Thursday 8 November 2012

Home education and anxiety

I'm a worrier and always have been. Of course, starting to home educate didn't end this-not at all. Home educators are prone to plenty of worries especially if they are rather anxious perfectionists!

Anyway, here are a few of the favourite worries and some thoughts about them.

I'm not teaching the way that schools teach. 

This is almost certainly true. Most home educators have small numbers of mixed age children.
 Does it matter? It may and it may not but it is easy to feel intimidated by really silly things. Soon after we started, a kind teacher friend gave me some books which included complex sample lesson plans including plenary sessions. I gave some thought to plenary sessions with a nine year old, two year old and a baby and gave up plenary sessions. I also had a wobbly moment after watching the young glitzy teachers in the government phonics DVD-does it really matter to my children's education that I'm going grey?

Textbooks are bad

 This worry seems to come from two sources: primary school teachers and unschoolers. I'm not necessarily saying that textbooks are good but they can be a helpful way to guide a busy mother through a subject. Yes, they probably aren't necessary and we don't use them rigidly. I've tried doing without-making lists of topics to cover and working with these but why re-invent the wheel? For me, often having a text as a backbone and going for "added value" items works best.

My child might be falling behind.

 It often seems that every  home educated child, and most children in school, can read by age four. This is more than a bit worrying. Does it matter? Well sort of-having children who can read is one of the primary aims of our education. We want to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and that includes being able to read His Word. But not being able to read by four, or even five or six, doesn't mean a child will be illiterate just that there will be hours spent over synthetic phonics making slow, steady progress and a humbled mother-no bad thing.

I'm no good at ... so I can't teach it to my children.

This has actually worried me less than I ever thought it would. As someone who has science/maths A levels, I always thought that teaching these subjects would be easy but teaching languages and art would be well nigh impossible. In many ways, this has been true but it hasn't meant that my children haven't done modern languages or art. I remember at the start of our journey, spending time praying about these subjects and there has been amazing provision.

Art has probably been the biggest surprise. There have been art lessons from an art student and in a local centre. People have pointed out to me guides to learning about art and artists. Strangely, I've enjoyed art, and learnt far more, with my children than I ever did in school.

 In some ways, explaining concepts from subjects that I find easy has been far more challenging.

What if they fail academically?

 We don't home educate for academics but they certainly are important to me, very important, probably far too important. We are charged to Provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Yes, we need to give them as good an academic grounding as we can but more than that to teach them of the Lord. It is easy to lose the wood for the trees.

Ultimately, I, and any other worrying home educators need to remember

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4 v 6-7


  1. I so agree with you about the challenge of explaining concepts you find easy. It's made me realise I am not a natural teacher. However, the children seem to be learning in spite of my failings! I have always believed that the children will learn what they need to fulfil God's plan for their life not some arbitrary goals put forward by the government. Anything I miss, God'll fill in!

  2. Angelicscalliwags-you are so right. It is easy to look to man made goals and not look to the Lord.

  3. I am a retired homeschool Mom of 23 years in the USA. I pop in here every so often and from what I have seen you are doing a stellar job and you do not need to worry! Keep up the good work!

  4. Lana, thank you for the encouragement. It is appreciated.