Homeschool Mom Truths

10 Wake-up Calls That Rudely Awakened This Homeschool Mom

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.

Funny Homeschool Meme

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!

10 Homeschool Mistakes

10 Mistakes That Almost Ruined Our Homeschool

 

The title of this post is a bit dramatic, but let’s roll with it, shall we?

If you’re just joining me, I’m Nike (nee-kay), a third-year homeschool mom of two energetic boys, ages 4 and 8. Welcome to my little corner of the internet where I share my passion for faith, family, and homeschool!

I love when moms share their homeschool “hiccups,” so I’ll go ahead and share mine today. Here are ten things that proved to be unhealthy for our homeschool. I’ll spare you the long intro and get right to it!

1. Doubt.

For me, doubt can stem from the insecurity that we may have made the wrong decision for our family. This insecurity is at its peak during the trying moments of homeschool. You know, when my boys refuse to complete assignments, complain about not seeing their friends, or are just completely uncooperative. I have to remind myself during these moments that all callings in life have their fair share of trials, and just because things are tough doesn’t mean we made the wrong decision. In fact, tough moments are an opportunity to gain perseverance and grow in faith.

2. Unclear expectations.

I found out very quickly that it’s impossible to successfully manage our homeschool without effectively communicating to my family what’s expected of them. This was especially true when it came to delegating roles to my husband. When we were just starting out as a homeschooling family, I carried the bulk of the burden until I realized I couldn’t do it by myself. I needed my husband to know how to assist me, and I needed my children to know exactly what I expected out of them to make this homeschool journey successful.

3. Lack of routine.

Routines are important in our homeschool because my children thrive better when they know what to expect. Although I’ve always been adamant about routines, there were moments when we fell off and those moments were tough on everyone.

4. Being unrealistic.

Everyone has their own struggle in this area. Mine was expecting that my boys will catch on quickly to learning new concepts ALL the time. When they didn’t catch on quickly enough, I most certainly struggled in the patience department. I had to learn how to slow down. After all, one of the perks to homeschool IS being able to slow down when needed. And, even as intelligent as they are, I had to learn that they, like most kids, have areas of weakness that need extra attention.

5. Too much socialization.

I never in my wildest dreams thought my boys would get too much socialization as homeschool kids, but they most certainly did. Between extracurricular classes, playdates, fieldtrips, parties, taekwondo, and family road-trips, I had to scale back tremendously to ensure there was enough time for formal learning. While I value providing my children with social opportunities, I had to realize that it couldn’t be at the cost of their education.

6. Too little socialization.

And, of course, there were the days when we didn’t belong to any homeschool groups or co-ops and struggled to get any social interaction with children my boys’ age. Not having that community made homeschool feel lonelier—mostly for me, though. My kids were 5 and 2, so they were at the age where they didn’t really notice much. But too little socialization for momma was no Bueno.

7. Peer pressure.

Peer pressure in adulthood DOES exist. It looks a little something like this: ALL the moms in your group use a certain type of curriculum and uphold it as the holy-grail to which no other curriculum can compare. Or, those lovely mom chats where moms try and one-up each other on how early their child learned to do this or that. Yep, it got to me. I admit it. And I did feel the pressure to use the curriculum everyone else was using and to teach my kids what everyone else was teaching theirs. Thankfully, that ship has sailed and I’m wiser now. Putting pressure on my family to be like another family certainly caused unnecessary stress on our homeschool.

8. Trying to prove myself.

Anyone ever take a million pictures of your kids with other kids to prove to your disapproving family members that your homeschool kids have a social life? Or, pop-quiz your kids in front of family members to prove they’re learning just as well as any other kid? I’ll raise my hand on that one. It took two years to build the confidence to realize that I didn’t have to prove anything or answer to anyone when it came to our family life.

9. Zero me-time.

I’m home with my kids all day every day so I’m going to need some me-time. And, no, I don’t feel guilty about it. Yes, it was my decision to stay home and homeschool my kids, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to feel tired, annoyed, overwhelmed, or in need of some time alone. Doesn’t mean I hate homeschool. Doesn’t mean I hate my kids. It just means I need to recharge—ALONE! It’s called self-care. When I don’t get me-time everyone and everything in the house suffers—especially our homeschool.

10. Too many curricula.

For our family, it can’t be all about learning from textbooks. There’s a whole world out there that my boys need to explore and learn from—something that textbooks can never teach. The world is our classroom! We can learn about plants and animals, U.S. states, and some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, but experiencing them for ourselves will always hold more weight than memorizing facts.


 

That concludes my list of homeschool “hiccups.” Do you have any? Don’t be shy! Let us know in the comments.