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I have written about the external pressures that homeschoolers face, but what about the internal pressures you can face in your homeschool? These are the kinds of pressures that we put on ourselves, and usually, we do this all too often.
In so many things, homeschooling included, we are often our own worst critic, and we can be relentless when it comes to homeschooling. Ask me how I know that one…
While homeschooling is a large undertaking, it can be so easy to put pressure on ourselves as homeschooling parents that just shouldn’t be there. We put demands on ourselves that are often nearly impossible to meet, and the expectations we place on ourselves can be completely unreasonable.
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Of course we need to take our role as a homeschooling parent seriously and we must be diligent in teaching our children, but we don’t have to put undue pressure on ourselves.
As a homeschooling mom of nearly 11 years, I find these five things to be the internal pressures that I most commonly put on myself.
A fear of “doing it” wrong
I think this is the one that I still feel the most, and I hear it from so many fellow homeschoolers as well as those who are possibly interested in homeschooling. This is similar to the fear that so many moms have in general – the fear of “what if I’m messing up my kid?!”
In reality, if you are taking an active role in homeschooling your children, following the requirements that your state has in place, continuing to learn, grow, and change in your role as a homeschooling parent, and following your child’s lead at times, you are doing just fine. Obviously your role as a homeschooling parent goes much deeper than this, but you can stop worrying that you are “doing it” wrong.
Perfectionism can be a great stumbling block to our role as a homeschooling mom. Think about it for a moment – is there any such thing as a perfect teacher in any school environment? I think I can pretty much rest my case here on that fact alone. Stop trying to be perfect as a homeschooling parent. You will do yourself a huge favor in the process.
Finding the perfect curriculum
There is no such thing as the perfect curriculum, so to look for something to fit into that place is futile. We can feel so much pressure to do this, though, can’t we? The truth is that the options out there are endless, and you may need to make adjustments to your original plan.
You may also need to change curriculums from one kid to another because what works well for one student may not be ideal for another. This is the beauty of homeschooling, however, as your student can have something that more suits them, their personality, and their learning style by having a homeschooling parent who can make changes as they need to be made. This is something that is not so easily done within a school setting.
Not feeling patient, smart, organized, or in some other way skilled enough to homeschool
This is another one of those pressures that I think all homeschooling parents deal with at various times throughout the homeschooling journey. People even avoid homeschooling altogether based on this fear. There is no good that comes from this pressure, however, so when these sorts of lies creep in, just dismiss them as quickly as possible.
You love your child, you are working with your child, and in homeschooling your child you are making a huge commitment to them. Rest on that. The intelligence, organization, patience, and all the other things will come….and God will give you the right amount of those things as you need them. When those don’t seem like enough, He will also give you and your child the grace you need in the midst of your homeschooling day.
We see bad days as a failure and a cause for throwing in the homeschooling towel
Listen to me. Lean in close. I have bad days. You will have bad days. We all have bad days. It’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, it doesn’t make you bad person, and it doesn’t make you unfit for homeschooling. This can be a spillover from the external pressures that others can put on us as we can be made to feel as though we are supposed to have it all together every single day. Both externally and internally, get rid of these thoughts. Immediately.
Let’s not just stop here, however. Let’s talk about some of the things we can do to overcome these internal pressures in your homeschool.
First, it is ok to reexamine your calling to homeschool. It is ok to reexamine the why you uncovered in So, Your Thinking About Homeschooling. It is even ok to determine, and even necessary at times, to walk away from homeschooling for a time. Life changes, seasons change, demands, roles, and circumstances all change. At times these dictate the need to walk away from homeschooling, even if only for a time. Even with a sophomore in high school, we still approach homeschooling on a year by year basis.
With that said, let’s move on.
When these five internal pressures weigh down on you, here are some things you can try.
Take a break
Maybe you need a day, a week, or even longer off of homeschooling. This really can be necessary at times and while you have requirements to fulfill, there is always room for creativity and flexibility within the homeschooling context. When your homeschooling day is no longer productive….maybe a break is needed.
Play around with your daily schedule
Maybe you should try starting your school day earlier, later, or with more breaks figured in. If you’ve never done recess on a daily basis, this could very well be the thing that will make your days go well. There are days when we are still trying to get through the school day at 9 p.m. with certain kids because we’ve been in a season that dictates a long day with more blocks of time off in the middle. The sky is the limit.
Play around with your daily schedule. You can read about how our schedule works in How to Balance Homemaking and Homeschooling (this is a 3 part series), Our Homeschool Day, and Balancing Home in Homeschooling.
Play around with your yearly school calendar
We have’t always done year-round school, but we fell in love with it from the moment we tried it because it allows for more freedom and regular breaks throughout the year. You can read about how it works and why we love it in Why We Prefer Year-Round Homeschool.
Change your environment
Maybe your homeschool environment has just become stale or boring. Try a different place, take your school outside, or put some quiet classical music on in the background. My busy bodied kids need something to fiddle with while they listen, I have kids who need to hang upside down on the couch while they learn, and I have others who can only concentrate while listening to music that would drive me insane. Try some different things. Bring some fun into your homeschool environment and watch everyone – even yourself – breathe a sigh of relief.
Introduce something new
Sometimes a new curriculum can help here, but we have also gone through periods where we have thrown our history curriculum out the window for a couple of weeks to read some biographies. This is just one example, but maybe getting some new and exciting books from the library on your topic of study will help everyone get more excited about learning.
Pressure comes from all sides in life, especially in the life of a homeschooling family it seems, but exasperating yourself with internal pressures of all kinds doesn’t help. Keep an eye out for these five common pressures, and then do something to get rid of them right away!