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The Emotional Cost of Homeschooling

alec vanderboom

I feel like there is a lot of support online for the practical aspects of homeschooling, but I've yet to really find much grappling with the emotional costs of homeschooling.

Homeschooling is "not normal", however popular its quickly becoming in certain circles. Being out of the mainstream, means your heart has to fight a serious battle with fear.

"Can I do this?"
"What happens if I mess up?"
"I don't like teaching phonics, why wouldn't I want to outsource elementary school?"
"I'm pregnant, sick, or having a family crisis. My kids might be damaged by my lack of focus right now on their academics."

Another question a friend phrased was "worried about my kids judging me with their adult eyes." For example, "So we're having fun blowing bubbles in kindergarten today. But what about in 30 years, when my daughter is mad that I didn't challenge her developing brain enough by reading Chaucer in the original Middle English at age 5?"

We make the road by walking it. You learn to teach by teaching. Your kid is a unique individual. You are unique. This interplay of teacher/student is sometimes smooth, and sometimes volatile.

I think what has helped me lower the emotional cost of homeschooling is detachment. We homeschool. "shrug." It's one of the things that my family does together--it's not THE thing my family does.

Finally, this year, I'm backing off of my intense focus on my kid's reading success. We are at the stage in 4th and 2nd grade where I've been totally intense, and then totally apathetic, and then mildly depressed about their lack of reading "progress."

Now I show up.
I show up.
I show up with an engaged smile and a patient heart and I'm ready to teach reading skills 5 days a week. My kids can choose to take advantage of that special tutor time with their Mom, or not. Meanwhile, I'm mastering the art of persistence.

 I feel like I'm starting to make the shift to "this is about teaching for God alone." There is this beautiful hymn I sang in a Carmel Mass that said "when I was little you taught me to read." Teaching someone to read is an act of mercy. It's not always fun. It's not always well received. Yet God is always pleased when I do something little, hard, and with a pure intention.

So that is the emotional cost of homeschooling. There are some warm fuzzy days. There are some things that are major suckage.

Know yourself. Know what part of homeschooling is easy and what part is draining to you. Figure out how to pick yourself back up. Teaching is not your job. It's a part of your vocation. If God puts homeschooling in your lap, its because he hand pick this task for you--it will help make you more holy.