It's easy to talk about homeschooling triumphs, when our children excel and soar. Because there is the evidence that what we're doing it right. Just look at how smart they are!
And so we talk about it. A lot.
But it's much more difficult to be open when important skills just don't "click" as quickly as we'd like.
A deep silence often surrounds our struggles.
Silence in part because as parents it is not our story to tell – it's our child's story. We respect their privacy by not speaking publicly about their struggles.
And silence because sharing our truth feels raw and vulnerable.
It's hard to be honest when we feel we have fallen short.
Because what if we're doing it wrong? What if there was a better way and we turned away?
It turns out that when you break all the rules and forge your own path there is a persistent whisper in your mind asking, "Are you certain?"
The worries are constant.
And in our struggle we feel alone.
No one else is falling short. If they were, we reason, they would talk about it. (Except, like us, they don't.)
It's like cleaning up before company comes. We artificially raised the bar so that everyone thinks that everyone else is doing okay, and only we are failing.
Through our silence we build a false story as everyone dances around the simple truth that struggle is universal.
Let's shatter that silence.
Because everyone struggles along the way. Everyone.
I have long been outspoken about the idea that at home there are "no cracks to fall through". And so we make room for trust and hard work and we remind ourselves that there is no schedule we must honor except the internal schedule of each child.
And how different they are from each other! In every way. When they walked or talked or slept through the night; when they learned their multiplication tables or how to read.
I have to remind myself often: each child is different. And there is no "right" pace except their own.
And so when something big does click – something that we've been waiting for and working on and worrying about – well, it's just that much sweeter.
We've all felt it. That moment of exhale when we realize for the first time that we were holding our breath.
Homeschooling parents, you share your path with many. Your worries, your struggles, your consuming hope-meets-fear-meets-prayer that you've done it right.
Not every child is "gifted" in every subject or even at grade level in all things. Working with at your child's ideal pace is part of the freedom of schooling at home. We have the freedom to focus where our kids excel, all the while slowly chipping away at the areas where the struggle.
It's normal. It's childhood. It's learning.
And it's not a race.
Here's to trusting in the journey and marveling at all our children are capable of. And here's to every homeschooler's (and every parent's for that matter) sisyphean task of putting down that fear, day after day after day and falling backwards into trust once more.
Homeschooling parents, you've got this.
And you are not alone.
13 thoughts on “Homeschooling truths”
Well I feel like I’m failing and even if I wanted to shove them in school to get them straightened out I think they’d probably be years behind etc. It’s not such that I think I’m failing but the fact that there is no safety net and I’m beyond anxious. All the time. I don’t think I have this, Rachel. I really don’t. But I am glad you wrote this post.
Sent you a PM, mama. Holding your hand today, from far across the ocean.
You are very sweet and encouraging Rachel. Your voice is needed.
Hello. I came across this post after having a day where I feel like I’m fumbling through the dark. As a new homeschooling Mom your kind words gave me much needed encouragement. Thank you.
You are not alone! I could have written your post. My daughter still doesn’t read, and my 10 year-old still won’t do anything past multiplication facts for math. He did learn to read at 9, though, and I remained calm waiting for that thanks to Rachel’s post about reading. My kids are into the arts/video gaming/computers and won’t do anything else. I have so many moments where I am afraid and wonder if I should just confess that we did it all wrong and that we failed,…and then shoving them off to school to ‘fix it’. Years behind is exactly what I have thought, too. I think we are doing things differently than a lot of people, we are forging paths that are our own, and society in general doesn’t support that, which is fine, but it makes it hard. I don’t have a single person in my life that would not be horrified to hear that my 7 year-old doesn’t read yet. They don’t understand the concept of ‘peaceful parenting’ or unschooling. There is always this general feeling that we aren’t good enough and that we are somehow lazy or not doing the right thing. Anyway, before I write a wall of text… You are not alone. You really aren’t. When I am having a hard time, I try to remind myself.. there is another unschooling mom out there somewhere struggling today, too.
Thank you for this encouragement Rachel. I also needed it. Lots of love to your sweet family.
Thankful to read this on a day when my oldest receives a mark of 63 on a correspondence course she wanted to take and I tried to stay out of. 63!! I need to put her school to fix it, I’m afraid to put her in school because all the cracks of ‘missed’ learning will show. I long for the days when the biggest panic is whether to finger paint or do play dough; I don’t thinkI can do middle and high school, even though I was sure we could. I don’t think this middle aged mama even has the energy. How wonderful to start off our new year in crisis mode…
I happen to stumble across your blog by mere chance and I’m so happy that I did. It’s such a rare gem to find people that truly motivate you to be the best you can and talk your same language, and your blog has definitely done that for me. I’ve shared your blog with other earth minded mommas as well. You may or may not find me power reading through all your endless fascinating blogs. Thanks for bringing light to days it’s needed for me.
THANK YOU! Yes, I needed to hear this today. With my eldest it’s spelling and a lack of ownership of his work. We had a good talk and he says he will try harder, but some days it’s ME – I don’t provide the space or the resources or the time and I’m frightened that my personal lack of getting my shit together is going to ruin their lives! I think we need this honesty in our homeschooling circles because when I look at perfect mama blogs and their perfect hat-knitting, all-singing, all-dancer, sequin-clad superstars I feel ashamed that mine can’t spell ‘please’.
I homeschool my two kids who are like night and day. I absolutely worry that they aren’t “on track” whatever that means… Add to it all there’s been so much family chaos (loss of a parent, loss of a grandparent, another grandparent with a broken hip). I feel at a loss sometimes because I’m stretched so thin and I don’t want to fail my kids. It’s nice to hear other parents have these times, too. Thanks for the article and encouragement.
I needed to read this so much today. Thank you so much for sharing this encouragement!
Perfect. I come back to your blog time and time again. It is so meaningful to know that in this isolated, fragmented culture we are not alone. We are not the only one trying to forge a different path and not the only one with children whose individual path isn’t always smooth and straight. Thank you.