Help for the Hesitant Homeschooler: Mindset Matters
"Whether you think you can or can't, either way, you are right."-Henry Ford
When I meet people for the first time and tell them I'm a homeschooler, the most common reaction I receive is, " I could never homeschool."
I get it. Homeschooling is not the norm. It takes sacrifice, planning, determination, patience, and an enormous snack budget because these kids eat ALL.DAY.LONG. . Ten years ago, I never thought I would be a homeschooler either. Sending our kids to public or private schools seems the obvious choice (even though compulsory public education in the U.S. is less than 200 years old.)
What changed my mind about homeschooling all those years ago is what usually changes my mind: proximity to people who are doing things differently than me. We met a family from a local house church we attended who homeschooled their children. I learned a lot about homeschooling from our time in community with this family. Those conversations planted a seed. I began to question if we would send our children to school or perhaps try something different.
A short aside here: I believe public schools play a vital role in society. Many children and their families receive necessary support and services through schools that no other public system provides in quite the same way. This series of posts is mainly geared toward families with neurotypical children and/or children with mild learning and behavioral needs that don't require outside assistance. Because I am not a parent of a child with significant needs. I cannot speak to homeschooling in that situation. What I do know is that while many children function well in school, many also do not. I'm thankful homeschooling continues to be an option for those of us wanting a different learning path.
When I decided to write this series of posts to help parents navigating the decision to homeschool, I knew I had to start with mindset. Most people reading this series are probably hoping to find curriculum recommendations and resources. Those posts are coming, I promise. But no how-to book or math curriculum will be enough to get you through the challenging homeschool days.
You need to focus on your mindset first.
I know many parents contemplating homeschooling this year are not doing so as a first choice. They are concerned about sending their children to school while COVID 19 is still working its way through our country. Maybe distance learning didn't work well for their child so they are going to try a new approach to schooling. And some parents have no choice in the matter if their district has deemed in-person instruction unsafe.
If you are feeling frustrated, anxious, or scared at the prospect of having your children home next year, feel those feelings. They are valid. Many of you didn't choose this path and many of you that did choose it did so with trepidation. These are hard times and it's good to acknowledge that fact.
While holding our complicated feelings about homeschooling, it's important to find a positive mindset as well. Homeschooling out of fear or obligation is not sustainable. You must believe in positive reasons for homeschooling if you are going to make it an enjoyable experience.
This may not be your first choice, but this extra time with your children can be a gift. It's an opportunity to try something new and different. You are likely to make memories you will talk about for decades to come.
You can choose to see this season as an adventure or an ordeal. It's all up to you. I hope that you will choose to see the opportunity in this moment and embrace something new.