“We are almost halfway into our third year as a homeschooling family. I made the decision while I was sitting watching my oldest sun swimming a gala.”
I had just listened to a podcast about education and the pieces all fell into place. I immediately sent my husband a message, saying: the kids would not be returning to school the following year.
IT WAS A DECISION I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD MAKE
I was that parent. You know the one: telling anyone who would listen that kids need to socialise, and school is the only place they can do that. I have always been a loyal supporter of education in the traditional sense. My mom was a teacher, and my aunt was a principal until earlier this year. My cousin was a teacher. So, you could say, the education system was a very big part of my life growing up.
But after having four kids in school for almost 13 years, I had reached a point of no return. I had spent many, many years sitting in front of teachers, therapists and principals fighting for my children. I was done.
At the time of my decision, Cameron was in Grade 10, Kiara was in Grade 9, Jack was in Grade 1 and Emma was still in pre-school. They were at four different schools: some public, some private but each with their own set of issues.
SO WHY DID I MAKE THIS DECISION?
Kiara’s schooling journey has not been easy, and she was facing resistance from her school about the subjects she wanted to choose. She is creative, and they were pushing her towards business subjects. Jack was deeply unhappy; he probably had the worst teacher we have ever had to endure. Emma was turning into a bully; she is super smart and was struggling to deal with kids her age and younger. Fortunately, her teacher identified this and helped where she could, but I foresaw years of battling teachers over this kid.
I made the decision in August of 2018 and spent the next four months learning as much as I could. I asked other homeschooling parents, I researched curricula, and I read a lot. I felt prepared and I knew in my heart that it was the right decision. Still, it was very scary.
Some homeschooling families knew before they even fell pregnant that this was the path for them. I did not have that conviction. I knew it was the path we had to follow but I was terrified. But we started anyway.
IT WAS A DISASTER
Those first two months saw so many tears of frustration. I messed up Kiara’s curriculum, Jack hated everything we did, and Emma didn’t want to do anything. We fought and we fought. I was about to send them back to school, feeling like I had failed. Thanks to the support of the homeschooling community, though, I pushed through and we now have our rhythm and wouldn’t do it any other way.
But there is still doubt. A lot of it.
HOW DID I DEAL WITH THIS DOUBT?
I think every parent has doubt: they may not admit it but the doubt is there. We just have to deal with it and manage it so that it does not consume us.
But how do we do that?
Firstly, talk. I have a very small group of close homeschooling friends who I can talk to about my doubts. I vent and rant and get it all out. Sometimes they offer advice but more often than not just talking about it helps, because I realise it is not such a big deal and that they are going through something similar.
Secondly, research. A lot of doubt comes from the unknown. When the doubt hits, I look at the reasons and then do as much research as I can – even when it is hard. Knowing is always better than not knowing; when you know what you are dealing with you can plan a way forward.
Thirdly, go back to your “why”. This is so important. On those tough days, remind yourself why you decided to start this journey. More often than not – when you focus on that reason – you will find your groove again.
And finally, take time out. The real beauty of homeschooling is that you are on your own timetable and – when you feel like you need to take a break – you can do just that. You can take a break, go away or just let everyone take time out for a while until you feel recharged and ready to carry on. Those days have become invaluable to me (and our family).
Doubt was a very huge part of our first year of homeschooling. Now, it is an exception and not the norm. If you are new to homeschooling and you are feeling unsure and uncertain… reach out to the homeschooling community, talk to someone.
They may not be able to solve everything but it will help you to get back on track.