Homeschool challenges often lead to feelings of frustration and incompetence for many parents. If you’re struggling to homeschool, you’re not alone. There are many reasons why homeschool challenges emerge, but after six years of interacting with hundreds of homeschool parents, the following reasons are common denominators.
Here are seven reasons you may be struggling to homeschool.
1. You haven’t redefined education for your family.
Unschooling your mind is a great way to freshen your perspective on education and adopt a homeschool method that helps your children soar. Unfortunately, many parents still hold their children to the standards of traditional schooling. Remember, you aren’t an institution with hundreds of students to manage. Traditional schools implement a different education protocol because it’s impossible to nurture the children’s individual needs in their care. That protocol typically involves a fixation on test scores, academic standards, and a one-size-fits-all curriculum that marginalizes both gifted and struggling students. All these elements facilitate record-keeping for the hundreds of students that enter their campus each year. That protocol (arguably) works for the school system but can be damaging when trying to replicate at home.
You don’t have to reduce education to test scores, academic standards, or a one-size-fits-all curriculum at home. In fact, the freedom of homeschooling is rediscovering education through the eyes of your children. You have the benefit of discovering how your children learn best and catering to their learning style. I call this process, “unveiling their inner genius.” If you’d like more information about unveiling your child’s inner genius, read my post on assessing different learning styles.
2. You’re Doing It Alone.
Communities provide that sense of belonging we all need as human beings. They offer accountability and help combat feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, and loneliness in homeschooling families. They also provide social opportunities and a chance to develop strong relationships and shared experiences with others. I wouldn’t venture to say your homeschool is doomed without one, but I will say that a lack of community can intensify the struggle of an already challenging journey.
It can be difficult to find the right homeschool community for your family, especially if you don’t live in a metropolitan area. Your local library is a great place to start, as that is where homeschoolers tend to frequent. These days, many homeschoolers are utilizing online social media platforms to create local and remote communities. These are spaces where you can ask pertinent questions and receive advice and support from other homeschoolers. If the group you’re looking for doesn’t exist, create one!
3. You have backseat drivers onboard.
Perhaps there are people in your life who excessively comment on the actions and decisions you make as a homeschooling parent; people who attempt to usurp your authority and control your homeschool journey through unsolicited advice. But, just like a backseat driver in a vehicle can cause a car-wreck, backseat drivers that you’ve taken along your homeschool journey can wreck your homeschool. So, pull over and kick them out of the car immediately!
Backseat drivers criticize because they feel you are taking risks that they wouldn’t take themselves. Their unsolicited advice and opinions are toxic because they’re coming from a place of fear rather than love. The best way to handle the backseat drivers in your life is to set clear boundaries. Resist the urge to overexplain or prove yourself to these individuals. Remember, it is not your responsibility to make them comfortable with the decision you made for your family’s best interest.
4. Your children don’t respect you.
Mutual respect plays a major role in healthy homeschool families. Chances are, if your children don’t respect you, it will become virtually impossible to help them reach their academic and socio-emotional potential. For this reason, parents who allow disrespect to run rampant in their homes often find themselves amid significant homeschool problems.
Disrespect can go unchecked for many reasons, but mainly because most parents are unsure how to change the behavior. If this is you, I’m not here to judge. Instead, I want to help you regain authority so that your homeschool can soar. So, where do you start? Set clear expectations, fair consequences, and consistently follow through. There’s no shortcut. Lack of follow-through is among the primary reasons why children lose respect for their parents. So, mean what you say and resist the urge to spew empty threats.
5. You need back-pocket solutions.
It’s helpful to foresee potential challenges in your homeschool and create remedies in advance. I call these remedies “back-pocket solutions,” as they are available to use for your advantage whenever you need them. Challenges that may call for a back-pocket solution are tantrums, defiance, sibling conflicts, illness, socialization, naysayers, a change in family dynamics such as a new baby, etc. Having a solid plan to combat these common homeschool challenges will help you thrive when they occur.
How do you construct a solid plan? Research. You can use a search engine to research common homeschool challenges or ask veteran homeschool moms for their advice. Type and print out any tips you deem useful and place them into a binder titled Back-Pocket Solutions. It’s like having your own troubleshooting book for homeschool!
6. You lack structure.
All healthy homeschools have a solid structure. Your structure is essentially your fortification. It is what your children rely on to feel confident and safe. It is also what you rely on to keep going when the going gets tough. I’m not talking about mere routine, but your homeschool framework and the foundation it’s built upon. That framework is your vision, mission, and core values. Without these elements, your homeschool will lack stability and become subject to the many storms that come to challenge you.
How do you build a solid framework for your homeschool? Read my post, Before You start Homeschooling, Do This, to get started.
7. Homeschool has stolen your identity.
Lesson planning, field trips, co-ops, playdates, and organized sports can fill your life with a never-ending to-do list. Couple that with a laundry list of extracurricular activities like dance, theater, and horseback riding, and it’s easy to see how your identity gets lost in the chaos. It can be frustrating when you come to terms with the fact that you don’t have the time, freedom, or energy to be who you once were. That frustration can manifest in your homeschool and take on a life of its own, bearing fruit to depression, loneliness, anger, and resentment—which will indefinitely hit your children in the crossfire.
The truth is homeschooling hasn’t stolen your identity, your identity has evolved. This is who you are for a while, so embrace it and remain present. The great news is that life is full of seasons, and there is a time for everything. Soon, there’ll be a time when your children are self-sufficient, and you can devote more of yourself to your interests and hobbies. In the meantime, take homeschooling as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and be sure to regularly carve out time that is just for you, even it’s only for thirty-minutes a day.