SummaryPatricia Purcell highlights the invaluable support moms can give each other as they persevere in the rewarding challenge of homeschooling.
When I first began homeschooling, I was starry-eyed, thinking that I had found the perfect solution to my children’s education.
I was full of hopes for the future, but beneath it all, I was a bundle of nerves. Hoping to find advice and guidance, I eagerly sought the company of other homeschooling moms.
I’m now eight years into my homeschooling journey. In those years, I’ve met many homeschooling moms, both new and experienced, and I have received lots of feedback from them.
I’ve come to realize that there are certain things that one homeschooling mother can say to another to make her feel encouraged in her choices, but there are also other things we can say that will make her feel just the opposite.
1. What not to Say to another Homeschooling Mom
Let’s face it. To the world at large, the very fact that we homeschool makes us different. We all receive negative feedback for our lifestyle choice, whether it is a mocking joke on a TV show or a not so subtle dig from a mother-in-law.
Why then do some homeschooling moms say things that further crush the spirits of their peers?
Whether it is intentional or not, the following are several ways that such women do this.
Needless Bragging: One of the nice things about homeschooling is that students can advance or take longer on individual subjects according to their needs. Every child learns differently. Unfortunately, bragging moms can twist this and cause others to feel that their children aren’t keeping up academically.
As an example from my own life, I once met a woman with a son who was the same age as my youngest (only four or five). Her son, she informed me with a superior look, was reading at a fourth grade level. Since my little guy was still working on Bob Books, that bit of bragging made me feel bad.
A year or so later, I couldn’t help but smile to myself when I saw her post a question about how to teach phonics on one of the local online chat sites.
It’s natural to be proud of our own children and excited by their achievements. However, we moms must be careful not to boast about or exaggerate those accomplishments, making others wonder if they’re falling behind.
Judging Family Size: it’s no secret that families come in all shapes and sizes, and it really shouldn’t matter to anyone else what size your family is. Yet for some reason, some moms love to comment on the number of children others have and imply that a family is too small or too big.
Infertility, miscarriage, and even the ages at which a couple meets and marries can greatly vary family size. What matters is that we are all trying to raise the beautiful families that God has blessed us with in the best way we can.
Being a Know it All: most of us spend hours each summer planning the school year. We agonize over courses and curriculum choices, and we draw up detailed schedules to fit in extracurricular activities. We want the very best for our children; that is why we’re homeschooling after all.
We must be careful, though, not to assume that what is best for our family is also best for everyone else. If someone asks what math curriculum you use, then by all means share your opinion. Just don’t belittle others’ choices if they differ from yours, for they’re surely trying to make the best decisions for their own children.
2. What You Should Say to Homeschooling Moms
Happily, even after avoiding certain topics, there are still a lot of things left for homeschooling mothers to talk about. I’ve often felt that there are some things that happen in my house that only another homeschooling mother will understand!
Offer Encouragement: I can’t emphasize this enough. My kids and I attend a weekly homeschooling social group. Sure, I know that socialization is important for my kids, but I also need this time with other homeschooling moms. I need to hear that people I actually know have successfully navigated the path from homeschooling to college.
I need to know that other people’s kids sometimes struggle with math or learning to read. And I need to talk to other homeschooling moms about these things, because if I try to talk to anyone else (neighbors or relatives that don’t homeschool), they will look at me like I’m crazy and ask, “Why don’t you just send them to school?”
Embrace our Differences: all homeschooling moms bring unique talents to the table. Our education, experiences, and interests vary greatly. This is a good thing.
God not only matched each of us up with the right children for us; He also blessed us with friends that can help us.
Among my circle of friends are moms who plan many activities, such as field trips, clubs, and film festivals. My kids and I benefit from the hard work of these wonderful women, just as (I think) their kids derive some benefit from me.
Acknowledgment: homeschooling moms need to be honest with each other and admit that sometimes homeschooling is hard, and sometimes it can seem like a thankless job. We moms need to cheer each other on and remind each other that what we are doing matters.
So the next time you find yourself speaking with another homeschooling mother, try not to boast or judge. Instead, try to be a ray of sunshine in her day.
I guarantee you that she questions herself and her abilities every day and with every new struggle that comes up with her children. What she needs from you and from all of us is encouragement, prayers, and respect. She’ll do the same for you.
Do you have any topics to add to what homeschooling moms should (or should not) say to each other?