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Why I Stopped Pushing My Kids to “Keep Up” With Public School

Homeschoolers face expectations and judgement everywhere they go. By choosing to remove their child from mainstream education, all eyes are critically watching to see how they perform. We talk a lot about external judgement and pressure, but we don’t often discuss the burden we place on our own shoulders. The truth is, no one is harder on us than ourselves and I was no exception. Day after day, week after week, I was unhappy with my homeschool. I never felt like I was doing enough, I was constantly worried that my children would be behind or look stupid if they couldn’t do what their peers could. I thought the answer was more curriculum. I wanted to make sure there was no gaps and that I was doing the very best I could. I continued to add to our year, filling up our schedule with events and classes and subjects. Until one day I woke up and realized that none of us enjoyed homeschooling anymore. My kids cried and whined every day, “why do we have to do this!” I had lost my homeschool joy and I felt drained and disappointed. Why wasn’t homeschooling looking like I had imagined in my mind? Would my kids be better off in school?

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Why I stopped pushing my kids

This guilt and fear-based homeschooling is a downward spiral. If you have found yourself stuck in it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You feel guilty so you do more, you feel like a failure so you try harder. What really needs to happen is a perspective shift and yet we are so caught up in what we aren’t doing that we fail to see what effect that mentality is having on our homeschool. The good news is that it’s kind of like ripping off a bandaid! Once you recognize that this isn’t the way you want your homeschool to look, the next step is to ditch the pressure and start finding how it needs to look for your family!

I saw that pushing was getting them nowhere. In fact, it was having the opposite effect. Somehow the more I pushed them to read or write, the more they hated it and the worse they did. I was basing my success off of theirs, and I found a flaw with my motivation. Why was this so important to me? Why did it matter if they were taking longer to read then some of their friends? The root of my frustration and stress was that I felt I would look bad. I didn’t want someone to judge me based off of that, so I pushed. I didn’t want my child to be made fun of, so I pushed. And instead of teaching them in a light, fun, relaxed way that inspired them to want to learn… I showed them that what other people think of you is the main concern. Do you see my flaw?

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Click to read: How to Teach Kids to Write using Poetry

You guys, it is a perspective shift! It means evaluating all our curriculum, where our kids are at, and asking ourselves why we are doing this. I had to let go of what other people might think, I had to love and accept my kids for who they were, weaknesses and strengths alike! I had to find ways to identify their struggles and creatively try again. To praise and encourage them for their strengths and teach them how to find confidence in who they are, not compare themselves to other kids their age! In the end, teaching my kids to read when they are 5 or when they are 8 is not going to determine whether or not they graduate. But ruining their self-confidence by pressuring and pushing could effect their desire to learn: a far more detrimental prospect.

Why was I emulating something I disagreed with?

I chose NOT to put my kids in school. I see a lot of disappointing things in our schools you guys, broken things. Our schools rate lower and lower every year, while other countries grades are on the rise. Our very approach to education, the conveyor-belt method, is built to raise blue-collar workers who follow the rules and do exactly what their told. But I want more than that for my kids! So why am I comparing my kids to the very system I lost so much faith in? I knew this in my head but when it came time to the daily grind of homeschooling, I continually went to my old patterns of schedules and lists and checking off the boxes. It took a very deliberate, grandiose action on my behalf to begin to make a change to more relaxed homeschooling (read about the day I abandoned my workbooks here). It took time, it took research, it took taking a break and slowly adding in what I wanted our homeschool to look like piece by piece. It took Brave Writer and hearing encouragement and validation from Julie that I could do this. I needed someone to give me permission, and then show me what that looked like!

I no longer push my kids, I no longer read about learning outcomes or care about them really. I give my kids space to learn if they are struggling and push them if they are excelling. I have FUN with them you guys! We learn together and I take the time to get involved so that I can see firsthand how I may need to adjust my approach and help them better. I base school not on a national average, but on my individual children and their needs. This is why we homeschool, but I think sometimes we need a little reminder and a whole lot of encouragement.

What about you? Is this something you have struggled with?

Comments

  1. Wow, what an inspiring read! Going to save this to re-read regularly!!
    Just started the HS journey with my 11yr old daughter.
    Regards
    Lee Fowler

  2. Great read! The simple truth of “I chose not to send them to public school for a reason”. Why would I push my kids towards that standard when we as a family are capable something much cooler and for us better

  3. YES! Thank you for this! I have a 5 yr old with developmental delays due to CP, two 6 year olds and an 8 year old. I stress so much about this exact thing. I’m trying to relax and just love our learning time but in the back of my mind I think of all the Pinterest posts and I begin to wonder what is considered enough. I have to remind myself daily that I am their biggest cheerleader in life. I am what they need and I am enough. Saving your post!!! Thank you! ❤️

  4. Ok I mean absolutely no disrespect! This is a serious question. I love reading your stuff. My question is how can you do this? I see post all the time saying stop pushing..stop doing what they would do in regular school. I know several homeschooling moms that do this. Their kids are behind. What happens if next year you have something happen and you now have to put them in public school. They go in and haven’t learned what they need? They start grade behind or can’t keep up because they don’t know how to sit and do the school work that is asked of them? Really I’m not trying to be pushy or mean it’s an honest question. My second son hate everything to do with school. But he is very laid back and could care less to learn. It’s a constant fight. But I can’t just stop school or let him tell me what he wants because he wouldn’t do anything. Please help me out here. Help me to understand how this really works

    • Ricki,
      Every homeschool is not the same. What works for your child doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for others. Rebecca’s child may not have a problem with sitting quietly or doing what the teacher asks & that’s the beauty of it all! Having the freedom to tweak things in order for our children to learn in the way that they learn. Something you’ll never find in a public school. And FYI, the facts show that homeschooled kids score higher than public schooled kids. Why? Because of the freedom to individualize our curriculum to fit their needs & I think that was Rebecca’s point in writing this article ?

    • Ricki, How old is your 2d son? He doesn’t like a subject, or reading, or learning in general? What would he do if not ‘in school’?
      If he’s younger than 8-9, he should be play/learning outside! He’ll learn as he plays. If he’s older, whatever he would be doing instead is where you concentrate your schooling! It’s amazing what kids learn when the subject interests them! Reading, writing & math around their interests as a springboard.
      IF something happens and he must be put in govt school, he’ll adjust At That Time! You want to

  5. Thanks for the reminder that we are not alone as moms that worry and as moms that resolve not to! I just finished reading teaching from rest and I cried happy tears of relief that every thing my heart was telling me not to stress about really was for the Lords hands and not for my heart to burden. He has got this so I get to enjoy it!

  6. Hello from Ireland!! I am so so glad I read this.! Thank you thank you! Today was my daughters (7) first homeschool day. I paid a shed load of money on workbooks, wrote a plan and sat down with my daughter to do some fun learning because I was teaching her it was sure to be fun?!! No! It was a disaster and she had ‘I feel like a failure’ on every part of her expression. I’m ditching the workbooks and I’m going to try Brave Writer with her. Wish us luck! ???

  7. This is what I experienced, but early on with parenting in general- not just homeschooling/education. It was the same exact thing with forcing my baby to try to sleep/eat/etc on a set location/schedule/etc. I started listening to my child and adapting to what they were telling me, instead of doing all the talking (dictating), which was often based on what I wanted/needed rather than the child (or what someone else wanted). The natural extension of this has been unschooling. I think so many people are overwhelmed at unschooling because they have done years of the forced stuff it is so ingrained in them they don’t even realize it. They have always deferred to an arbitrary outside source- like a pediatrician’s advice, what the other moms were doing, what the books said, what teachers and “professionals” say, what the curriculum says. Unschooling has naturally developed since I learned the whole parenting shift early on. Parents who learn it later on not only have the struggle of re-training their own habits, but also repairing the damage to the relationship that “forcing” has done. Kids are resilient, so the issues with trust or communication are often not apparent. But once you switch the whole mindset with parenting and teaching you realize how much deeper that relationship could have been and what you had been missing out on.

  8. Did you write this specifically for me? I truly feel like you opened up my mind, peeked in and wrote what I was thinking about myself and my motivations! Thank you, thank you…..you have given me much to ponder.

  9. Thank you for writing this. Both of my kids have learning disabilities and have been struggling with reading & writing. Where we live we have to register with a school board but we can do traditional homeschooling/unschooling. Last year we went with their curriculum and both of my kids were crying because they were struggling. This year I put it back in my hand and we have more of a relaxed homeschooling this year we are doing more play based learning. They still struggling with learning to read but there are less tears.

  10. I needed to read this today. You summed up all my feelings in this blog.
    Thank you, for reminding me why I choose to homeschool.

  11. It took me a while to re-realize also why I am homeschooling my son. He is Autistic and spelling is NOT his thing. He was doing so badly last year getting all his spelling wrong and would cry every week because he just couldn’t get it. Then it hit me early this year, I remembered a post from somewhere else that stated basicly when asked what grade their kids are in they may say “I’m in 4th grade math, 3rd grade spelling, 5th grade science” ect.So when the same problems started again, I realized we needed to go backwards a grade and start again! He has done so much better this year, he couldn’t believe it when he started getting things right. He was so excited and proud of himself.Some kids just need more time to get it in some subjects,while other things they can be more advanced that’s the beauty of homeschool!

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