I once felt like this too.
Before I had children I had the lovely idea that one day I would take them out of school for a term, travel the world and home school them. Those imaginary children in my imaginary scenario would be delighted by what they saw and sit quietly to read or do maths or compose essays about their experiences. Is that an evil laugh I hear? Yes, I hear it too. It has been said that the best parents are the ones with no children at all, and right then, I was not just an excellent and worldly mother, my children were brilliant, loved every minute of travelling, and wrote novels before they were 18.
Cue real life. Once I had children of my own, how different it was. I was way more concerned about how I could potentially ruin their life and have them in therapy rather than writing novels. The home schooling dream didn’t die, it just changed. It became more real. I spoke to some other wise souls about my concerns and here I am today.
What if I ruin their life?
It sounds catastrophic but it was a real fear, to be honest, still is sometimes. At the beginning I decided to home educate for a school term to see how it went. Taking that leap was almost as big of a leap as getting married. Except this time, I had the potential to make bad decisions for people other than just myself. School had to get really bad before I thought what I had to offer was better.
Remember, It could be the best decision you ever make. Keeping this at the forefront of your mind is important. If it helps, tell yourself (and others) that you are giving it a try. Thinking ahead too far can just add unnecessary pressure. At first, you may decide to see how it goes and make your decisions from there. School will always be there if you decide to go back.
I’m not a teacher.
You got them this far. Your child learnt to feed, eat, crawl, walk, talk. With your gentle guidance they learnt these skills, with some innate knowledge of their own. You simply facilitated their learning. You started them with foods that would be easy to chew with tiny teeth, you held their hands while they learned to walk. Society has told us that beyond this, school takes over. This was not always the case, and you are completely capable (can you do a google search, can you take out a library book?) of finding out anything you need to know. Just as you guided them to learn these first skills, or they just did them, you can continue to guide them in their further understanding of the world.
If you are looking ahead, or are contemplating home educating an older child, if you simply can’t give your child what they need, then you find someone who can. For example, I opted out of maths in year ten and it has never been a strong subject for me. I advertised on a free forum through our local university for a maths tutor. Jo has been coming to us once a week, sometimes twice and covering maths for the three older children. She loves maths and her enthusiasm comes across to the kids. Find an expert when you need to. In comparison to school fees and costs, it is cost effective.
I don’t know where to start.
Start at the beginning. Do a quick search and find out what the home education laws are in your area. It varies a lot depending on what country and state you live in. There is usually a registration process. A search for regulations in your area will get you on your way.
The opposite of fear is trust.
As the poet Hafiz writes, “Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d rather see you in better living conditions.” Making decisions in fear rarely leads to the desired outcome. Having faith that you have made a decision for the best interests of your child will encourage you to act in faith rather than fear. When you trust in the process of learning, and that in time, your child will learn what s/he needs to, that trust will pass on to your child.
You’re a guide not a teacher.
I like to think of myself as a guide. I facilitate my children’s learning. My goal is for them to be working independently as soon as possible, so encouraging them to be self-motivated and self-directed is a high priority.
Maria Montessori said “Help me to do it myself.”
You love your child and want the best for them, so you are the perfect person to guide their learning.
“Let the teacher not lose sight of the fact that the goal sought is not an immediate one – not the hike – but rather to make the spiritual being which she is educating capable of finding his way by himself.” Maria Montessori
Who better than a parent to do this?
Your confidence will grow.
What starts as the tiny seed of an idea will grow. Meeting and talking to other home schooling families is vital. When I first started home schooling my oldest daughter was 6, with her sister 4 and their brother under a year. A home schooling mum with lots of experience ran an open house once a week for anyone wanting to come for play and chat. I looked forward to that group more than I can say, and asked questions each week to the more experienced mothers. Being part of a community fed my soul and my confidence. The little seed grew, and here I am over ten years later, totally confident that I made the right choice for my children’s education. Taking the leap is the hard part, the good part comes straight after.
I offer you my encouragement, and what I knowledge I do have, in the hope that you will feel confident to make this change for your family.
Questions are welcome in the comments section.