When my husband and I were still dating, I wasn’t going to ask to homeschool. I had grown up homeschooled, knew the benefit of it, liked the idea of it, but had asked for other things in regards to parenting and felt like I was asking for too much. Homeschooling, at the time, was not as important as the other things.
Luckily, as we were out to dinner one night he looked at me and said, “We are homeschooling our kids, right?” I didn’t even miss a beat when I said, “Yes. Yes, we are.” And that was that.
Cut to a few years later and I can’t imagine not homeschooling. From the time my first was born, I started researching how, why, and when to start homeschooling. There is so much out there to help guide you. But there is also so much out there to confuse you. What is good for one person is stressful to another. That’s why, when I talk to others about homeschooling their own kids, I find the most important thing is to know your “why”.
Simon Sinek says, “The WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.” Yes! You need to understand why you are going to homeschool. Why is it important to you? When the storms of life blow – and they will, your WHY keeps you grounded and calm in the midst of it all.
Let me illustrate for a moment what I’m talking about. A tale of two families, if you will. Both of these families are fictional, however, they are based on conversations I have had with several parents.
Mom wants to homeschool. She has friends that homeschool and she can see the benefit and love that can come from that environment. She has prayed daily about what to do and feels strongly to follow this path.
Dad is hesitant. He sees public school as a good thing and homeschool as an experiment. He sees how busy his wife is and doesn’t think she has the time to homeschool and is afraid they will fall behind.
Dad decides to allow mom to homeschool, keeping a watchful eye on the situation. Mom, with the hope that she doesn’t fail, begins. But some of her kids give her pushback (and possibly from her husband as well). They want to stay in public school and don’t want to finish their schoolwork. They argue and fight more. Mom has doubts. Maybe she isn’t supposed to homeschool. Maybe she is doing the wrong thing. Maybe…
It becomes harder to homeschool knowing that she is the only one who wants it. She wonders if she should put them back in. Or maybe just the children who want to go back. Doubts plague her and it starts causing stress. The conviction she once had from her prayers slowly gives way to apprehension.
Mom begins to think about homeschooling. She researches and starts to understand why she, individually, needs to homeschool. She prays for guidance, then creates a plan to help her weather any storms.
Dad is hesitant. He has friends that were homeschooled and it was not a good experience. He wants to continue to send the kids to public school. He is worried about the kids not having friends and not getting proper socialization.
Mom and dad have a couples meeting. They discuss their concerns and together decide on a course of action. When the uncertainty hits they regroup, discuss, and move forward with conviction.
What is the difference between these two families? Family 1 knows that they have been guided to homeschool, but have not set their plan of how to combat the doubts and fears. Mom and dad have not come together. By contrast, Family 2 has the same guided thought, but have created a plan. They know what they are going to do if they get pushback from the kids or start feeling like they are failing. There is a sense of peace knowing and then acting on that knowledge.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR WHY
First, find yourself a quiet space, grab a drink and snack if you’d like, and have a notebook and pen on hand. Then, start writing. Write a pro list. Don’t worry about the cons right now, just jot down every reason why it’s a good thing to start homeschooling.
- Being able to learn proper socialization from adults in the community rather than other children
- Stronger family bond
- Individualized academics
- Able to play to their strengths and learning style
- Can include curriculum that has religion
- Can choose own curriculum
The list can continue to go on and on. Now, put a star next to your top three. On another page take one of those top three and write a statement about why it speaks to you. For instance, if one of my top three was to have a stronger family bond, it would look something like this:
STRONGER FAMILY BOND
I would like a family that plays together often. A family that values loyalty to each other first. I would like us to play games on Sunday night and go camping during the summer. I would like to hear giggles coming from their room as they play and joke with each other. I want us to be quick to forgive and slow to think ill of each other. I want us to have meaningful conversations and happily talk about our lives with each other. When we are older, I want them to look back fondly on their childhood knowing that we chose family and were blessed by it.
Now, as any goal-setter will tell you, you need to put that into present-tense, as if it has already happened. We don’t have to for this exercise, but if you would like to, please do. I want you to feel these in your bones. You can also do this with your spouse to help you come together if you are not already.
Next, list a few concerns that you or your spouse may have. We all have them. A big one is fear of failure. Maybe not enough friend time, money (it can be expensive for some), or not a lot of time to devote to homeschooling. Take each of these cons and write your plan on getting you through. It might look like this:
FEAR OF FAILURE
I will recognize that even if they were in public school they might have problems. I will learn to recognize when they are being stubborn and when they need more time to absorb a concept. I will allow us to take breaks when needed and push forward when they are able. I will give myself grace when I need breaks and recognize that family bonding and character development is more important than book learning.
When I write my statements they tend to be a little on the long side. I like to put everything I can think of into the statement because when I look back on them if I am struggling I can be reminded that I have planned for this and knew it was coming.
Those two statements are your why and your thought plan for when the uncertainty kicks in. You can combine them if you’d like, into a single why statement – I usually don’t because I like to look through them individually, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
Keep your book on hand. Keep it by your homeschool planner or have a separate notebook for homeschool thoughts and ideas. Read them often and preferably with your spouse to keep yourself on track until those thoughts don’t plague you.
One final thought, your WHY will be different than my WHY. That is okay and needed! Your family is different than mine and therefore the needs are different.
Good luck and if you have any questions or comments, let me know if the comments below. 🙂