The Myth of the Perfect Homeschooler: Choosing to Accept Your School and Yourself
You have all met her. The perfect homeschooler. She has 4 children, no wait, 5. And one on the way. There’s always one on the way. And yet she doesn’t seem frazzled. She breastfeeds while running her daily 5k. Her children all wear matching shoes. They appear washed and groomed. She even takes them to Costco. On Saturday. She’s like a comic book heroine. And it drives you crazy, secretly.
I’ve had a few perfect homeschooler friends, PHF’s for short. They are some of my favorite people. So high functioning, so awesome. Their homeschool bookshelves are a thing of beauty.
One of my PHF’s ordered and dissected frogs and organs with her kids, just for fun. Another one had her elementary aged kids taking philosophy and logic. Bravo!
Sometimes I walked away from these friends’ homes and thought, “Amazing. I haven’t ever thought of teaching logic at this age.” But many times, I actually thought, “We’re doomed! My kids will never even matriculate from home school. They are going to be uneducated weirdos.”
It didn’t take too long to realize – that version of homeschool is simply not me. Not in my wildest dreams. I don’t actually need to teach logic in elementary school, and I don’t have to touch organs if that’s not my thing. I don’t want to pack my kids’ days with every subject imaginable, partly because academics is not my only goal!
At some point in each of our homeschool careers, (yes they are careers), we have to figure out what kind of homeschoolers we are and face any fears we have about the choices we are making.
After all, I am never going to be the PHF. I just stand around making her look good. So who should I compare to? And is my homeschool plan enough for my kids?
The answer is emphatically, unequivocally YES!
Now, I am not in the camp that believes homeschooling is for every parent, or every family. But if you are giving it your best effort as a parent and as a homeschooler, you are enough for your kids.
Homeschooling was never about perfection. It was never about being a miniature traditional school. It was about YOUR kids having YOU, the person who loves them the most, as their guide, mentor, and educator.
You know your kids inside and out. You know what lights up their eyes, what motivates them. You know when they need a break. You know when they need to be pushed. You can tailor their learning to them. What a privilege.
If you don’t know these things about your kids yet, don’t panic. You love them enough to take the time to figure it out. You have time for trial and error.
And frankly, you love them enough that if homeschooling stops being the best thing for your family or one of your children, you will make the tough, brave choices that need to be made. But you get to make the choice. Such a luxury.
So don’t waste a second worrying about what PHF is doing. You wouldn’t really want to trade places with her anyway. You might get her perfect homeschool table with the neatly organized colored pencils, but you would also take on her unique set of problems, her deficiencies that you don’t even know about right now.
Maximize your own gifts and bless your children with them. If you excel at art, go crazy with art time and incorporate it into other subjects. Outsource your science to someone who loves frogs.
Figure out what makes you great and appreciate yourself as a teacher for that. God didn’t make a mistake when he gave those kids to you.
Finally, when you see something in yourself as a mom or teacher that seems less-than, make note of it, but don’t let it sink you and undermine everything you are accomplishing.
Continue to work on your rough edges, seek our advice from homeschoolers with older kids, pray about the struggles you have as a mom and teacher. Keep pressing on. Just don’t waste your energy on comparisons. They only steal your joy.
Do you ever feel insecure about your home school? What do you do about that?