What I want you to know about homeschooling is this – you will never really know for sure that you are doing it right. And that’s OK.
I spoke to a mom last week, in tears and overwhelmed.
New to even the idea of homeschooling, and now forced into it by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the fear and frustration of trying to help her son learn everyday was debilitating.
“I don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning. I am not sure how I am going to do this for the next week, much less until the end of the school year.”
I nodded my head as she spoke.
Believe it or not, even though I have been homeschooling now for almost a decade, I feel the same way.
It is by far what I think most of us struggle with most. It’s hard to do something every day, something you think is incredibly important, and not have any idea if you are meeting any sort of expectation.
There is no boss giving you feedback and performance appraisals. There is no measurement of how much our children are actually comprehending and retaining. There is no real finish line.
The most challenging part of homeschooling a child, any child with any level of need, is never really knowing for sure that you are doing it right.
What You Need To Know About Homeschooling
There are things I find I need to remind myself of over and over again right now. Whether you are doing this under complete duress, or have been homeschooling for years, maybe you need the reminders too.
1. There is a difference between crisis-schooling and homeschooling.
I have seen quite a few memes floating around about this and find they are totally accurate.
Helping children learn at home, in the midst of a crisis, is more like crisis-schooling than homeschooling. Trust me, the past few years have brought seasons of crisis-schooling in my home far more than I would like to admit. Hospitalizations, major medical diagnoses and mental health issues have thrust us over and over again into an educational environment that can best be described as “We are doing the best we can to make it to the end of the day and not make things worse.”
It feels the same to me now, mid-pandemic, struggling to procure the medicines my boys need and figure out where our next paycheck is coming from.
Crisis-schooling, for us, takes the focus off of academics, and instead relies heavily on calming down things with routine. Academics may be a part of it, but the priority is keeping my children stable, engaged and close.
I’ve learned that there is plenty of time to pick-up where we left off academically. Right now, homeschooling looks a lot more like managing anxiety and providing games and projects in a way that feels helpful, not stressful.
2. No one knows really knows what they are doing, even in the best of times.
For those of you who may be new to homeschooling, I want you to know that the feeling you have right now that you are just trying to figure this out and why doesn’t someone just give you the manual on how to do this is a part of homeschooling, even in the best of times.
We are all doing the best we can. We are all trying to figure it out. We all have good days and horrible days.
Think of homeschooling as an extension of parenting. No one really knows your children better than you, and no one knows what will work for your children better than you.
3. The simple act of showing up matters way more than you think .
Prior to this month, my boys were actually showing significant progress, both academically and emotionally. So much so that it almost took me by surprise.
Looking back, I can tell you that my dyslexic son finally learning to read, or my child on the autism spectrum creating deep and meaningful friendships, did not happen because I checked all the boxes and did all the things.
I believe it happened because they were able to progress at the pace they needed in an environment that provided safety and support.
All I did was show up, most days.
It matters far more than I ever thought it would.
It’s the greatest piece of advice I can possibly give you.
Keep showing up. Do the best you can. Love your kids.
It’s the only homeschooling secret I have to share.
For more ideas, encouragement and support:
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.