfectionism and Procrastination
Many people who struggle with perfectionism are well aware of that trait in themselves. But did you know procrastination is a symptom of perfectionism for some people? Whichever end of the perfectionism spectrum you fall, perfectionism can be a huge internal pressure for homeschoolers.
Have you purchased the perfect curriculum? Maybe not? Better get a different one. Have you signed your kids up for the right number of activities? Should they do more? Less? Different ones? The list is endless of things homeschool parents can obsess over in their desire to give their children the best. homeschool. experience. EVER.
There isn’t a conscientious homeschooler alive who hasn’t been gripped by an overwhelming sense of fear at least one time.
Fear that we’re ruining our kids.
Fear that our kids won’t get what they need academically.
Fear we’re doing it all wrong.
Fear that people will find out your kids actually like learning with textbooks.
There’s a lot of things that could cause us to fear.
I’m personally convinced that being gripped by momentary fear at least once in a while is an indicator you are probably doing a good job. It means you sincerely care about your child’s education and that’s a good thing. But we should never live in fear.
Saying “No” to Homeschool Pressures
So how do we say no to these pressures? We do it by regularly reminding ourselves of these important truths.
Every Child is Different
This is the bottom line. Every single child is different. There is no one way to homeschool effectively. Period. Tell yourself that every day if you have to. The more we focus on the idea that every child is different and every homeschool experience should look different, the sooner the homeschool pressures will dissipate. Some children learn differently. Some children are right-brained. Every child has unique needs, including yours.
Every Family is Different
The only correct way to homeschool your family is the way that means your children learn and you have healthy relationships in your home. How you get that done is up to you. For us it has meant adjusting expectations even to the point of homeschooling in the afternoon instead of the morning.
It doesn’t matter a bit what Superstar Homeschool Mom at co-op is doing with her kids. They don’t live in your home. And God didn’t give your kids to her. He gave them to you.
Praying and Seeking Direction
Homeschooling your children is one of the biggest challenges you will probably undertake in your life. It’s a huge deal. So we should definitely be praying and seeking direction from the Holy Spirit as we plan, teach, and disciple our children. We can scour the internet for information, ask for input in forums, and try to reason it out on our own. But asking the Lord to direct our steps in the midst of it will bring the best results and the most confidence as we move forward.
This post is part of my 5 Days of Saying “No” series.