My 9-year-old daughter loves to write stories. Every day for months, without any prompting from me, she would pull out her computer and type away. The stories flowed freely, and she often chattered excitedly about her latest book.
But then one day, for no apparent reason, the typing stopped.
She joined in her younger brothers’ boisterous play more and more frequently. She chose listening to audiobooks or drawing, instead of writing. The computer collected dust under her bed.
And I worried.
I debated and fretted for weeks, wondering how to address the situation. Before, she wrote from a pure joy of writing. If I pushed her, would writing become a chore she dreaded? Would she put away her stories forever if I coerced her to write?
Finally, after a lot of thought, I decided not to turn creative writing into a chore or requirement (even if only by my pushing and prodding). Instead, I committed to making time in my schedule 2-3 days a week to serve as her scribe.
She knew how to type, yes, but I knew that typing was also a barrier. Her ideas flowed faster than her fingers could type. Perhaps, if I could remove that barrier, her desire to write would revive, and the stories would flow freely again.
The first day I offered to type for her, she eagerly took me up on it! “I’ll go grab my computer!” she said, quickly running upstairs and bounding back down again to settle on the couch next to me.
I was shocked at how easy it was. And wouldn’t you know, after 3-4 sessions of my serving as her typist/scribe, she started writing again all on her own, without waiting for me. All it took was offering a little support.
But how did I know that was the right decision?
Finding My Confidence as a Homeschool Parent
I could just as easily have decided to make creative writing a must-do, added it to our daily homeschool schedule, written in stone. I could have sucked the joy out of something that was once a joy-filled activity for her.
The homeschool mom I was two years ago would have done just that. Thankfully, I’ve learned in the past two years how to trust my homeschool mom instincts.
I used to be an extremely insecure homeschool mom. I was easily swayed by:
the latest and most popular homeschool philosophy
a random photo of a hands-on project on Instagram
my parents’ overt suggestions that I implement a stricter homeschool schedule
I changed directions so often it made me dizzy. I can’t imagine what my kids were feeling during those years!
So how did my insecure homeschool mom self learn how to trust her instincts and become the relatively confident homeschool mom she is today? Here are the three steps I took to get here.
1. Develop Confidence in Your Parenting First
Trusting our instincts as moms in this day and age is monumentally hard. Why? Because everyone has an opinion about everything, and the internet provides the means to easily share those opinions with the world.
I imagine that before the internet and social media, trusting your natural mom instincts was much easier. Now, those quiet instincts get drowned out by the voices of the “experts” and the herd.
And those voices and opinions? They are strong, and they are loud. There is always an equally loud opposing opinion, and all those opinions start hurtling at you from all sides before your child is even born!
to vaccinate or not to vaccinate
make allowances for the picky eater or don’t coddle the picky eater
early bedtime or late bedtime
ignore the tantrum or discipline the tantrum
pay for chores or don’t pay for chores
And the list goes on and on.
Deciding where you stand on all those controversial issues is tough. Standing your ground once you’ve made a choice is even harder.
However, the more you stand your ground on what you’ve decided works for you and for your family—no matter what anyone else says (even your best friend or your mother)—the more your confidence will grow.
I had to figure out who I was as a parent before I could figure out who I was as a homeschool parent.
Once I had a well-formed identity as a mom, I knew who I was as a homeschool parent pretty quickly. Bottom line: if you haven’t figured out how to stand confidently on your own two feet as a parent, you are going to struggle with confidence as a homeschooler, too.
Confident parenting is the foundation for confident homeschooling.
2. Know Yourself; Know Your Kids
Another problem with all of the strong stances on parenting and homeschool hot button topics is that they rarely take into account your unique family and your unique kids. Black and white rules cannot possibly account for how your unique personality as a parent mixes with your children’s unique personalities. They don’t know your circumstances or the choices you face.
Homeschool moms whose kids crave and need strict and consistent schedules are going to give completely different advice than the homeschool moms whose kids thrive under a flexible and gentle rhythm.
Homeschool moms with early readers might recommend early reading instruction when your child simply isn’t ready.
Those are just a couple of examples, but in short, those moms aren’t you. Their kids aren’t your kids. And what works for them and for their kids? It may or may not work for you.
You have to invest time in knowing yourself and knowing your kids in order to make good parenting and homeschooling decisions on their behalf.
And here’s the funny thing: you probably already do know your kids—well. You probably do know what they need. You just don’t trust yourself to make good decisions based on that knowledge.
So how do you start to trust yourself?
3. Stop Asking Everyone Else First
Homeschool Facebook groups are awesome. Local homeschool groups are awesome, too. But when you encounter a tricky homeschool problem, those groups make it ever so tempting to ask for solutions from others first.
Don’t get me wrong: I love homeschool groups! I love bouncing ideas off other homeschool moms. I share my own opinions and what’s working for our homeschool on my blog, for Pete’s sake. I offer recommendations to readers and friends. I’m not saying don’t ask questions or look for solutions.
What I am saying is this: make crowd-sourcing your second or third step, not your first.
When you are trying to learn how to trust your instincts as a homeschool mom, the last thing you need are ten voices telling you very different things. You need to listen to your instincts first.
Once you have a few of your own ideas and you’re still debating, then poll the groups, gather ideas, and crowd-source solutions.
But always evaluate the ideas against your own parenting and homeschooling values. Don’t drastically change course simply because several other parents offer up completely different ideas than the ones you originally came up with.
Learning to Trust Your Instincts Takes Time
Some women enter motherhood with a rare, rock-solid confidence. They know themselves, and they are seemingly unaffected by the strong opinions swirling around the parenting world. They do their parenting thing without pause or apology.
Most of us aren’t like that.
Homeschooling is still a minority choice in our world today. Most of us only know traditional school, which makes trusting our instincts even harder because we have little to no experience to go on. But isn’t that just as true of motherhood? Even if you have experience working with babies and children, we all start at the same place, from the day our children are born, we are all learning as we go.
Finding our stride in motherhood is a process. It takes time, making mistakes, and a lot of trial and error. Homeschooling is the exact same way. Your homeschool mom instincts are there. I promise. Give yourself time and experience to learn how to trust them.
About the Author
June loves deep discussions about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging at This Simple Balance, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with four kids ages eight and under doesn’t happen very often!