I am approaching my sixteenth year of homeschooling (I think – the years kind of run together after a while). I’ve graduated one child. She’s gainfully employed, and we’re still speaking to each other. I call that a homeschool success.
However, you won’t hear me brag about any of mine being geniuses.
So far, everyone can read, write complete sentences, and do basic math. They have some general idea of geography and have read more than a few classic authors, like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I don’t think they would embarrass themselves (or me) too badly on a person-on-the-street history quiz. Am I the only who has panic attacks when I see those people who can’t answer simple questions, like how many stars are on the American flag?!? Or why we celebrate the Fourth of July?!? Holy moly, I can’t even watch those shows.
Now, we’re not crushing it, like Spelling Bee champions or National Merit scholars, but I think everyone will go on to lead happy, grounded, productive lives.
They will be employable and enjoyable.
That should be the ultimate homeschool success by normal people’s standards.
You might think after all these years, I consider myself an expert, but I don’t. However, I know one secret for homeschool success. This is THE key everyone who homeschools NEEDS to know. Are you ready?
There is no secret.
Like Po in Kung Fu Panda 2, the secret is that there is no secret. Shocking! What does that mean?
It means that every family is unique. Every person is unique. There is no one secret that will work for every single homeschool.
There is no perfect curriculum. There is no do-it-all schedule. No one else is doing it any better than you can do it, regardless of how much they brag on Facebook.
Sure, I know families who have graduated children early or won full college scholarships or finished high school with enough dual credits to skip two years of college. That’s all great. But if mine don’t do that, we are not failures.
We have different priorities, different goals, different abilities, different opportunities, and different schedules.
Different is good and healthy.
This belief that there is some secret to homeschool success we’re missing all comes down to comparison. Used rightly, comparison is a good thing. It’s perfectly fine to ask questions of other homeschoolers, especially ones who have graduated children and have faced similar challenges. It’s normal to consider alternatives when one approach isn’t working. It’s advisable to seek help when you hit a brick wall.
But it is NOT OK to jump on every bandwagon that comes along thinking that it will be the answer to all your problems. One way of teaching is not superior to another, like phonics vs. sight reading. Some kids do well with one way over the other, but neither is the absolute only way to teach reading.
One curriculum is not going to magically teach your child everything they will ever need to know, like Sonlight vs. Abeka vs. Alpha Omega. They all have different approaches, and they are all good. It’s your job, as the homeschool parent, to pick the one that best fits your unique situation. What works for Kasey Know-It-All may not be your answer. Be adult enough to deal with it and find something else. No excuses. No apologies.
Schedules are great. I love schedules, but I can’t follow a single schedule to save my life. Why? Because my life is not like anyone else I know. I work a job outside the home. I am on call for several businesses, and I often have to drop what I’m doing to answer calls and deal with problems. We do what we can when we can, and when we have an interruption, we pick it back up later. Yeah, it gets a little crazy and stressful, but we get it all done.
So, remember when you start doubting yourself, There Is No Secret!
Weeeelllll, there might be one secret.
Homeschooling success boils down to one thing:
Yep, there’s no shortcut to educating children. You keep getting up every day and doing just about the same things over and over and over again.
It’s like Groundhog Day. All. The. Time.
It’s not brilliant curriculum. Or charismatic teaching. Or inspiring field trips.
It’s making breakfast. Having Bible time. Diagramming sentences. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers to infinity and beyond. Reading the same beginner readers for however many children you have. I can quote The Little Red Hen in my sleep. It’s like counting sheep but with chicks, a pig, a dog, and a cat.
Again, don’t believe your Facebook and Instagram friends who post pictures of their perfect projects and splendid field trips. I promise they have days where everyone is crying at the same time and a one page assignment takes three hours. People who don’t admit their problems need therapy. Just saying.
With fifteen-plus years behind me and eight years in front of me, I can definitively say that homeschooling is worth the price. That price is more than money. It is tears and fears and frustrations and doubts and arguments. But the love I have for my children and for teaching them every day is worth every single penny.
I’m starting my next year of homeschool with high hopes but realistic expectations. I know it will involve bad attitudes and difficult days. Homeschool success is what you make of it. I resolve to persevere. I’ll get up every day and do it again. Will you?