The Most Important Ingredient in a Successful Homeschool….
The most important ingredient in a successful homeschool is not what curriculum you use or what your workspace looks like. It is something much more fundamental that can be found in every thriving homeschool environment, regardless of what books are being used, how many children are being educated, or what educational model a family uses. Without this one thing, your homeschooling will be fraught with difficulties.
I am talking about confidence.
Confidence can make or break your homeschooling endeavors. A high degree of confidence is always found in successful homeschools, while lacking confidence can tank your homeschool efforts.
If you are on the fence about homeschooling, confidence is likely a major factor. Perhaps you have unsympathetic friends and family telling you you’ll “mess your kid up” by taking them out of institutional schooling. Perhaps the voice of discouragement is emanating from your own head:
“I’m not smart enough.”
“I failed Algebra in high school; how can I possibly homeschool math?”
“Education is best left to professionals.”
“What if I make mistakes?”
If you’re feeling this way, don’t worry; there’s not a homeschooler alive who hasn’t grappled with these insecurities at one time or another! The education of our children is a big task with huge implications. It would honestly be odd if we did not occasionally question ourselves. So if you have uncertainties, that means you recognize how important homeschooling is, and that’s a good thing! It’s common to grapple with these sorts of feelings at the outset of any big endeavor.
It is good to keep a few things in mind when dealing with wavering confidence:
Knowledge is Power. If you’re new to homeschooling, shaky confidence is often related to feeling overwhelmed at the magnitude of what you are undertaking. There are so many books, so many programs, so many options. Which are right for your family? Learning the pros and cons of these options can help you feel more empowered in your decision-making. What are the benefits of a boxed program versus a la carte? Is online schooling a good fit for your lifestyle? If so, what is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous classes? This may involve a few months of research, but like anything else in life, the more you know, the more confidence you will have to make the best decisions.
Community is Key. Just because you are not participating in an institutional school does not mean you have to go it alone! Find a homeschooling community and get involved. There are all sorts of homeschooling communities; some, like co-ops, can require a high degree of engagement, while others can be as simple as a Facebook group or email chain. The important thing is that you have a community of other homeschoolers you can visit for guidance, bounce ideas off of, and get moral support. Thousands of other people have been in the same boat as you and have succeeded and are more than willing to support you. We are all in this together!
Change Your Mindset. Sometimes growth in confidence comes from a change in mindset, looking at a problem from a different perspective. If your confidence is tanking, you are probably worried about all the things you can’t do, all the skills you lack, and all the expertise you don’t have. You don’t know chemistry. You’ve never managed a class. You don’t have an education degree. If you only focus on what you don’t have, of course, it will seem intimidating! But let’s take a different perspective and consider what you do bring to the table:
- No one knows your child better than you.
- You know what your child responds to better than any professional.
- You have more scheduling flexibility in your home than any institutional school.
- You have the ability to customize a curriculum just for your child.
- You love your child, unlike a professional.
- Even if you can’t find an answer, you can do the research.
- Even if you can’t teach a subject, you can engage books, resources, or tutors who can.
- It’s okay to learn alongside your child. In fact, it’s a great thing to do!
- There is a huge support network out there for people just like you.
Of course, just changing your viewpoint won’t solve every difficulty, but it will go a long way toward building your confidence that any difficulty can be overcome!
Pray! Don’t forget the spiritual component! As Catholic homeschoolers, we are homeschooling not only for academic reasons but because of the opportunities for character formation and spiritual growth. Catholic homeschooling has a religious component. Pray for your children! Have them pray for you! Ask the Holy Spirit for light and guidance in your decision-making and for virtue in your actions. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Php. 4:13).
Hopefully, you’re already feeling better about your abilities, but if you still need guidance, Homeschool Connections can refer you to personalized homeschool coaching services with various providers, including Susie Lloyd or Jenny Bales, both seasoned homeschool mothers who can help you get a workable system in place for your homeschool.