Overcoming your doubts and perceived obstacles - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 11-05-2010, 10:21 AM - Thread Starter
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I truly love the idea of homeschooling. I'm in heaven when I'm lying in bed at night reading books about it and others' success stories and thinking of the things we could do ... of course the kids are all sound asleep at that point and not bringing any reality into my fantasies. Then they wake up and the chaos starts and I feel like I do not have the skills or commitment to do it properly. So I send the two older kids off to their public school (full-day Kindergarten) and I'm secretly relieved that my three year old and I go about our day more easily. We're hoping to move out of state at the end of year and it seems like this transition will provide a window where I can either attempt HSing or give up the fantasy for good. I'm hoping some of you might have some insights on your decision to do this for your family. Was it something you always knew you would be doing? Did you have a reluctant partner that needed convincing? Do you doubt yourself on a regular basis? Is it more exhausting and harder than you ever imagined? Thanks in advance for any replies.
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#2 of 7 Old 11-05-2010, 12:00 PM
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We sent our daughter to Montessori preschool and K and didn't start homeschooling until she was 5.5.

The first year I doubted our choice all the time and wondered how on earth it could turn out well. Each year has reduced my doubts significantly. We're hs'ing high school now and I can't imagine doing anything else. My daughter tried half-time high school last year at a local charter school. She handled the classwork easily. She just found that she liked homeschooling better! School wasn't bad, it just wasn't as good.

Like parenting in general, sometimes it is more exhausting and harder than you imagine. It is also sometimes more wonderful and awe inspiring than you could ever imagine. In general though I like the stress of homeschooling over the stress of dealing with school bureaucracies!

One thing that has helped me is realizing that the decision to attend school or homeschool is not irrevocable and/or lifelong. You can re-evaluate periodically and see what will work best for your family now. So, go try it! You will always regret not trying it. But if it doesn't work for your family, going back to school is always an option that is available. Then you will know that you are making a choice based on what works for you not out of fear of the unknown.

Above all - have fun with whichever you choose!
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#3 of 7 Old 11-05-2010, 12:40 PM
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I feel unequipped and doubt myself every week.
I have a few reasons why I homeschool:
1) DH is pro-homeschool because he worked with youth (teenagers) for many years and he deducted that spending too much time with peers creates huge problems in many youth.
2) School has a lot of wasted time and I want my kids to have plenty of play time.
3) I want my kids to be able to study things they are interested in. For example, my DS6 is very interested in animals. We have studied lobsters, gorillas and octopuses this year so far.
4) We are very family-focused. I want to spend as much time as possible with my kids. My kids don't like doing anything without myself or dh.
5) School generally caters to the lowest common denominator...the teachers have to tailor their program to teach the students that are the hardest to teach, so if your child catches on quickly (ours do) they will be left bored and wasting a lot of time.
6) You can teach your child in the way that they learn best.

My DS went to preschool. His first day of preschool I decided I was going to homeschool. His teacher (whom none of us had met because she just moved the weekend before school started), walked into the room and announced "Hi everyone!! Bye moms and dads!!" and she took one of the kids hands out of her parents hands and walked away with this child, while waving to the mom again saying, "Good bye!"
My jaw dropped. I clutched my sons hands even tighter. Four of the kids were in absolute hysterics and their parents just left. I took DS out in the hallway for 30 minutes while they tried to calm these kids down. We had never met the teacher and neither had anyone else and here she was with our kids telling us to leave??? And these are 4 year olds!! Some of the kids were really scared!
DS told me that his teacher yelled a lot. I told the school I was pulling him out and they told me that the teacher had been replaced (ie fired) and urged me to give it another shot. I hated it. I hated not knowing what my son was doing for 3 hours. I hated wondering if the teacher was being nice to him or if the other kids were being fair and kind to him.
I guess I am a bit overprotective, but my son DOES NOT want to go to public school. We've talked about it and every time he cries. So homeschool is a definate must for him, but also something that I really want to do simply because I want to be with my kids.

The things I find hard are that DS does not have any friends his age due to several reasons, one of them being that he does not go to school. I also struggle because my kids don't have any other mentors in their life except for DH and I.

It has been hard for me to get started homeschooling. So many options, not sure what to pick in terms of curriculum, being overwhelmed with what I think I *should* be doing with my kids vs practically what I can do with them.

I rarely think that I wish he would be in school, but I do have days where I get frustrated with him (he demands a lot of time and attention which wears me out, and I run a dayhome and have lots of kids here all the time).

It is truly rewarding for me when I teach him something and he "gets it" and I can see him learning something that we value!!
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#4 of 7 Old 11-05-2010, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Was it something you always knew you would be doing?
No, it grew on me gradually as I met people who were homeschooling and saw more and more in my eldest child that did not seem well-fitted to the public school system.

Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Did you have a reluctant partner that needed convincing?
My dh was by his own admission uninformed and a little skeptical. He's not as ready to question conventional wisdom as I am. I began talking about homeschooling a year or so before my eldest was due to start KG and by the time that year rolled around he was comfortable with "keeping her home during kindergarten at least." What really convinced him was seeing the robust learning and social experiences she was getting whilst homeschooling, things that school would interfere with.

Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Do you doubt yourself on a regular basis? Is it more exhausting and harder than you ever imagined? Thanks in advance for any replies.
I'm twelve years into this racket. I don't doubt homeschooling per se any more, but I am always having thoughts about whether my approach here or there is really optimal for one kid or another. This is inseparable from regular parenting guilt, I think. I worry whether middle dd needs more of my time one-on-one, whether ds needs more of a push to do this or that, whether I should insist on certain chores, whether the current bedtimes are working well, whether I am giving youngest dd enough of the structure and direction she craves in academic areas, whether we travel too much, or too little. But that's just part of being a parent -- you have a bunch of things to balance, and just when you've got it right, something changes and you start wondering whether you need to adjust.

Homeschooling, for us at least, isn't tidy. It's a messy way to live our lives. By this I don't mean tangible mess around the house, although we have that too. I mean our lives aren't all neatly mapped out ahead of time and we don't always know exactly what we shoudl be doing. We don't organize our learning ahead of time; we prefer to be able to go with the flow and grab opportunities as they arise. That has wonderful advantages, but it means that
sometimes we don't really know which way is up. My kids are 7 through 16 now, and they're busy with all sorts of things both within and beyond the home. We find we need to get together and talk about priorities fairly frequently so that certain things don't get lost in the shuffle.

When I write about what we do, day to day and week to week, it looks wonderful and productive. Really, though, I'm only writing about the most tangible and impressive 5-10% of what we do. When I'm mired down in the thick of the daily chaos, I often feel like nothing worthwhile is happening and my days are about driving kids around, perpetually trying to catch up with the laundry and the dishes, ignoring errands and projects that need finishing up, and occasionally managing to throw together a meal. That's where my challenges arise: feeling like I'm on a directionless treadmill with this family, just trying to keep up.

So I blog about the most tangible 5-10%, and I take some time for myself, and I let the laundry pile up and I feel better. And the kids, they really are thriving when I look at the big picture. So no, it's not harder then I ever imagined, it's just not what I thought it would look like. It's a bit more like herding cats than walking a well-behaved dog.

Then again I have four very different kids, and a couple of part-time jobs, and a husband who's not able to be very involved due to his work.


Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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#5 of 7 Old 11-05-2010, 07:46 PM
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The chaos tapers down. I found that after kids home school a little while, they calm down. Going off to a school all day long, with tons of kids, bright lights, constant activity, constant changing of activity, constant constant constant, they come home unfocused and difficult. At school, because it is all about mass management and not so much about academics, the children are generally shuffled from one thing to the next. They are also constantly on sensory overload.

My children were killing each other not so long ago. Then oddly, my husband and I noticed this last week that it has been a few weeks since there has been a fight. Plus, my neighbor, who is not prohome school at all, (not so much against it, but often comments on how she thinks the local schools are great) commented to me the other day on how calm my children seem lately and what am I doing to cause this. I simply answered with I home school now.
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#6 of 7 Old 11-06-2010, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Was it something you always knew you would be doing?
No, I definitely came to it gradually. I remember when DS1 was a baby, thinking HS was nuts. When he was approaching preschool age and nowhere near ready, I knew I couldn't send him that year. By the next year, he still wouldn't have been ready for the program for his age. By the time he reached kindy age he might have been ready for preschool, but not kindergarten. Each year it was just something I could not see working for him, so we didn't do it. By his "kindergarten" year I started to take HS more seriously and put more thought and effort into it. Each year that has gone by, the differences I see between what he gets at home and what he would get at school seems to be a bigger and bigger issue to me...I mean each year I become more and more convinced that he just doesn't belong in a typical school setting. It wouldn't work for him. But I have reached this point in small steps.

Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Did you have a reluctant partner that needed convincing?
No...we were both at the same point when he was a baby - never would have considered it. As time went on, I shared my thoughts and what I was learning by reading with my DH, and his thinking came along with mine. I think at first he was alarmed by the idea but the more we talked about our own school experiences, which were both really negative, and the more we looked at our son and imagined him in school, homeschooling seemed like a better and better idea.

Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Do you doubt yourself on a regular basis?
Daily. Sometimes hourly. But when I consider the alternatives, I really believe that I am the best option. So I dig in, research, find solutions to the current obstacle or challenge, and keep going.

Originally Posted by bananahands View Post
Is it more exhausting and harder than you ever imagined? Thanks in advance for any replies.
Yes. When I started, we knew he was different. We didn't know about his vision problems though, and I never imagined he would have so much difficulty with reading and writing. From reading umpteen homeschooling books and message board posts, I believed that if I just picked an approach or program and went through the steps, he would be reading and writing at the end of it. It didn't work out that way with him because he has learning challenges we didn't know about. The journey so far (to halfway through grade 2) has been very different than what I was expecting when I started. But it's our journey, and it's uniquely shaped by his specific needs and how I respond to them. Although it's been so much more challenging and frustrating that I could have imagined at the start, and I do have outside professional help for him now, I don't regret keeping him home and I don't have any plans to stop homeschooling.

DS1 March 2003DS2 Sept 2005,
and 3 , in our happy secular
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#7 of 7 Old 11-07-2010, 03:01 AM
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Wow, mamas! Sincerely, thank you for the candid, no doubt incidental, encouragement. I usually feel like my family is together in one of those clear hamster balls with everyone going in some direction, being tossed and pulled by the force of all of the others. I really don't enjoy the hamster ball life...

I am presently putting together a curriculum for me. Yes, for me. *I* want to have structured, deliberate learning every day. My children are invited and welcome to join in, but I will never force them by coercion or otherwise. Doing this recently, I've found myself fulfilled and much more relaxed, and even the children who have been throwing fits when they don't accomplish excellence in their first attempt, have completely calmed down with this approach. Before, I facilitated their interest-led learning, but I think they felt set adrift, and now, they feel accompanied.

Again, thank you for sweetening the well.

ETA: I didn't expect to have children, but the minute following our hcp's call to inform me of ds1's presence solidified my intention and resolve to do so.

My dp wasn't sure until about two years ago, but agreed that none of our dc would thrive in mass schooling, and both of us prefer the challenges of 24/7 family time to the headaches our friends have with ps. So, he carefully inched aboard initially for that reason, but in the last two years has jumped onboard with his increased understanding and appreciation for why I insisted, based on his observations of the development of our children.

And yes, thus far I have found it exhausting, but I do have five children, ages seven years to three months.


Well, I've been absent for 8 months, and during that time, it turns out that I have completely transformed. You are all precious. Thank you for being here and sharing your lives. You are truly a gift. namaste.gif Jan. 23, 2012

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