"I Could Never Do That...": 5 Homeschooling Myths (Part 1)

[box]Curious about homeschooling? Want to know what you need to get started? Then this month's posts are for you. Join us in the month of March as we look at some of the things that I have learned over the past ten years of homeschooling our children.[/box] If you've been homeschooling for any length of time, after people find out that you actually have chosen to spend your days educating your children, I usually hear one of these comments:

"You must be so patient! I can't even get my kids to do their homework!" 

OR

"You must be really smart! I can't even do first grade math!" 

OR 

"You must be so organized! I can't even keep track of the papers in their backpack!" 

As I talk to others, I get the impression that there exists some "homeschool mom" picture that everyone who doesn't homeschool subscribes to. Someone who is always smiling, always gracious, always has fun things planned for the kids to do, someone who is organized, creative, and infinitely patient.

Well, I'm not one of those people.

I am here to say that I have made all my kids cry in the course of their school experience, even Anah. Not that I am proud of that fact, but it wouldn't be fair to give the impression that I am always happy with them. Teaching a child to read seems to bring out the "mean mom" in me, for some reason. Mastering math facts comes in at a close second.

Anyways, I thought I'd use this post to address some of these myths that are common to the non-homeschooling community. These are not all of them, but one that I either hear or hear about most often. Here goes:

1. You need to be patient.

Okay, let's be real here. Yes, it is good to be patient. But even the most patient mothers I know, homeschooling or not, get impatient with their kids sometimes. Chalk it up to our sin nature. It. Just. Is. I'm not saying that's an acceptable excuse, but to put that kind of pressure on yourself is unrealistic. Nor if you are sensing the Lord calling you to homeschool, and that one fact is what is hindering you, then rest assured, whether you homeschool or not, you will still be impatient.

For me, I have learned that if I really want to learn patience, I need to let it be tested. I do not learn and grow in patience by avoiding it. Each of my children frustrate me in one way or the other. I bet it's true of yours too. But it's not homeschooling that is the issue. It's us. Homeschooling may bring that out in us more. But I know that whether or not I homeschool, I need to deal with my impatience. And sometimes, I wonder if it isn't the grace of God that has led me to homeschool so that I can develop that character in me.

school2. You need to be creative.

Again, creativity helps. But I'll have to confess that I didn't start out that way. I still am not that way. It isn't my style, at least not when it comes to school. I still prefer just printing out a worksheet or reading a book. Nothing fancy in those methods.

The truth is, every homeschool mom is different, just like each of her kids are different. The trick, I've learned, is to take my learning style and my children's learning styles into consideration. Sometimes I need to bend. I have a hands-on learner. I'm a visual learner. If I know Jonathan likes to do things, I pick curricula that helps him to mess around with manipulatives or draw or create, even though it's not the way I would like to do it. Fortunately, there is so much out there that can do all the creative work for you (check out my TOS reviews for great options!). The question is what to do!

Then there are some times I need to compromise. Sometimes I like the way a particular curricula presents things, even though it's not the  way my child learns. If that is the case, I modify it to fit that child. Or I "make it up" to them by doing history or science using a style they really like.

In any case, if creativity is what's stopping you, let me assure you that it really is a non-issue. The homeschooling market has a million and one ways to teach math facts, reading, history, science, health, whatever you struggle with. Another option is to team up with a creative mom and swap. She can teach one subject and you can teach another. This really isn't a problem.

3. You need to know everything in order to teach your kids.

I would probably have to be Exhibit A of someone who does not know everything. I remember reading about Lewis and Clark with Janna and thinking, "Did I ever learn this in high school?" I really did not remember, though I am sure I did. The fact is, we'd have to have perfect memories, and even then, as human beings there is no possible way we are going to know everything. But there is a way out of this dilemma. Wanna know what that is?

BE TEACHABLE.

That's it. The way our modern educational system functions, we have come to believe that unless you have a degree in a particular subject, you don't really know it. Baloney. Most of us have taught our kids to do many things: use the toilet, tie their shoes (if they still do that anymore), cross the street. Do you need a degree to teach your kids to do these things?

Okay, so maybe I'm being facetious. But I have quickly realized that the best way to teach my kids to have a love for learning is to model it myself. What better opportunity do I have to show my kids a good attitude towards school than by learning with them. In this way, I have learned so much with my kids. I have delved into history, electronics, geometry (again!), and art appreciation. And you know what? It has been so fun!

Well, this has gotten a little longer than I expected, so I'm going to stop here for now and continue with the other two myths the next time. Until then, I hope this helps you to re-think some of the misconceptions and/or fears that may concern you.