Deciding to homeschool took my husband and I six years. We honestly began thinking about it the moment our daughter was born. We read and we researched, we thought and prayed. Both of us are former teachers, so we knew what we did and didn’t want for our children’s education, but it was still hard to make that final leap into homeschooling.
When we at last reached our final decision, our families were not very happy with it. Coming from a long line of public school teachers, my family expected me to support our local school system.
We are now ten years into our homeschooling journey, and not much has changed as far as support for our decision. However, we know we are doing our best for our children, and working hard to provide them the most complete education possible.
Homeschooling is a big undertaking. It can be a struggle to feel like you are doing the right thing and doing enough when you swim against the current. Lack of family support can make it harder. Here are some ways to cope with extended family.
Stand firm in your decision
When the pressure is on, it is easy to waver and doubt. However, you must stay committed to your choice. No one takes on such a large endeavor lightly. Raising children in the faith, and taking charge of their education are the hallmarks of your vocation. Decide as a family why you have chosen to homeschool and stick to your guns. In the end, it is your responsibility and your choice–believe in yourself. No matter how many question you, you have ultimately made the best choice for you and your situation.
Highlight your children’s achievements
Don’t hesitate to share your child’s accomplishments. Invite family to attend homeschool functions. Even if your child doesn’t receive a report card, or have award ceremonies at the end of the year, there is much to celebrate. Let your family know how well your child is doing by sharing projects, talents, and progress.
We happily invite family to concerts, presentations, art shows, and performances. We talk about what each child has accomplished in a given year or month. We encourage our children to share about what they enjoy learning and benchmarks that make them proud–like memorizing that really long poem, or completing a pre-algebra textbook two months early.
Don’t compare yourself to others
We live in a very competitive society. Everyone wants to be the best, and discussing grades and awards is commonplace. Try not to feel discouraged or unworthy. In a homeschool, there is less need for public recognitions and endless assessment. Homeschool teacher-parents know what their child is capable of doing and how much he has learned, they do not need award assemblies nor honor roll certificates to tell them that.
Also remember that doing more, isn’t necessarily better. Just because cousin Sally spends twice as much time in school and has five hours of homework each evening, does not mean that she is actually learning any more, or more accomplished than your child. One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is not having to compete–both for teacher attention and recognition. Rest easy in the fact that your children are getting the best and steer clear of the one-upmanship games.
Mums the word–sometimes not talking about schooling is the best course of action
There are times that it is better not to share anything. Is Joseph struggling in math? Are you “behind” in spelling? No one needs to know. These things happen in every school, but are more harshly judged in a homeschool.
Also, your curriculum may not look the same as the public school but that does not mean it is inferior. Just because the school down the street is teaching algebra in kindergarten, doesn’t mean everyone should. Our general rule is to keep discussion of actual curriculum to a minimum, and when others can’t say anything nice, just don’t say anything to them at all.
Pray for strength and guidance
There are statistics and trends, but what really changes the world is prayer. Schooling when you feel alone or attacked can be very hard emotionally and physically. You are not alone, though. Pray for God to lead you. Pray that He will give you the strength to keep on keeping on, even in the face of criticism. Faith can move mountains. You may never convince your family that your decision is best, but you don’t have to. Pray to stay the course, no matter what they throw at you.
Realize that God put YOU in charge of your child’s life, you are his first and best teacher
Everyone has their opinion and, in families, dissenting opinions are often voiced loudest. However, God knows what He is doing and so do you. Homeschooling can be intimidating; it can be overwhelming, exhausting, and not always easy to navigate. None of that means it is the wrong thing for your family. God chose you! He chose you because you are the parent your child needs. If your child needed a brick and mortar school, chances are He would have lead you in that direction, or found other parents to do what you don’t. God has given you an awesome responsibility, He will give you the grace to live it out. Trust in Him, especially when it all seems impossible.
Include your spouse
The most important person to have on your side, other than God, is your spouse. Discuss why and how you are homeschooling. Decide how best to accommodate the special needs of your unique family. Take each challenge and each year one at a time. Choose how best to deal with opposition and speak frankly with each other when negativity seems too hard to bear. You can’t present a united voice if you are not united. God gave you each other to support the other especially in difficult situations.
What does your extended family think of you homeschooling? How have you overcome any negative feelings?
Linking up with Kelly who is always ready to support another homeschooling family and just banned all the haters!!