Homeschooling definitely is a challenge. It also is not for everyone. I firmly believe that the Lord calls those he will to homeschool, and gives them everything they need to tap into to complete the task. He who called you is faithful, He will do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Growing up in a homeschool family, I thought it was a great way to be educated. Most of our school was completed in the first half of the morning, leaving us free to explore, read, and as we go older, work on a flexible schedule on our own “businesses” (housecleaning, daycare, office jobs, etc.).
I was completely oblivious to the questions people ask and concerns they have when someone broaches the topic of homeschooling. But once I delved into the realm of homeschooling our own children, more and more fears began to surface. Over the years, I’ve had an opportunity to address a lot of these fears in our own homeschool journey, and though the answers may not be the same for everyone, I have found that in a large part, they are.
I asked a number of homeschool moms – from moms of 8 with high school graduates and grandchildren now homeschooling, to moms currently in the throes of all grade levels from preschool to high school, to moms just finishing their first year, and others just venturing out into homeschooling – what their biggest fears are or were. And, for the most part, we are all on the same page, and we have all had the same fears. I am so grateful the Lord has placed people in our lives who have loved, encouraged and prayed for us along the way. These questions, fears and answers are not meant to judge or make you feel guilty, but to offer encouragement, and a bit of an understanding that you are not alone!
Fears are not wrong – it’s what we do with them that counts. They’re a great tool to help us examine ourselves and see where we need to be watching for weaknesses and working harder in some areas. I pray you are encouraged by these, some of your
Homeschool Fears Addressed
1. How will I ever be able to manage my home and teach 5 different grade levels at the same time as caring for a newborn?
This is something I didn’t really think about until we were at 3 kids and 3 grades. By then we were already doing a lot of “group learning“. And that, really, is one of the biggest blessings I have found in homeschooling! Learning together and older ones helping younger ones has been fun and stretching for each of us. Obviously not every subject can be done this way, but for ones like science, history and read alouds, it’s a great way to spend time together. You can vary the assignments so they are more or less challenging depending on the ages involved.
Another option is to enroll your children in some online virtual classes for some subjects (check out our review of Bridgeway Academy) or a co-op program.
Train your children from a young age to help around the home. Currently, our 3 eldest do most of the daily housework, freeing me up to focus on lessons, meals, and having a bit of fun. The training early on is totally worth it!
Get outside help! A mother’s helper, a friend, family member – it’s ok to ask for help! Whether you have 2 or 10, there will always be challenges you face in a day or week to get things done. Allow others to be a servant and don’t try to get it all done on your own.
2. How can I afford not to work while homeschooling?
Financial concerns are often a big fear, especially for families used to living on 2 incomes. However, remember, if God has called you to it, he will do it! He will make a way. This doesn’t mean you can go buying up the most expensive homeschool curriculum and sign the kids up for every class available. You still need to make wise financial decisions. And most definitely, you need a budget!
Buy used curriculum, share with others, buy programs in bulk and you will often save. Use books from the library, hit up garage sales or online book sales. There are many ways to homeschool on the frugal and even free side! (Stay tuned – there’s a post coming up on this one!).
Remember, honour the Lord in your finances (including and most importantly your tithes!) and He will supply all your needs.
3. I am not smart enough to teach my child.
Now that, my dear friend, is a big, fat lie. You already are your child’s best teacher, and the best mom for your kids! They watch you, model you, love you, want to follow you. You literally hold them in the palm of your hands and are in the best position to mould their lives for eternity.
The biggest lesson I have learned over the past 6 years of homeschooling is that it’s not about education. Say that with me: Homeschooling is NOT about education. (Dear Mom Who’s Considering Homeschooling)
It’s about discipleship. It’s about the heart of the matter – shaping their lives in the word of God for eternity.
Now, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook and can go off on totally and completely unrelated tangents. You still need to prepare them for life in the real world, giving them the tools they need to honour the Lord in their life decisions and careers (should they choose one). But the end goal isn’t straight A’s or a genius child. The end goal is a child equipped with the life transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, ready, willing and able to defend their faith and serve the Lord, and others. That, my friend, is a lifelong mission.
You may not be an expert on science or a whiz at math – but that’s why they write homeschool curriculum teacher manuals :D I highly recommend Cathy Duffy’s 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Each Child’s Learning Style. This helped me to determine how I teach and how my kids learn, finding curriculum that goes along with those styles.
You will be learning a lot alongside your children, but they will also learn to become independent learners. Plus, once you get into the higher grades (should you choose to continue homescoholing), there are a lot of options for virtual classes and online schools.
Just remember, if God has called you, He has already equipped you!
4. What if my kids are lonely? Bored? What if I’M lonely or bored? What about socialization?
To be honest, I have heard the words “I’m bored” less than a handful of times in 6 years of homeschooling. Now, that may just be my kids, but they are certainly kept busy most of the day!
That isn’t to say they are doing school for 8 hours, as if they were in a classroom. Homeschool days look very different from classrooms, and it isn’t meant to be “school at home” (again, it’s about their hearts!). But we do accomplish a lot in less time, and that does leave time for playing, reading, helping around the home, and yes, even errands!
Though you may think your kids will be bored having you as a teacher, or that you may struggle with keeping their interest, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you can cater to interests a little. Say someone wants to take the animals off the calendar for each month and learn about them (yes, my kids’ idea :D). Get books from the library, do a unit study, go see them at the zoo. The world of imagination is at your fingertips! Whether you’re a “teacher type” or not, all it takes is a little one’s question or idea to get the ball rolling and ideas flowing and you’re on your way to a fun homeschool adventure.
Have confidence in the abilities God has given you – strengths and weaknesses can and will all be used for his glory!
If you’re afraid your kids will be isolated from others, that’s a thing! It means you’ll do what it takes to stay connected to your community. Enroll the kids in summer VBS, invite friends over, attend an Awana program and Sunday School; take swimming lessons, or other sports, find a co-op group that meets on a regular basis. Start or attend a mom’s bible /book study or group in your area where you can connect with other homeschool or Christian moms. There are plenty of options for “socialization”, both for kids and moms.
But stop for a minute – the question of “what about socialization?” is a big one everyone seems to ask homeschooling families first. Why is socialization the main concern? Our goal is the training of their hearts and lives, not making sure they’re socializing and spending time with other people. Though socialization isn’t a bad thing, it’s not the goal, nor ever has it really been a concern for our family (we have had plenty of opportunities to meet with others) Remember, we aren’t trying to do “school at home” – it’s not going to look the same. It’s about their hearts turning to Christ.
5. I have a baby/toddler (or both). I can’t homeschool!
My friend, I am right in the middle of this one with you. This has been one of the toughest challenges for me homeschooling. It is hard – but it is not impossible! (I wrote about it, a few times :D I hear your cries and feel your pain! But it CAN be done! Homeschooling with a New Baby and Homeschooling with a Baby guest post on Mercy is New).
What I have learned is that it’s ok to not teach every subject, all the time. It’s ok to let the kids teach themselves and learn on their own, and encourage the older ones to help with teaching the younger. It’s ok that our books are not all finished at the end of the school year, or their lessons completed by the end of the day, or the house isn’t perfect. Let. It. Go.
Some things may need to be modified if you are homeschooling with a baby or toddler (or both!). And that’s ok. There are busy seasons in life, they don’t last forever, and things improve.
Get some outside help, involve daddy in the lessons more, combine some subjects, and definitely don’t try to do everything every day! They will still receive a well-rounded education, and love and guidance from their parents.
I hope this has been an encouragement to you. What are some of your biggest homesechool fears that God has answered?
Check out these other great posts from iHomeschool Network bloggers on why they can’t homeschool.