What keeps you up nights? Do you find yourself fighting to overcome fear? Do you ever lie awake wondering whether you are equipped to educate your children? Do you wonder whether you are adequately preparing them for life? Do you wonder how they will handle interacting with the world? Will they be ready for college? Will they find a spouse?
If you find yourself asking these questions (and sometimes, figuratively speaking, biting your nails), you’re in good company. I recently asked the question on social media: “What is your greatest fear about homeschooling?”
Within minutes, I received a rush of heartfelt responses. It became clear from the comments that many parents suffer trepidation. A few fears repeatedly surfaced. I was particularly touched by one mom who asked, “It’s obvious that we all have the same fears, but what are we going to do about it?”
Her question moved me to pray . . . and then ask a few trusted homeschool parents and graduates how they would encourage homeschooling parents struggling with fear. If you struggle, I pray their words encourage you and help you overcome your fears.
Let’s tackle three of these:
Fear That You Are Inadequate
“Don’t you need a teaching degree to do that?” Have you heard that question yet? Most of us encounter family members or “friends” who are highly critical of homeschooling. They cross-examine us on our credentials and leave us second-guessing whether we have what it takes to teach.
Yet homeschool families today have countless options for curricula, co-ops, and conferences. Any academic inadequacy can be effectively addressed.
Perhaps awareness of our inadequacies can be one of our greatest assets. Hillary, who has homeschooled for more than a decade and has two homeschool graduates in college, talks about her experience:
I’ve had days when I felt very inadequate. Yet, when I confess my weakness, God steps in and shows up in a big way! Remember that your kids are really on loan to you from your heavenly Father. He has the wisdom we lack and just wants us to ask Him for it.
Fear That Your Mistakes Will Harm Your Children
Sometimes the responsibility that accompanies homeschooling can feel overwhelming. Many parents expressed concern that mistakes they make will have dire consequences for their children. Jane, who has three homeschool graduates and is still educating her youngest child, reminds us:
God chose us to be our children’s parents. He knows what our children need, and He also knows that we will make mistakes. Do we tend to cry out to Him when everything is peachy? Or do we turn to Him in the midst of our trials? Maybe it is through our mistakes that our children (and we ourselves) will actually be drawn closer to God.
Fear That You Are Leaving Too Many Gaps
If you ever worried about how you can possibly teach your children everything they need to learn, be comforted by these words from a certified-public-schoolteacher-turned-homeschooler:
Schools don’t teach our kids enough and neither do we. There are gaps everywhere—and that is fine. What we need to do is teach our children how to learn and help them love learning so it becomes their lifelong habit. Then, when they encounter something they need to learn, they will have the tools to figure out how to learn it for themselves.
What These Fears Might Really Be About
My homeschooling mentor, Beth, observed that all parents struggle with many of these fears—not just homeschoolers. She explained:
During my most challenging times when I homeschooled, when I wanted to quit and call the school bus, I recognized that often the problem had nothing to do with academic education . . . and everything to do with our parent/child relationship or my own weakness or sin. Thus, before any schooling method could be effective, that relationship problem or character issue needed to be addressed.
Homeschooling provides a safe environment in which to develop your children’s character, as well as your own. Consider these wise words from homeschool graduate, Renee:
Homeschooling in no way guarantees salvation or success. Those things belong to the Lord. Don’t homeschool for results. Homeschool as a testimony to your children of your love for God and for them, as a testimony to others of your sincerity in your faith, and as a testimony to God of your dedication to Him. There may be times you feel inadequate or like all your attempts and work are futile, but in Christ you are more than enough. Through Him, you are building the Kingdom of God through your day-to-day time with your children.
Fear not, dear parent! You can trust the One who is able to equip you. Rest in the knowledge that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Copyright 2016, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Annual Print Book 2016 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.