One of the most frequent questions that I hear homeschoolers ask is: How do I know that I’m doing enough in my homeschool?
New homeschoolers. Moms who’ve been homeschooling for 12 years. Homeschool mom with littles. Large family homeschoolers and single-child homeschools.
This common question has the potential to wipe out confidence and steal the joy from your journey. It can swipe your legs out from underneath of you and make you feel about two inches tall. This question plants a tiny seed of doubt that, if left unchecked, sprouts into an uncontrollable weed.
Time to squash all those doubts 😉
Where Does the Question of Doing Enough Come From?
It makes sense. As homeschool moms, we bear the responsibility of raising and educating individuals who will be prepared to launch into society and become responsible adults. That’s a lot of pressure.
How do you know if you’re doing enough in your homeschool?
Pressure from society. Questions from family. Curious friends. Internal pressure because you may not feel qualified or patient enough or have no idea which curriculum would be the best.
All that pressure builds up. You may think that you’re shrugging it off and it’s not getting to you. Or you may feel completely buried in fear. Either way, the seed lurks under the surface, ready to sprout when the right condition comes along, like when you’ve:
- felt exhausted
- heard other homeschool moms talk about their homeschools
- read about what kids are doing in public schools
- found out how a family member’s child is excelling-and your child is not
- been dealing with a child who is struggling with a particular subject
- been trying to use a curriculum that other homeschool moms are raving about and you just can’t seem to make it work
- been feeling guilty because your kids are missing out on _____ and you don’t know if they need it or not
Are you familiar with any of these scenarios that commonly lead to homeschool doubt about doing enough?
Yeah, so am I.
I hope my story, laced with personal struggles of homeschool doubt and overwhelm, will help you know that you aren’t alone. And I truly hope that these shared tips from my experiences help you discover that you are doing enough!
Homeschool Whiplash & Instant Basketcase
In case you haven’t read our backstory, here’s a synopsis: Our older two boys attended a few years of public school. My oldest was suffering from chronic migraines and not getting the support he needed for a congenital vision impairment. After getting nowhere with the school, we decided to try homeschooling. Only a few days before the start of the new school year. Oh, and I was pregnant and also dealing with a toddler.
I had done a little research about homeschooling but had no clue what to do. Over the summer, the last straw plunked down on the camel’s back and we enrolled the boys in cyber school.
My emotions and hormones and mental status were all over the place throughout the next year. Quite frankly, I was a hot mess. Homeschooling had happened so suddenly. How in the world could I do this homeschool thing?
Well, at least I had the cyber school to provide the best curriculum and support, right? Nope, I still felt like I wasn’t doing enough. And cyber school was not a good fit for our family.
We decided to ditch cyber school and do this homeschool thing on our own! WooHoo!
More like, boohoo!
My thoughts and feelings were like a pinball machine, dinging all over the place. How could I teach my boys? I don’t have an education degree! I studied psychology and counseling. What in the world was I doing?
So, I researched and researched and researched some more.
When we started our first week of homeschool, I was ready! I was pumped!
And completely unrealistic. I overplanned the stuffing out of our first day, really our first week. We were burnt out after a few hours of homeschooling. It was that bad.
I found myself looking wistfully at the yellow bus as it drove by. Maybe putting the boys back in public school would be for the best?
No, I knew deep down that homeschooling was right for our family. I decided we needed to take time to reconnect and take a break from structure. We went through a natural process of deschooling and quickly rediscovered our love for learning.
Six years later, I look back and see all the times that I doubted myself throughout that process. Fortunately, I found some helpful practices and resources along the way to help those times of doubt decrease in frequency and duration. And, now, I know I am doing enough 🙂
How to Know You Are Doing Enough
I know what it’s like to ask, “Are we doing enough Spelling?” and “What if my child falls behind?”. The gist of these questions is “Are we doing enough?”.
It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of worry and overwhelm. Unless you are using a highly structured boxed curriculum that clearly lays out the plan for your child’s education and you perfectly follow those instructions, chances are that you have some type of anxiety about your homeschool. Worries like:
- We only homeschool for ____ hours a day. How can that be enough? My kids get all their work done but…
- I’m not good at ____ (organization, paperwork, checking work, etc.). I’m obviously not doing enough in our homeschool.
- Is this the right curriculum? Is it rigorous enough?
- When should we start homeschooling? (that can apply to age, time of year) If I don’t start by ___ age, I’m afraid that I won’t be doing enough with my kids.
- What type of homeschool approach (if any) should we use? They all sound amazing! If I choose one over the other, won’t we be missing out?
- What if my child only does ____? That doesn’t seem like enough!
- I don’t know how to explain ____! Surely, I will fail my child!
- I hate ___! I was never good at it and I’ll never be able to teach it to my kids.
- My kids don’t seem to listen/pay attention/follow directions, etc. I’m obviously not doing this right.
- My kids seem like they are doing well but I still feel like we have gaps in our homeschool.
- Mrs. Perfect Homeschool Mom is doing ____ with her kids. And I’m not!
I don’t have a magic checklist or worksheet or wand to offer you, but I do have these tips that you can use to help you know that you are doing enough:
1. Your Attention
Ask yourself this question: Are you truly being present during your homeschool time? No distractions, like social media, hunger, or thirst? Or those dang to-do lists?
If you can answer in the affirmative to that question, you are off to a great start!
A few tips to help: Work on making eye contact with your kids. Really tune into what they are saying. Observe their facial expressions and behaviors. Soak up all that information to assess how your homeschool is flowing and tweak what you’re doing when necessary.
2. Daily Top 3
I’m a firm believer in having a plan. Plans can lessen anxiety and stress by helping you be prepared. Sure, you can still be spontaneous and jump down rabbit holes. Selecting your Top 3 Goals for the day will help you know that you are getting your priorities done. And that can help you feel like you’re doing enough.
Simply remembering your blessings and freedom to homeschool can help you reframe any doubts. Focus on the precious time that you have with your kids and how you have the awesome opportunity to connect through learning at home. A shift in your perspective can help you realize that you are doing enough.
4. Get Feedback
Check in with your kids. Ask for their honest feedback about your homeschool. I have found this step to be extremely helpful in curbing any doubts I have about doing enough. Just talking with my boys about what they are studying and enjoying can help me realize that we’re okay.
5. Reality Check
Take a look at your homeschool mission statement or vision board. Reflect on the goals and dreams that you have for your homeschool. You may find that you are doing enough and on the right path.
6. Stop “Shoulding” On Yourself
I really wish that I could take credit for that phrase. The psychologist, Clayton Barbeau, coined the phrase that relates to how irrational thinking can cause many of our self-doubts and other issues. Instead of irrational phrases like “should” and “must”, you replace those words with phrases like, “It would be nice if…” or “I would prefer…”. This type of positive talk takes a bit of practice but is powerful in overcoming homeschool doubt. Homeschool affirmations are other easy ways to build self-esteem and confidence as a homeschooler.
7. Zoom Out Then Zoom In
Remember, homeschooling is more than just academics. It’s about relationship building and cultivating skills that your kids carry with them for a lifetime.
Take a step back and look at the big picture. Check your goals and mission statement. Are you working towards those goals? Then, I would venture to say that you’re good 🙂
Next, pinpoint your specific fears, concerns, and doubts about not doing enough. Dig deep and get details. Instead of hand-wringing, take action by taking an honest examination of your thoughts and challenging them. Ask yourself:
- Are these concerns based on truth?
- Will my child suffer irreversible damage if I don’t do ____?
- Are these doubts based on what’s really going on in our homeschool or due to comparison with others?
- If I don’t do ___, will my child still receive a quality education?
8. Peer Support
Check in with other homeschoolers that you trust. Ladies who get you, understand your homeschool approach, and your life situation. This is not the time to get mixed up in the comparison game so I only advise this step if you feel strong enough to get feedback from others. A fabulous online community for homeschool moms is our Rock Your Homeschool! Facebook group.
Tip: When asking for feedback and support, provide details about your concerns (but don’t go overboard!). “I’m so afraid I’m failing my homeschool!” is going to get a wide range of responses. Use the details from zooming in and out when talking with your peers. Being vague can lead to misunderstanding and make you feel even worse.
9. Quality Over Quantity
Remind yourself that doing more is not always better. Emphasize quality over quantity. If your child can remember ten sight words after two tries, that’s awesome! Don’t feel that you have to repeat the activity ten times for fear of not doing enough. Or maybe they remember two sight words after ten tries. That’s okay, too! It’s all about the process.
Learn to trust the homeschool process. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You will have ups and downs with periods of self-doubt. It’s human nature.
You know your kids. You know yourself. Your homeschool is unique and is incomparable to any other homeschool, private, or public school. And that’s okay!
It may take some time practicing these tips, but you will come to know that you are doing enough.
I give you permission to release your fears, doubts, and concerns. Holding on to them serves as a crutch and prevents true growth in your homeschool and yourself.
You don’t need those fears. You are a strong homeschool mom who has all that it takes to homeschool your kids. You are teaching out of love and you are doing enough.
Are you frustrated with feeling like you aren’t doing enough in your homeschool? What struggles could you use help with?