Feeling full of doubts?
You've dedicated days, weeks, months, and year after year to your kid's education. You've left your career behind or never started one. You continue to scrape your savings — for a new clarinet, karate classes, or Spanish 103 at the community college.
But then you hear that the local, private high school takes their seniors on service trips to Costa Rica to build houses. And teaches perfectly planned themed blocks for every topic of every subject. And, gosh, those teens are so happy laughing in a circle on the corner at lunchtime.
Do you feel your cozy homeschool can never measure up or compete? We've all been there. But, it's not true.
The truth is... the forces that determine your family's homeschool success lie within you.
What does it mean?
Each family defines success differently. So, it’s unique to you and each of your children.
When I hear the word success, I initially think of scholarships, brand-name college bumper stickers for boasting, and a first high-wage job after graduation that pays the bills.
Yes, we want those accomplishments. They tick off our 'parental anxiety' boxes. We'd love our children to leave home and find meaningful work to afford the lifestyle they desire.
But that's not all we want.
Most homeschooling families have a deeper meaning of homeschool success that's just as — or more — important. Or at least we discover it over many moments of growing our little human beings.
So what is homeschool success to me?
It’s when my young adults call every weekend with weekly updates.
When I hear the excitement in their voice as they describe a new exercise routine, fancy cooked meal, or concert attended. When I hear the thrill of their life choices or the problem-solving steps they take when the enjoyment is gone. And when they FaceTime birthday wishes to a younger sibling.
To me, ultimate homeschool success is having healthy family relationships and young adults with a strong sense of well-being — body, mind, and spirit.
I’m sure you’ve noticed — homeschooling is still a rare educational option.
Sure, many families start strong in kindergarten with every book and art supply, but by the high school years, many don’t make the serious commitment to homeschool.
Having a clear vision of your ‘why’ keeps you motivated and connected to your decision.
You must return to your ‘why’ over and over in your journey for the strength to continue. Because it’ll get hard. And you’ll want to rush over to the local high school and register (read: beg them to take) your teen immediately some days.
Your ‘why’ brings you back to what’s important — the real, deep down reasons you feel called to this lifestyle and the success of your children.
Do you homeschool to give your teen a customized education where her passions take lead?
Do you homeschool your teen to celebrate his strengths rather than make him feel inferior with his “weaknesses?” Or for keeping family relationships strong and flourishing? Or for more time for world travel and the modeling of real-life skills?
Once you find your vision, use it to stay focused and inspired on your own roadmap to success.
You might not believe it’s possible to homeschool the high school years.
A mom can’t be the teacher of seven subjects to four kids and manage grocery shopping, three meals a day, and loads of laundry. And where’s the time for mama self-care? We need our bubble baths and yoga to stay sane!
But many families do believe. According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau, over 1.5 million children 5-17 years old homeschool and the number is rising.
They do it. And you can too.
Once you decide you can, it becomes not only possible — but doable and advisable.
And what if you can’t believe? Fake it. Marie Forleo suggests asking this question every morning:
“How would you behave if you knew you were the best in the world at what you do?”
You wouldn’t sit around worrying if you were any good at home educating. You would get right to organizing the materials for today’s science lab or grabbing the next novel on the list from the bookshelf.
When you lose hope, lean on your support groups — online or in-person.
Ask family members to step up in their roles. Can your kids wash their own laundry? Can your husband cook dinner for the family three times a week?
Outsource subjects and housework when you can. Does your son’s concentration improve with a math tutor? Can you hire a cleaning service to shine your floors and scrape food bits from your oven twice a month?
Then put your high heels on, and get back to being the best person in the universe to teach your kids.
So you have your vision. Your perfect plan of how homeschooling will play out — each day, each year.
But sh!t will go down in life.
Jobs will be lost; family members will get sick; dogs will die; houses will go into foreclosure; teens will be uncooperative.
Those events are awful. And yet beautiful moments can also derail your schedule: babies will be born. (ahh, much better scenario.)
This is where pivoting and staying flexible to circumstances becomes necessary. It doesn’t mean every expectation gets tossed out (although it might!). Instead, these life lessons become the “curriculum” for a time. And you roll with what comes your way.
You don’t crumble…but shift. You show your teen what real-life resilience is when you have the blueprint, but update and adapt it to change with the landscape.
When I was a small girl in school, I may have answered that learning ends at 3:00 pm each weekday. Even though I spent all evening drawing and reading.
What I love about homeschooling is that I can find my kids solving math problems or creating art at 10 am on a Tuesday morning just as much as 8 pm on a Saturday night.
School gives us the idea that true education is only what happens inside those brick walls from 9:00 am-3:00 pm. That learning is not something you can give yourself and only the trained teacher holds the key.
Can you imagine if we stopped gaining new skills or knowledge at the end of high school or college? It’s ridiculous and impossible because whether or not you try, you continue learning. Isn’t it a relieving idea?
If your teens see you reading Jane Austen, cooking Indian recipes, pounding away your piano scales, and writing a blog post, they see that simply as… life. Your teen will remain curious and take initiative because it is what she lived.
It takes the pressure off. You aren’t responsible for teaching your young adult every topic in every subject.
There’s a lifetime ahead to explore the beauty all around.
It all counts.
It is all worthy.
Is a top college part of your homeschool success vision? Then you might wonder if your daughter’s fascination with breeding, raising, and selling guinea pigs matters to colleges.
But if it matters to your daughter and brings her joy, then yes.
Colleges love to see teens who do what lights them up. So document it. And feel confident because now you can view that dreadful mess of guinea pig disaster as passionate learning.
You may question your decision to homeschool high school. You may feel unqualified. But you don't need to be perfect. You just need to show up and keep moving forward.
Go on now. Your teen is waiting.