If you have been homeschooling for very long (like more than a week) you may have experienced an invasion of self-doubt. You know what it looks like. When it shows up, you begin to wonder what in the world ever convinced you that you could homeschool in the first place. It’s those times when the should-have and what-if moments seem to overwhelm you. When you question your methods, your motives and your sanity. The what-if questions are pretty hard to handle when you’re feeling inadequate and unqualified. But there is hope. Here are some ways to put self-doubt on the run.
Find some support. What happens when a country is invaded? What is the first thing they do? They call in their allies of course. They find those who will support them and ask for help. As homeschoolers, we have many more allies now that when I first began back in the early 1990s. If you haven’t already done so, find some kindred spirits who will encourage you when you feel like things aren’t going well. You can do this through a homeschool support group or on your own. Look for other homeschoolers in your church or at your local library. Sometimes the children’s librarian will know who the homeschoolers are but they are easy to spot. Just look for families with school age children who are at the library in the middle of the day!
Resist the temptation to compare your children to their public school age groups. It’s really like comparing apples to oranges. The longer you homeschool, the less your children will act or learn like public school students. You may actually be stunting their growth to compare them to those in a school setting. And you likely won’t be covering the exact same information at the same time anyway, unless you use all the same curriculum, so there really is no comparison.
Look at the big picture. There will be days, weeks, months, even years that don’t go as you had hoped. Illness, family emergencies, new jobs and schedules all require adjustments and cause disruptions in your homeschool. Around March of every year, I struggle with the feeling that we haven’t really done enough learning and the end of the school year is on the horizon. I used to really panic about this. Some years I felt like the whole year was questionable as far as what I considered valuable learning. But eventually I learned that homeschooling has a sort of ebb and flow to it. Some years we don’t seem to get much accomplished and other years we go beyond my expectations. It all evens out. I look at my sons now and see responsible men who are taking care of their families and who are succeeding in their careers and I feel so thankful that we persevered through the rough times. There is no evidence of any damage or handicap in their lives because of my perceived shortcomings during their homeschooling years.
Focus on what’s working. Maybe some areas of your homeschooling are really a struggle. The best thing you can do for yourself and your students is to focus on the areas where they are excelling. Find those subjects where you are seeing improvement, where you are seeing excitement for learning, and spend extra time there. It won’t hurt them to put the difficult things on hold for a while. You’ll all find your confidence again and feel ready to tackle the harder lessons after you have felt success for a while. Learning is a life-long process, taking a break doesn’t mean failure. All it means is that you are regrouping and working on a different strategy. Sometimes a little distance from the hard stuff will give you new insight into what may work better.
Finally, remember that you can’t teach them EVERYTHING. Your job is to teach them to learn and to encourage a life-long love for learning. If you do that, then you will have succeeded even if you don’t cover everything in every book you use. God gave you your children for a season. All he expects is that you do your best. He’ll take it from there.
Here are some additional resources you might find helpful. http://www.homeschool-how-to.com/avoiding-homeschool-burnout.html. This article has excellent suggestions. I think you will find the whole website to be helpful. If you just want to see that you are not alone, read this mom’s experience with self-doubt. I know you will be encouraged.
http://www.crosswalk.com/family/homeschool/the-self-doubt-express-1251489.html This website is a group of homeschool moms who share valuable information about all areas of homeschooling.
This article specifically speaks to self-doubt but there are other excellent articles as well. http://nextgenhomeschool.com/2013/02/15/when-in-doubt-seek-support/