I wrote this post in 2016 when I was new to blogging and homeschool. After rereading it and making a few revisions, I wanted to share it on this particular platform because I believe it’s important to write about homeschool from all angles—and not just from the Instagram-perfect lens.
True, homeschool is pretty awesome. But I think every homeschool parent has an expectations-versus-reality type of moment. You know, when you kind of feel betrayed because all those social media influencers made homeschooling seem like a Mary Poppins sequel, but then you discover it’s no walk in the park? Well, perhaps it is a walk in Jurassic Park, hehe.
I’m here for you.
Today, I’m going to share ten wakeup calls that I’ve experienced as a new homeschool mom. Now that I’m nearing the end of my fourth year, I must say it was pretty interesting to revisit this topic. At first, I feared this post was too negative. However, I’ve come to realize there’s nothing negative about seeing things for what they are. And there’s certainly nothing negative about personal growth and sharing that growth with others.
So, here it is:
10 Wake-up Calls That Rudely Awakened This Homeschool Mom
1. Expectation—My kids will perform three grade-levels ahead.
Wake-up Call—I’m feeding my ego.
I admit to being easily impressed by homeschool families who managed to do incredible things. When I read stories about teens who earned early college enrollment or admission to Ivy League schools, I wanted that to be my boys in the future. The problem with this frame of thinking was it changed the environment of our homeschool. We went from having fun to doing drills, and I became obsessed with keeping my boys ahead academically.
I’m all for preparing my kids for the absolute best, but something had to give. Everyone was frustrated! I had to ask myself a valid question; who am I really doing this for? The difficult truth was it wasn’t entirely for my boys. Compliments like, “they’re so smart for their age,” really fed my ego. I had to humble myself and make some changes to their curriculum that were more developmentally appropriate.
2. Expectation—My kids are smarter because they’re homeschooled.
Wake-up Call—My kids are not superior.
Can I be real? It took me a while to let go of the notion that my kids are academically superior just because they’re homeschooled (Don’t condemn me. It’s flawed thinking that has since been corrected). Unfortunately, though, some homeschool parents haven’t gotten the memo, as academic superiority seems to be a primary topic of conversation in many homeschool groups and forums.
But who cares? I understand the desire for our children to excel, but why is it necessary to compare their intelligence to that of another human being? These days, I teach my boys the only person they need to be better than is the person they were yesterday. That doesn’t mean I don’t challenge them or encourage them to work diligently. It just means I’m not setting them up to adopt a practice that is notorious for being the “thief of joy”—comparison.
3. Expectation—Academics come first.
Wake-up Call—My kids have needs outside academics.
There are many life skills and principles my boys need to learn that, in my eyes, are just as important to master as academics. Things like riding a bike without training wheels, tying their own shoes, coordination, discipline, and so much more. My husband and I had to become just as intentional about teaching these things as we are about teaching core subjects. And where we fall short, we’ve learned the relief that comes with investing in an instructor who can help our children master the skills and principles we value.
4. Expectation—All Homeschool groups are welcoming.
Wake-up Call—Finding the right homeschool group is challenging.
Before we started homeschooling, I pictured other homeschool parents embracing me and my children with open arms. I pictured being a part of a community dedicated to giving our children a phenomenal education and awesome social opportunities. I pictured how easy it would be to connect and build friendships with people who were on the same journey.
Sadly, this hasn’t been the case.
I can’t emphasize enough how challenging it was—and still is—to find a homeschool group where I feel like we truly belong. If it’s not one thing that sets us apart, it’s another. Not only are we one of the few black homeschool families in our community, but we are also not native to Middle Georgia. The great news is, after a few years, I’ve made at least two solid connections with other moms and the outlook is promising.
5. Expectation—I will shrug off the naysayers.
Wake-up Call—My skin isn’t as tough as I think.
I’m proud of my decision to homeschool, but there are moments when my confidence waivers. Those are the moments I allow the voices of other people to get inside my ear; voices that tell me my curriculum isn’t good enough, that homeschool is for weirdos, or that black people should never homeschool. I got knocked down so many times and continue to get knocked down. Developing tough skin is a process, but it’s happening. Each day I get a little tougher.
6. Expectation—Homeschoolers are a Kum ba yah community.
Wake-up Call—The community is divided.
Should I choose the Charlotte Mason or self-directed learning method? A five-hundred dollar curriculum or a DIY curriculum? Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks their method is best. Parents who choose to DIY are criticized for not investing in their children’s education. Parents who practice self-directed learning are criticized for not taking their children’s education seriously.
There’s a war going on in some of these social media comment sections, and frankly, it’s appalling. I thought the homeschool community was full of unity and love, but I’ve discovered it can be just as divided as the rest of the world when our egos enter into the mix. Thankfully, I finally stumbled upon some great communities where none of this drama takes place.
7. Expectation—We’ll do all our learning in the homeschool room.
Wake-up Call—Homeschool is better outside the home.
That’s right! Our classroom gets very little use these days. The more we get out, go on field trips, and engage in extracurricular activities, the better the homeschool experience is for the entire family.
Of course there are times when classroom work is necessary, but no one wants to be in the house all day, every day. I learned it’s really important to, at the very least, schedule my boys to have outdoor time every single day (weather permitted). I’d venture to say that planning field trips and outings should take just a much effort as researching what curriculum we’ll use for the year.
8. Expectation—I don’t have to worry about socialization.
Wake-up Call—Socialization should not be disregarded.
I know this is a touchy subject for some. I’ve heard, and often made the same argument, that by definition, fellowshipping with family members counts as socialization. While this may be true (socializing is socializing), I will venture to say that for MY kids, they need a bit more. Here’s why:
- First, my kids need a break from each other! Enrolling them in separate extracurricular classes and activities gives them that much-needed break.
- Second, my kids love hanging out with other kids. Yes, having a full-blown conversation with the cashier at the local grocery store counts as socialization, but my children crave to be with other children!
- Third, my kids need exposure to people who are different from them. I’ve seen what it looks like when children are only surrounded by their own kind and it’s not a pretty picture. We’ll leave it there.
9. Expectation—I will never use assessments on my children.
Wake-up Call—Assessments are not the Devil.
Some homeschool methods feel strongly against any type of assessment. While I agree that assessments don’t always accurately measure knowledge, I personally like to know where my child stands in each subject so that I can see which areas need work. In other words; the assessments are for me, not the child. They are the red flags that alert me if I need to slow down, speed up, hire a tutor, change the curriculum, or keep up the good work.
Of the three types of assessments, I primarily (though not exclusively) use the formative version because it’s the most flexible. Examples of formative assessments we use in our homeschool are interactive discussions and oral/written quizzes. This type of assessment has worked for my boys because it is more lax, allows for immediate feedback, and has improved their knowledge retention and overall academic performance.
10. Expectation—All homeschool kids are just as awesome as statistics suggest.
Wake-up Call—All homeschool kids aren’t poster children.
Like public school, some homeschoolers fall through the cracks. The problem is, there’s no way to actually determine that percentage because these kids are either invisible or are eventually enrolled in public school (which would then count them as a public school student when measuring statistics). In other words, homeschool doesn’t guarantee success.
I know, I know—it’s touchy.
The reality is, while there are some homeschool teens successfully attending college at the age of sixteen, homeschool is no guarantee that your child will be college-ready any more than the public school can make that same guarantee. At the end of the day, it’ll all boil down to commitment.
Before I end this post, I just want to note that this post isn’t meant to discourage newbie homeschoolers. Rather, I hope that you’re able to form a more realistic picture of homeschool. The important thing to note here is that it’s okay to try new methods and do things YOUR way—even if it goes against popular opinion.
I’d be interested to know how your views of homeschool have changed over the years. Let me know in the comments below!