How Self-Doubt May Be Ruining Your Homeschool

Concerned Caucasian woman sitting on sofa
Getty Images

A seemingly universal emotion among homeschooling parents, whether we choose to admit it or not, is self-doubt. When you’re doing something that is so contrary to the status quo, it’s sometimes difficult to keep the doubts at bay.

It can be effective to acknowledge and explore those doubts and worries from time to time. Doing so can reveal areas that may require shoring up or reassure us that our fears are unfounded.

However, allowing self-doubt to occupy your thoughts and direct your decisions can cripple your homeschool.

Are you guilty of allowing these doubts to ruin your homeschool?

Pushing Your Kids Academically

Self-doubt may be causing you to push your kids academically beyond their stage of developmental readiness. For example, the average child learns to read between the ages of 6-8 years old.

Average is the key word in the statistic. It means that many children will be reading at 6 years old. However, it also means that some kids will be reading much earlier than 6 and some will be reading much later than 8.

In a traditional school setting, functional classroom management dictates that all kids should be reading as soon as possible, so being at the early end of the age spectrum is vital. But in our homeschools, we can wait for our kids to reach developmental readiness – even when it happens a bit later than average.

Pushing kids to perform beyond their capabilities is stressful, creates negative feelings about the subject matter being pushed, and fosters feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy in both parent and child.

Curriculum-hopping

Often when our kids aren’t making progress as quickly as we think they should, we blame our chosen curriculum and start making changes.

While there are certainly occasions when the homeschool curriculum we’ve chosen is not a good fit and should be changed, there are also times when we need to allow the curriculum time to do its job.

Too often, particularly with concept-based subjects such as math and reading, homeschooling parents give up on curriculum while it’s still guiding a student through laying the groundwork for foundational concepts.

Bouncing from curriculum to curriculum can be a frustrating and expensive time-waster and may cause kids to miss important concepts or become bored repeating the same basic foundational steps presented in each new curriculum choice.

Negatively Comparing Your Kids to Others

Self-doubt often seeks to be reassured by comparison, resulting in negative comparisons to a homeschooled student’s public schooled counterparts – or other homeschoolers.

While it may be human nature to want a baseline for reassurance, it helps to remember that because we are educating our children differently, we shouldn’t expect cookie cutter results. It’s unreasonable to expect a homeschooled student to be doing exactly the same things at exactly the same times as other kids in other educational settings.

It can be helpful to consider what others are doing and decide whether or not those things make sense for your child in your homeschool.

However, once you decide that the topic, skill, or concept isn’t applicable to your child at this stage (if ever), don’t continue to stress over it.

Negatively comparing your child to others sets you both up for a sense of failure over unreasonable or inapplicable expectations.

Fear of Long-term Commitment

It’s one thing to homeschool year to year based on a commitment to always provide the best educational opportunity for each of your individual children. (In our case that’s always been homeschooling, but I have known many families who reached a point where they felt that a traditional school setting was in their child’s best interests.)

It’s quite another to do so based on fear and unwillingness to trust in the process. Homeschooling can be hard. It can take many families several years to find their stride.

That’s not to say that learning isn’t taking place during those early years, only that it may take some time for your confidence as a homeschooling parent to grow.

Being too quick to give up on homeschooling or not being fully invested due to a fearful unwillingness to commit long-term can result in feeling enslaved to schedules, curricula, or unreasonable expectations of yourself or your children.

Doubts and fears are normal for homeschooling parents. It’s a scary undertaking to accept full responsibility for your child’s education. Allowing occasional bouts of self-doubt to result in balanced introspection can be healthy, but allowing self-doubt to take over and fear to reign may be ruining your homeschool.

Take an honest look at your fears. If any are warranted, make some course corrections. If they are unfounded, let them go and allow you and your children to relax and reap all the benefits homeschooling has to offer.