Dear Homeschool Mamas... Stop Freaking Out

I'm a complete mama blog addict. I also love the way social media connects us all. It is just so cool that you all let me into your brains and homes to look around. My world feels much more normal when I have the chance to look at yours. Not that you're all crazy or anything... I simply mean that sometimes I feel like we're crazy here and you've convinced me that either we're all normal or all crazy together.

Anyway, the point of this post is to give some of you a little homeschooling pep talk because, as I poke around,  I'm seeing a LOT of this...

"Well, here we go! I've got 8 hours a day of 17 subjects planned for my two-year old. Our first day was so tiring and I'm afraid I just can't do this for long. How am I going to teach him calculus and woodcarving while still making sure he has adequate socialization?"


"Our first week with our 5-year old went great! She's going to be ready for Harvard in no time. But I'm concerned because I have 12 more children under the age of 4 and I never get any sleep or have time to brush my teeth. I'm not sure homeschooling is for us."

Now... The official pep talk (with some serious straight talk):

You are going about this the wrong way. Stop it. If you continue this way, you will burn out before next week and convince yourself you are a failure. If your kids are under the age of 6, they really don't need a huge formal curriculum. Get your sleep. Let them play. Hug them. Read to them. Pray with them. Teach them to read well. Get some more sleep. Everything will be fine.

If they are ready for more formal lessons, homeschooling does not have to look like institutional schooling. In fact, it shouldn't look like it. It's not it. You will also never be a perfect teacher. Let it go. It's not about you anyway. Let's get our egos out of the way and let the children grow and learn.

If the super formalized homeschool curriculum providers are giving you anxiety attacks, stop using them. Homeschooling goes a lot better when the system matches the mother's personality. (Full disclosure: If I used a super-structured program like Seton, I'd be on meds within a month and my kids would be in school.) Know yourself. Know your kids.

Why are you homeschooling? Figure it out and write it down. Read a few more good homeschooling books.  And remember that the institutional school system was not designed specifically for your children but for masses of children all together at the same time. You don't have to have a blackboard. You don't have to have desks. You don't need cutesy charts for your walls. Your kids won't become stupid if they miss a week or three of math. And you don't need to know everything in order for your kids to learn. I am living proof.

So there it is. Stop freaking out. It's only August.  You're giving me anxiety attacks and we haven't even started school yet here.

Stop acting like your kids' future happiness rests on whether you had an easy day of it or not. Stop buying into the madness that education is mostly about the teacher's abilities. It is impossible to teach what a student will not learn. A home educating mother's job is not about stuffing knowledge into someone else's brain (impossible, by the way), it is really about creating an environment that helps a student say YES to learning. There is no checklist in the world that can accomplish that.

Stop expecting good things to come easy. Parents don't get a break from the hard stuff until heaven. God gives consolations and "easy" breaks according to His pleasure. Aside from those times (which we have no control over), we should expect to work hard, giving thanks and praise, awash in graces, and carrying our crosses.

When you said yes to homeschooling, you said yes to parenting full time. Expecting the majority of the time spent homeschooling to be smooth and easy is like expecting a money tree to grow in the yard when the bills pile up. Ain't happenin'.

So to those of you who have had a bear of a first week and want to know what you are doing wrong, I'll tell you: Nothing. Because sacrificial love and parenting are just plain hard. Is it worth it? If I didn't think so, I wouldn't bother with this post. I'd just let you wallow in your misery until you quit. But it IS worth it. And my final advice to you is....

Acknowledge the bitterness of the hard stuff, say a prayer, and press on. Joy will catch up with you shortly.

Some of my favorite homeschooling books are listed HERE.

Posted on August 30, 2013 and filed under "home education".