As homeschool moms*, we usually know somewhere in our heads that we are our children's best teacher. But getting our hearts to believe that can be another story. When we're honest, many of us face a nagging fear that we just don't measure up. We fall prey to myths about "good homeschool moms."
It can be easy (and quite discouraging) to look around and assume other moms have it all together ... that we're the only ones who ever struggle.
As someone who has been there, done that, and made it to a new stage of parenting (where I get to enjoy my grandkids and interact with my self-sufficient adult children), let me encourage you here. Let's debunk a few discouraging myths that just aren't true.
Myth #1: All "good homeschool moms" have children who perform above average.
If your child is ready for college-level work at age 14, that's great. But far more of us have children who are "average" or struggling. And that's okay, too. Really. Some children learn to read at age 3. Some learn to read at age 8 or later. Neither scenario makes that child more or less loved and valuable in your eyes or God's.
Just as students in a school system range widely in their abilities, so too in our homes. Even with that variation, homeschoolers' scores on standardized tests still average significantly higher than non-homeschoolers. Plus, homeschoolers consistently receive personalized instruction from a teacher who cares greatly about their well-being and success. So wherever your students are academically, rest assured, you are serving your children exceedingly well.
If your children are "ahead" in some subjects and "behind" in others, or on target in everything, or behind in everything, you're in good company. Many Sonlight moms teach children who need extra guidance or a slower pace academically. And many Sonlight moms teach children with special needs or learning challenges.
One of my favorite benefits of homeschooling: We can meet our children wherever they are. We can focus on their unique needs.
Myth #2: "Good homeschool moms" never struggle.
While some moms make it look easy to gracefully manage their home and homeschool, we all struggle at times. As mother, teacher and manager of our household, each role includes a broad range of tasks. So give yourself some credit: you love your children and are striving (albeit imperfectly) to follow God during this unique season. That is a praiseworthy thing indeed.
Myth #3: "Good homeschool moms" always have complete mastery of the material their kids are learning.
Ever find yourself learning something new as you homeschool? Me too! I think that's great. In fact, this is another joy of homeschooling: we get to learn alongside our children and continue in a lifetime of growth and learning.
And remember that once kids get into high school, many homeschool moms become more of a learning coach instead of the primary instructor. If you'd rather not teach Chemistry and Algebra, you can still coach your children as they use quality self-teaching programs. They get to learn upper-level skills and valuable self-motivation at the same time.
Myth #4: "Good homeschool moms" love every minute of their homeschool.
I believe homeschooling is a worthy and delightful calling. But who loves every minute of anything? As with all endeavors, homeschooling comes with good days and bad days. Good seasons and more difficult seasons. Even if you strive for a positive attitude and continually thank the Lord for his blessings, there will probably be days when you dream of just sipping lemonade at a quiet, solitary beach.
Let me encourage you with what I wrote awhile ago, that life will not always be as it is now. Though Satan tries to trick us into despair, he does not know the future, so we choose to trust God instead. I pray that gives you some hope when you face struggles.
That said, I don't believe it's helpful to indulge in daydreams of a time when the kids and life are perfect. I appreciate the honesty and wisdom of a phrase used by a Sonlight mom on her signature: "It is counterproductive for me to dream of days that belong in a season other than the one I'm in."
Myth #5: "Good homeschool moms" should pour every last ounce of energy into their children.
Do you feel guilty for seeking out 30 minutes of solitude? Perhaps that solitude is the best thing you can do for your children. We all recharge in different ways, so find out what works for you and make it a priority.
Whether that is making time to exercise (don't underestimate the value of endorphins!), spending quiet time in prayer and Bible study, or making sure that you and your husband get to sit down and have real conversation together, I'd encourage you to be a good steward of yourself.
May God bless you and your family abundantly right now. May He remind you that He is always with you and His love for you never changes … no matter how good of a homeschool mom you feel like today.
*I should clarify that the Sonlight community includes more than just great homeschool moms. We have great homeschool dads as well! If you're a dad, thank you for the work you do, and please pardon me as I speak directly to moms here. I do hope that you, too, can relate to much of what I share above.