This post on homeschool comparisons is part seven of a blog and Periscope series dedicated to helping homeschoolers overcome common struggles.
Comparisons can wreak havoc upon us, can’t they? Your ice cream cone is bigger than mine. Her thighs are skinnier than mine. Their kids are more quiet and well-behaved than mine. His cup of goldfish crackers has more than mine. Your sports team is faster than ours.
What happens when this common trap of comparisons creep into our homeschool? Mom (and, therefore, kids since they feed off everything we say, do, and feel) starts to doubt. She starts to fret about her choices and actions in her homeschool.
Homeschool ain’t easy. (I type that with a cringe because the use of ain’t just drives me bonkers-thanks to my 8th grade teacher! I took a big grammatical leap of faith there!)) As homeschoolers, we are faced with many responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is the selection of what, how, when, where, and why we are teaching our kids.
When I began our homeschool journey, one of the first dilemmas I faced was what type of homeschool would we have. I was ignorant to all of the homeschool approaches and curricula. I remember researching on Pinterest and Google thinking, “Oh my good gravy! What am I getting us into? I will never be able to sort all of this out!”
I came to the realization that homeschoolers have quite a few labels (like most groups do). Labels provide a certain level of comfort by helping define what something is or isn’t. As homeschoolers, we are often outliers-rogue members of our community who seek something different for our families. It is no wonder that we use labels to give us a feeling of acceptance and unity.
The problem with labels, however, rests in how they are used.
Labels are dual-edged swords. They allow for sorting and grouping. They permit like-minded individuals to discover resources and opportunities that may be beneficial to the group.
Unfortunately, labels also separate. They create a “us vs. them” mentality. A holier-than-thou type of approach. Pigeonholing, if you will.
This type of homeschool negativity just needs to get kicked to the curb!
Homeschool Comparisons: Let’s Kick’em To The Curb!
There are tons of homeschool approaches and curricula. Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, and Montessori. Saxon, Abeka, Teaching Textbooks, and Sonlight. Isn’t it wonderful that we have so many options?
It truly is! For just as many approaches and curricula out there, we have thousands of homeschool families. And each of these homeschool families is unique.
I would venture to say that even if you strictly follow a specific homeschool approach and curriculum, your homeschool will look differently than another family using the exact same approach and curriculum.
All of the following are just a handful of ways that your homeschool family is different than another:
Even in pristine laboratory conditions, no two families will present homeschooling in the same fashion. Differences in personalities and development, as well as life experiences, will create a unique sense of homeschool for each family.
And that is a marvelously beautiful thing!
Shed The Labels-Be Free Of Homeschool Comparisons!
Take a close look at the labels you commonly hear and use. Are they serving a positive purpose? Are these labels allowing you to better home educate your children and find satisfaction in your daily life?
Do these homeschool labels build you-and others-up?
In my experience, labels are used by some to cover feelings of inadequacy by bathing themselves in a sheer of superiority. By looking down one’s nose at other homeschool approaches, a false sense of pride and self-justification is established. In other words, I can feel better about my lack of confidence in my own homeschool choices by putting yours down.
Don’t take me wrong-I think that it is wonderful to believe strongly in a homeschool approach and curriculum. If it works for your family, kudos! Keep with it!
Just don’t use it to as a means of homeschool comparison.
We are all children of God, trying to do our very best. We love our families, our kids. We legitimately want to find the ideal way to educate our children at home while best completing all of our responsibilities.
I ask you to consider letting go of the labels. Does that mean to never utter the phrase “Classical Homeschooler” or “I’m a unschooler” again? Absolutely not!
We are already bucking the system. We have enough opposition that we face on a daily basis from the outside world. We face challenges from friends, family, and government. I may sound hippie here but I’m going for it: Let’s just all get along and love on each other!
Support! Encouragement! Understanding!
Your kids hates math-so does mine! My kid melts down when I utter the word writing-yours does too?
Do you see where I’m going with that?
What To Do When Homeschool Comparisons Brings You Down
If you are suffering in any way due to homeschool comparisons, please know that you are not alone. I have not met a homeschooler who has not struggled with comparison.
As with the other homeschool struggles, I encourage you to look at your thoughts and feelings surrounding homeschool comparisons.
Look for irrational thoughts (should, must, have to, can’t stand). Tweak out the irrational-and replace with positive! (more on this technique soon!)
Do a reality check-an honest look at your family and its needs. Sure, Montessori Homeschooling looks brilliant to me. I just do not think it is a good fit for our family.
Count your homeschool blessings. The grass is always greener…
Do a self-assessment, looking at strengths and weaknesses. It is okay to not be able to do everything. It is okay to focus on what you are good at and enjoy (and outsource those weak areas!)
Look at your kids and their learning styles, personalities, ages, and abilities. (For a great resource on kids and their personalities, check out The Nitty Gritty Mom!)
Determine your homeschool goals. The latest and greatest homeschool curriculum may look all shiny and pretty but does it mesh with your goals?
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I would love for you to join me and other homeschoolers on Periscope Tuesdays and Thursdays around 3:30 pm ET. We chat more about homeschool struggles and what we can do to overcome. I have found some amazing ideas and tips from these homeschoolers-and I know that you will too!
For more on overcoming homeschool struggles, check out these posts: