I was consulting with a new homeschooler last week and she asked me, "But what if I mess I up their education?" Don’t worry, they have already learned lot’s things that you didn’t teach them. They will do that throughout all of life.
It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question and likely won’t be the last. Most new homeschoolers have a deep seeded fear that they will mess up their children’s education, or worse, their entire lives, if they decide to homeschool.
Hey parents, please take note; you are already there. Let me clarify before going any farther. You see, parenting does not come with any instruction manual and neither does homeschooling. We can read every "how-to" book we want, follow the advice exactly, mimic each step along the way, and our kids will still end up with plenty to talk to their therapists about. At the very least, they will have enough fodder to know how they don’t want to be like you in their adult years. Consider it a parenting right of passage. It doesn’t mean you suck or that you screwed up. It means we all try our best to get it right and that changes day to day and even moment to moment.
So now, to ensure that your kid’s therapist (and maybe yours), is kept in business for a good long time, you are thinking about homeschooling. Your relatives may call you crazy or even unqualified, and most new homeschoolers share those same fears with me over several cups of coffee. What if the kids fall behind? What if the parent doesn’t know anything about a subject? What if your prodigy suddenly hate homeschooling? What if you hate homeschooling?
We need to stop our approach to homeschooling as an end all decision and remember that we are not in this alone. Put things into perspective and take baby steps. Deciding to homeschool is no more monumental than giving birth and sometimes it’s just as mundane as washing dishes.
Decisions about homeschooling should be given good thought about what your family can handle and your committment to the process. But isn’t that what we do with any decision regarding our children? It’s just a decision folks. It may be short term or long term. It may work or it may not, but will likely fall somewhere in the middle. How you homeschool and whether you homeschool, can be changed at anytime. Neither represent success or failure – they are just decisions that reflect a changing life.
If fear of messing up your kids life or even their education is holding you back from homeschooling, I encourage you to get to the heart of the fear. Remember to make decisions in small steps and to ask for help along the way whether it’s for everyday parenting struggles or assistance with algebra. Focus less on the bigger questions and let those things work themselves out. Your relationship with your child is what is most important.
You have always made the best decision for your child that you can in the moment. Homeschooling is no different. Know that you mess up your kids just enough to make them healthy adults and they will still love you for it!