A woman stopped by our house in the middle of the day last week. She was hoping to sell us something. Most interestingly: She had her 7-year-old daughter with her, even though it was a school day.
The woman was obviously smart and was doing a great job training her daughter in how to meet and engage strangers in conversation. Seeing how she interacted with her daughter, and considering the time of day, John asked her if she was homeschooling her daughter.
"Oh no!" she replied. "I haven't got the patience!"
I didn't say anything, but I wished she knew a little secret: I don't think ANY of us feel like we had the patience when we started homeschooling. I know I didn't!
Of course, when friends or strangers explain off the cuff why they could never homeschool, they're usually not seeking a serious discussion. And that's fine. But what about a friend who really wants to consider homeschooling? What do you say when she gets hung up on one of the common "I could never homeschool" reasons?
Fellow Sonlighters on the Forums chimed in with thoughts on this. I paired their insights with mine to create some food for thought on these common reasons:
- "I could never homeschool because I don't have the patience."
This seems to be a very common sentiment. And I can see how it's a legitimate fear. I just wish parents who thought this could know: Homeschool moms are normal people too! We're not ultra-patient wonder-women.
But I also think there's a hidden benefit of homeschooling: It gives you extra opportunities to develop patience. And since patience is a fruit of the Spirit, shouldn't we welcome growth in this area? Although I struggled to be patient with my children (and myself), I really believe that homeschooling helped me to grow and mature here. I've heard many other homeschool moms say the same thing.
- "I can't quit my job. We need two incomes."
Again, I see this as a legitimate fear. It can be very hard to live on one income. But I've seen many, many families make it work because they made it a priority. Every family must choose what's most important to them and make choices accordingly. And if you really believe homeschooling is best for your family, the rewards of homeschooling will probably outweigh the sacrifices you make.
Of course, there are exceptions to this and I expect that, no matter how hard they try, some families simply can't make it work financially to live on one income. But if you have a friend who wants to make the leap from two incomes to one, there are some solid educational resources out there to help her do it. (Miserly Moms can be a helpful introduction to this topic.)
- "I'm not qualified to teach my children."
If a friend lacks confidence that she can teach her children well, you might tell her:
- You know your children better and love them more than anyone else. You quite possibly are the best person to give them a great education. You'll stick with them, learn alongside them and watch them learn and grow. You're simply not going to let them graduate with a poor education.
- You've taught your kids how to walk, talk, dress themselves, and interact with others. You can keep teaching them as they grow! (You could point her to this encouraging podcast for more on this: "You CAN Homeschool.")
- There are LOTS of resources out there to help you. You don't have to create your curriculum from scratch.
- If your kids are young, focus on where they are right now. You don't even have to think about Calculus and Physics for years. (And when you do get there, you'll find plenty of resources to help. You won't actually have to teach the concepts unless you want to.)
- "I'm not organized enough to homeschool."
Fortunately, I have a great answer for this. (I bet you can't guess what it is!) You can get curriculum that organizes your studies for you. As one Sonlight mom said, "I'm not organized. I buy curricula that have Instructor's Guides so that I don't have to figure it all out myself."
Sure, you'll still have to develop some systems. You and your kids will need to keep track of folders, books, assignments and supplies. But with some planning and all the available help out there, you can conquer this hurdle, too. (For starters, try this series of podcasts called "How to Organize your Homeschool.")
- "I'm an introvert. I'd never survive!"
This was my biggest fear when I started homeschooling. If I was cooped up with the kids all day, when would I get the time alone that I need?
Fortunately a good friend graciously offered to babysit every other Friday night so John and I could get away. This was a huge blessing and helped give me confidence to start.
But I also found that I got great quality time with the kids each morning while homeschooling. After that time together, they naturally tended to go off and entertain themselves in the afternoons. We were able to establish homeschool patterns that built in "alone time" for me. If you're also an introvert, you may want to do this too. One popular idea is to create a certain amount of mandatory quiet time each afternoon. The little ones can nap; older children can read or play quietly in their rooms. You can do whatever you need to reenergize for the rest of the day.
If you have friends who are stuck on these "I could never . . ." ideas, a simple glimpse into your life could give them the confidence they need. You could go on a coffee date and share your experiences. Or even invite them over for a day of school so they could see how you do it. Brainstorm with them and help them imagine being successful in this, too!
And the next time your children
drive you crazy give you an opportunity to develop patience (!!!), try to remember that this, too, is a blessing.
Or just take a deep breath and eat some chocolate.
Blessings to you and yours,