Challenges for the New Homeschool Parent
You’ll have more time at home, they said…
You’ll have more quality time with your kids, they said…
You don’t have to worry about testing, they said…
You can adjust your curriculum to your child’s needs, they said…
As rookie homeschool parents these were some of the benefits that convinced us to make the change from public education to a homeschool curriculum. While all of these things sounded great and were some of the things that initially sold us on homeschooling, they also brought some challenges of their own!
In May we completed our first full year of homeschooling. While I count this year a great blessing, the transition wasn’t always smooth and there was definitely a learning curve to schooling at home.
Sometimes we read blog posts or see photos and captions that make us feel that our struggles or hard days are something that only we struggle with – that somehow we just don’t have what it takes to make this work and that other homeschool parents are succeeding in every area, doing in depth studies every day, and even making all the Pinterest crafts as well!
Despite what social media and a great public relations department will tell you that is not always the case.
I’ve found the need to take each day as it comes and not to validate my success as a homeschool parent based on just one day’s struggles or perceived failures.
While I know each family will encounter their own struggles and challenges, here are a few of the things we ran into this first year. And I’m wondering… can you relate?
You will have so much more time and be done by lunch they said!
Many days this was true, however, I quickly began to see the extra time at home as not only a blessing but also a challenge.
Before a global pandemic brought us home, my oldest was in public school while my youngest came with me to our church preschool where I also taught. We were gone about 4 hours a day and once my son got home from school it was homework, dinner, family extracurriculars, and bedtime.
We always felt rushed in the afternoon/evening and homeschooling did provide us a respite from a great deal of that. However, I learned that having more time at home also meant the tendency to push things off until later to do them.
It also meant that I needed to learn to be a better manager of our time, prioritizing schooling first before chores, errands, or extra things that take our time away from school. There were days when I would start off with a doctor’s appointment or something and once we were out of the house it was hard to get back and plugged into school.
While there were things my son could do by himself while I was busy, this brought us to another challenge.
My son became so used to me sitting with him to work on school things that he wanted me to sit beside him even when he could do the work himself.
I know it made him feel more confident to have me nearby, but with another kiddo starting to homeschool this coming year that’s just not going to be sustainable.
He would get super frustrated with certain subjects…ok with MATH…always MATH!
Once I sat beside him it seemed to me that he could do every problem correctly…he just needed that support, but we’ve got to figure out some ways to encourage him not to get so frustrated working independently both for his own development as well as my sanity and ability to have time to work with his younger sister.
Another area where I felt challenged moving from public school to homeschooling was academic assessment.
I know that many of us as students/parents/teachers all struggle with the idea of testing. It’s hard no matter which side you are on, but it does have its benefits. From a teacher’s perspective, it allows us to know what a student has learned – especially when they are coming out of a school environment and into home!
While homeschooling allowed me to be much more involved with what my son was learning, there wasn’t that formal “assessment” piece that allowed me to just scan his grades to make sure he was “getting it.”
On one hand, I feel I have a much deeper understanding of what he knows, how he learns, and where he struggles, but at the same time, it can be a bit of a mystery determining how he’s doing compared to others his age/grade.
Teddy Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy” and one of the true joys of homeschooling has been not having to compare my son to others in the school system, but appreciating him for his own unique abilities.
Let’s face it…it’s not easy because parents usually want to know how their child stacks up against others his own age.
(Maybe I need to remember to Stay in My Own Lane!)
Another area where this caused some tension for me as a new homeschool mom was the idea of state standards.
When we first began homeschooling we weren’t sure whether it would be for more than one year and wanted to make sure that our son didn’t “fall behind” his peers. That being said I began looking at state standards and what he was expected to learn that year in school.
I then looked into various homeschool curriculum and was quickly overwhelmed that many of them didn’t align to a particular grade level as the state defines them.
Ultimately we selected a curriculum that we felt would correlate well with what he would have been learning in fifth grade in the public school, but the questions still lingered at times.
Are we covering the right material?
Will he be able to assimilate back into public school if that’s the route we choose in the future?
Ultimately we’ve decided that homeschooling is our choice for educating our children going forward which reduced the pressure I felt, but there is so much curriculum out there that it’s hard to know for sure that we are covering the right things and sometimes the ugly beast of “are we meeting the state’s requirements?” still raises its head.
It’s hard for this state-certified public school teacher to completely change my mentality where standards are concerned!
How We are Perceived
No surprise here, a final challenge was always others’ opinions of our homeschooling. Whether well-meaning or critical, everyone and I mean EVERYONE has an opinion of our decision to homeschool and is not afraid to share it.
I will say that we were fortunate and most of our friends and family were very supportive of our decision, however along the way we’ve gotten many pieces of “advice” from others on what we should/shouldn’t be doing and how we should/shouldn’t be doing it.
The greatest challenge for me has been the comments on how our son won’t get enough socialization. Ugghhhh…I know you’ve all heard it too!
Feeling the need to always validate that he is indeed social and not merely locked up inside our house with only me to talk to 24 hours a day can be very frustrating.
Homeschooling has been a great blessing for our family. Yes, there have been challenges and there will be new challenges with each and every year. Despite the difficulties we have encountered we have seen our children thrive.
Who can ask for more than our child’s education to provide a wonderful foundation for who God created them to be?
This year, as we begin our first year with two children of varying ages, it will bring more challenges but with some experience and the right perspective, I’m excited to see where this year will lead and feel more than up to the task.
If you are a new (er) homeschooler, download Mary’s 10 Simple Homeschool Tips.
I’d love to hear from you! Are you a relatively new homeschool parent?
What challenges have you faced?
This post is from Homegrown Learners contributor, Allison. She is a wife and mother with a passion for reading. With a background in Early Childhood Education as well as experience working in Corporate America, the events of the past year exposed her to the rewards of teaching her own children at home. She hopes to encourage anyone who has ever been anxious about taking this leap with her own personal successes and failures of her family’s first year of homeschooling.
You might also like:
Let Them Be Little: Cultivating Wonder in Your Homeschool
From School to Home: Why We Abandoned the Ideal of Public School
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