My First Rollercoaster Ride

Even at the beginning of my journey, I’m discovering what a confidence rollercoaster homeschooling can be. We made the decision to homeschool our kids, and it felt great. The more research I did, the more excited I became about the possibilities spread wide open before me. I assertively began telling anyone who would listen to me why homeschooling was such an amazing choice for my family. I was on cloud nine and feeling great.

At the park one day, another mother was asking me if my oldest was starting kindergarten this year or next. Neither, I explained, we were planning to homeschool. “Oh.” She said, “What program are you going to use?” Program? Was I supposed to have a program? I hadn’t given it much thought. How about the Krystal-Swan-winging-it-program? Did that count? As I struggled to give her some kind of answer, the doubts started creeping in. Was I cut out for this, really? I didn’t even know what program I was going to use. Maybe homeschooling is only for people who are super organized. I thought about how frustrating it was to spend several hours preparing fun preschool activities to do with my four year old, but when we sat down together, he wanted nothing to do with it. What if that’s how every day turned out? And I thought of the other women in my homeschool group who I look up to and admire so much, they all seem to have their acts together. They have time to do things like couponing, and organic gardening, and raising their own chickens; things I only dream about being able to accomplish. And they all have more kids than I do.  My confidence in my ability to homeschool seemed to be taking a nose dive.

I still don’t feel like I’ve been around long enough to give advice, but here are the things that really picked me up and got me back on track this time.

Prayer and faith.  

I’d considered giving up…but only for about three seconds. We have prayed about the decision to homeschool. We know it’s the right choice for us. I have faith in the answers that we were given. For us, I know that quitting is not the answer right now.

Perspective and mindset.  

What am I really trying to accomplish here, anyway? What is the “big picture”? Those are two questions I tried to answer for myself. At a Park Day, the topic what to do with your baby while you’re trying to teach the older kids came up. One of the ladies shared an article with us called The Baby IS the Lesson by Diane Hopkins. This article had such a positive influence on me. I’d been focusing on and stressing about the wrong things. I also came across this scripture in Mosiah 4:27;

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."

and realized that by comparing myself to the other homeschool moms I know, I was trying to run faster than I am able.

Schedule and style.

It also became apparent that I was trying to schedule too much at once. I’ve been trying to decide what I want for preschool next year. Whether I want to keep it informal like we have been, or if I want to try having a set amount of time each day where we’d do school, with a certain list of topics to cover, and things to learn, etc. I’d seen examples of elaborate ways of scheduling a school year online, and had been attempting to copy them. If that style fit my personality type, all would be fine and good, but it doesn’t. Not at all. Once it occurred to me that instead of stressing myself out trying to keep to an outrageous schedule, I should be scheduling only what I was willing to stick to, my life got a whole lot happier.

Resources and mentors.

I’d be sunk without awesome resources and mentors. My sister-in-law, Lisa Goff (who writes The Living School Room column) is such a wonderful example and encouragement to me. Knowing that she is willing to answer my endless questions makes a huge difference. My homeschool group is amazing. It’s so nice to interact with other people who have/or have had the same concerns, questions, experiences, and problems that I have. And even if we don’t come to any immediate conclusions, we are there for each other.  Homeschool sites, blogs, and newsletters on the internet are great resources to turn to when I am fresh out of ideas. It’s helpful to connect with other homeschoolers all around the world and see what works and what doesn’t work, or to find a new approach, or an activity that’s already been planned out.

These few simple things are getting me back up to the top of the hill. Thankfully, even after a little dip in confidence, my excitement for homeschooling is still there. What kinds of things help you on your roller coaster rides?

You can leave your thoughts, comments or suggestions here on my feedback page. Thanks!

- Krystal