We’ve made the decision to homeschool. We’ve turned away from the pressures of trying to compete with the public school and we’re good with our decision to be a little different. We’ve found our curriculum, we’ve organized our supplies, and we’re really happy with how we’ve decided to proceed. Invariably, though, we’ll find ourselves in a conversation like this:
Us: “So, you homeschool too?”
Them: “Why, yes, I do. I’ve had all twenty-four of my children at home, with no drugs, and I’ve taught them at home since birth. They all said their ABC’s shortly after their first diaper change, and my seven-year-old is about to graduate from medical school. And you?”
Us: (feeling insecure) “We really enjoy homeschooling, too. We’re having a lot of fun.”
Them: “Isn’t it wonderful? Oh, and I shouldn’t brag, but my little Timmy, my toddler, he’s already doing algebra. Are you using (insert name of curriculum here)?”
Us: (wondering why we never heard of that program) “No, we’re just kind of doing our own thing.”
Them: “Well, you should try it. It’s the best program I’ve ever found. It’s only ten million dollars per book – best money I ever spent.”
Conversations like this with other homeschooling parents can leave us feeling insufficient, incapable, and like we’re somehow failing our children. Why do other families seem to have it all together, when we’re falling apart? Suddenly, the schedule we used to enjoy seems too lax. We should get our children up at six and add an additional hour to their math studies. We should skip our afternoon library trip and hunker down over geography. And we should definitely run out and buy the most expensive curriculum books we can buy. We’re not showing our children we love them otherwise.
The fact of the matter is this: every family will hit on what works for them, and you don’t have to compare yourself to other homeschool families. You have no reason to feel insufficient, or less than, if your children can’t recite the entire Constitution by the age of eight. You are doing what you feel is right for your own family, and you need to concentrate on that.
Just as you try to avoid feeling competitive with public school families, try to avoid that same kind of competition with other homeschool families. The only thing that will come of it is feelings of inadequacy, and that doesn’t lead to a nurturing environment.