Thursday, May 12, 2011

Think About it Thursday: Who is the Authority of Your Homeschool!

So it's that time of year when I start to see and hear more and more post about homeschool parents feeling like they are "Falling Behind", "Missing Something", "Failing there Children", and so on and so forth. It seems like right as the year comes to a close  is when the demon of Self Doubt rears his ugly head and even some of us seasoned homeschoolers can't manage to escape his possession. You would think a group of parents who stepped out on faith and took the plunge into the pool of home education have to be some of the most confident parents on the face of the earth. Well that is just not true. We are all human and we are all subject to insecurities. Especially in a culture that is against the family its hard to be Set Apart at times. But this is why I pose the question today to my fellow homeschoolers "Who is the Authority of Your Homeschool?".

 Based off what your answer is should reveal exactly where these emotions of self doubt come from especially if you are unsure of the answer. If you don't rightly know that is okay its never to late to have a Vision/ Mission for your homeschool but I do think that it is imperative that every family have a goal in mind and stay true to that vision throughout there home education journey.Everyone is measuring themselves up to some standards. The question here is "Who's standards are you measuring your family against?".

I am going to give some examples of where I have found most homeschoolers to fit into when it comes to there measurement standards.

  1. Public School Standards- For some families they homeschool only to have there children at home and so there educational standard is measured by what the local Public School is doing cause they are still the authority of education in there home even though the schooling takes place in the home. In this scenario the parents have not fully taken advantage of the freedom of homeschooling to create there own goals and vision. This could be for many reasons from thinking they are not an expert in education so they couldn't possibly make the standards or it could be that its just not of any importance to them they just want to be at home and not have to focus on anything else. The problem with this method that parents run into is that if the "Homeschool" based curriculum they selected for the year is somehow not adding up or covering everything on that local Public Schools scope and sequence than there begins the panic and race to catch up or fill in the gaps to measure up to that Public School Authority. Well I have lots of friends who have taught as PS teachers are still are PS teachers and they always make sure to tell folks that they never finished a textbook or curriculum by the end of the year. That is whey most Public School Text repeat the same info from the year before for the first 3 months of the new school year. Its basically a review of the year before. Think about all the snow days, teacher institute days, holiday breaks, spring breaks and so on that they take during the year yet us homeschoolers feel guilty for taking a day or two off for a personal day or what ever. We just need to put things in perspective.
  2. Academic Standards-  For some of us homeschoolers we are totally engulfed with a educational philosophy or method rather that be Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Unit Study, Unschooling, etc... I  started out homeschooling with a strictly academic vision in mind that eventually evolved into something much more in the end but I think its typical for some parents to start out with purely an academic goal in mind. Having a educational philosophy or method of homeschooling is a positive thing it gives some basic curriculum guidelines to follow usually even a year by year break down. That is great. Usually the problem comes in when you stop looking at the philosophy as just a set of guidelines and start placing it on  a pedestal of must do must follow rigid rules. I think for some parents this starts when we fall victim to "Comparing our Children to Others". You might read an article in a homeschooling magazine or have a friend in a COOP who uses the same homeschool method as you yet you look at there child(who might not even be the same age as your child) and you see how they are covering all these subjects, playing the violin and piano, volunteering at the food pantry, acing the SAT's and can write a college level thesis and you start to go into heart palpitations.Then starts the we need to do Latin, French, play the french horn, do nature study everyday, homeschool 6hrs a day and go do all these other things so we can be just like so and so or else we are not doing it right. You look over at your kids who are playing around with Lego's and army men while you are trying to read aloud your history lesson, he only did a half a math worksheet and you wonder how will I ever get him into college. This is when you start to feel like a failure. It is my hope by illustrating these scenarios you will begin to see how silly we look sometimes. I have to laugh at this cause I have been there.
  3. Mom and Dad's Standards- Now I do admit I love when I see parents who have set down together and come up with a list of reasons and goals as to why they are homeschooling there children. I find this to be the clearest way to understand and define your homeschool goals when you sit down as a couple an establish your homeschool Vision/ Mission. But even with starting out with something this strong I have still seen parents feel like they are not making the mark even when they set the mark. This could stem from setting the mark too high or not realizing that since you are in charge of the standards you can reform and make changes to that vision at anytime. What if you started out with goals when your children were little and as time went on you realized that you had a "Special Learner" who required special attention in academic areas or even social areas. This could change that vision. You may need to adjust that vision to fit the changes of your family. Or sometimes I find that parents who set goals together might begin to feel imaginary pressure  or real pressure from there spouse to measure up to the vision. Like for instance a wife might feel like every time she is not meeting the goals on the list perfectly she is somehow failing her husband and kids. Don't be so hard on yourself. These goals are just an idea of where you want to go not necessarily where you are at. Its just a maker to help lead and guide you not to make you feel inadequate in anyway. And realize when you have aimed too high and feel pressured and sit down again as a couple and make adjustments where they are needed.
  4. God's Standards- The Homeschool Movement in this Country as we know was Pioneered by those looking to raise there children with a God centered education. And the majority of homeschoolers even till this day home educate for this very reason to have God be central in there child's education. I find that when convicted to homeschool for a higher calling its less likely that on a year to year basis that folks go back and forth with the same self doubt trials. But even with God at the centered and scripture leading the way I have seen parents feel the woes of what am I not doing enough of. Once again I think this could be stemming from Comparing oneself to others. Maybe your family has a heart to be mission minded and travel the world spending the Gospel but you haven't quite made it there cause you have a new baby every year and your husband can't find work to save enough for the trip. Well maybe your mission field is your local community or maybe even your own family. Maybe raising Godly children who love the lord and can read his word is enough. Sometimes I think we don't understand when the holy spirit takes over and directs to where we need to be when we need to be. Also since the movement has become so diverse and folks are homeschooling for more than just Spiritual reasons even the most God driven family can get caught up in measuring themselves against the standards I have listed at the top. You might find yourself now questioning whether or not your children know enough of other things outside of biblical training. But maybe we need to learn how to put things in perspective. We need to see that Scripture memorization is :Language Arts, Reading the King James Bible is studying Literature and History, we need to see that observing God's creation in nature is the root of Science, and so on and so forth. Having a child who is strong in faith and can go to God in and his word in time of need goes a much longer way than a child who can recite the capitol cities of Europe. Not saying that these things aren't important but don't worry if these things didn't fall into your agenda. Your child has tools in his tool belt to help fix anything he hasn't been formally trained to do.


  1. I love this and so agree. It reminds me to remember why and whom I am doing this for, not jut my child, (Children as the baby gets older) but for the Lord as he is the one who called me to it. Thank you for posting this!

  2. No Problem Ark. We all need a little reminder as homeschoolers at some point in the year. With all the day to day we can sometimes loose track of our vision.


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