SummaryHomeschooling may be just what your family needs, but if your extended family doesn’t agree Jennifer Elia has these practical tips to support your decision.
Deciding to homeschool took my husband and I six years.
We honestly thought about it the moment our daughter was born. We read and we researched; we thought and prayed. Both of us are former teachers, so we knew what we did and didn’t want for our children’s education, but it was hard to make that final leap into homeschooling.
When we reached our final decision, our families were not very happy with it. Coming from a long line of public school teachers, my family expected me to support our local school system.
We are now seven years into our homeschooling journey, and little has changed as far as support for our decision. However, we know we are doing our best for our children and working hard to provide them the most complete education possible.
Homeschooling is a big undertaking. It can be a struggle to feel like you are doing the right thing and doing enough, when you swim against the current. Lack of family support can make it harder. Here are ways to cope with extended family:
1. Stand firm in your decision.
When the pressure is on, it is easy to waver and doubt. However, you must stay committed to your choice. No one takes on such a large endeavor lightly. Raising children in the faith and taking charge of their education are the hallmarks of your vocation.
Decide as a family why you have chosen to homeschool and stick to your guns. It is your responsibility and your choice–believe in yourself. No matter how many question you, you have ultimately made the best choice for you and your situation.
2. Highlight your children’s achievements
Share your child’s accomplishments. Invite family to attend homeschool functions. Even if your child receives no report card or award ceremonies at the end of the year, there is much to celebrate. Let your family know how well your child is doing by sharing projects, talents, and progress.
We happily invite family to concerts, presentations, art shows, and performances. We talk about what each child has accomplished in a year or month. We encourage our children to share what they enjoy learning and benchmarks that make them proud–like memorizing that long poem or completing a pre-algebra textbook two months early.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
We live in a very competitive society. Everyone wants to be the best, and discussing grades and awards is commonplace. Try not to feel discouraged or unworthy. In a homeschool, there is less need for public recognitions and endless assessment.
Homeschool teacher-parents know what their child can do and how much he has learned; they do not need award assemblies nor honor roll certificates to tell them that.
Also, remember that doing more isn’t necessarily better. Just because cousin Sally spends twice as much time in school and has five hours of homework each evening does not mean she is learning more or is more accomplished than your child.
One of the greatest advantages of homeschooling is not having to compete–both for teacher attention and recognition. Rest easy in your children getting the best and steer clear of the one-upmanship games.
4. Mums the word
Sometimes not talking about schooling is the best course of action: Sometimes, it is better not to share anything. Is Joseph struggling in math? Are you “behind” in spelling? No one needs to know. These things happen in every school, but are more harshly judged in a homeschool.
Also, your curriculum may not look the same as the public school, but that does not mean it is inferior. Just because the school down the street is teaching algebra in kindergarten doesn’t mean everyone should. Our general rule is to keep discussion of actual curriculum to a minimum, and when others can say nothing nice, just say nothing to them at all.
5. Pray for strength and guidance
There are statistics and trends, but what really changes the world is prayer. Schooling, when you feel alone or attacked, can be hard, emotionally and physically. You are not alone, though. Pray for God to lead you. Pray that He will give you the strength to keep on keeping on, even in the face of criticism. Faith can move mountains.
You may never convince your family that your decision is best, but you don’t have to. Pray to stay the course, no matter what they throw at you.
6. Realize God put YOU in charge of your child’s life
You are his first and best teacher: Everyone has their opinion, and in families, dissenting opinions are often voiced loudest. However, God knows what He is doing and so do you. Homeschooling can be intimidating; it can be overwhelming, exhausting, and not always easy to navigate.
None of that means it is the wrong thing for your family. God chose you! He chose you because you are the parent your child needs.
If your child needed a brick and mortar school, He probably would have led you in that direction or found other parents to do what you don’t. God has given you an awesome responsibility. He will give you the grace to live it out. Trust in Him, especially when it all seems impossible.
7. Include your spouse
The most important person to have on your side, other than God, is your spouse. Discuss why and how you are homeschooling. Decide how best to accommodate the special needs of your unique family. Take each challenge and each year one at a time.
Choose how best to deal with opposition and speak frankly with each other when negativity seems too hard to bear. You can’t present a united voice if you are not united. God gave you each other to support the other, especially in difficult situations.
What does your extended family think of you homeschooling? How have you overcome any negative feelings?