Almost daily I run across articles about the pressure and anxiety that children are experiencing in schools beginning as early as kindergarten, really picking up at about fourth grade and increasing throughout high school. As a home educator, it would be easy for me to simply say that homeschooling is the answer to all that. Oh, but I would be wrong if I really thought that.
If you want to know the truth, there are a great number of homeschoolers who mimic exactly what we see happening in the culture. It’s a cultural problem, and not a school-problem really, so don’t think you are immune to this just because you homeschool.
How do homeschoolers fall into the same trap they think they left behind? Look at your schedule. Is there any white space left in your day or week? Or is it filled with various classes, clubs, music lessons, sports, art and church activities? In this fast-paced culture, with so many great opportunities for our kids, it is so tempting to sign them up for everything. I’ve heard it said from a fellow homeschooler, “I thought I’d be homeschooling, but it should be called car-schooling.”
We think it will give our kids a well-rounded education, help them find out what they are good at or interested in, and even look appealing on transcripts. In fact, this creates stressed out kids, makes them too tired and unfocused to enjoy or be very good at anything, and creates emotional problems. Once they get to college, it is no wonder that they have a hard time selecting a major and choosing their path in life. Those with ‘helicopter moms’ needn’t worry as their moms have probably already figured that out for them. Sigh.
Another reason we fall into the achievement culture trap is that we fear things. Human beings have a tendency to fear and while homeschoolers are super, they are not immune to this trapping. Fear of what people think, fear of failure, fear of the future, fear of being proven wrong or stupid…all of these fears and more can be an underlying motive while we plan our curriculum, activities and schedules.
If you have gotten trapped by the culture of achievement or perfectionism and want to reclaim a simpler lifestyle, start with these ideas:
- Make a list of all of your family members’ outside activities and commitments
- Ask yourself how you got here and why you do what you do. (If your children are tired, sick a lot, emotional, or having learning difficulties, you definitely want to analyze your situation and see what you can cut out.)
- Take the pressure off the child. Don’t feel like you have to wait until the end of the school year to make changes, even if you have already paid for the class and there are no refunds. Believe me, your child’s physical and emotional health, as well as your family’s relationships, are more than worth whatever money you’d be losing.
- Gain even more insight and clarity by taking the online learning success profile which will give you a really focused blueprint of your whole child, helping you eliminate a lot of unnecessary options! That link will give you $5 off your profiles. When you’re finished email me the results at krista [at] kristaenglish.com
- Limit your student’s outside activities to 2 if possible, for instance a sport and a club.
Soon, you’ll be spending more time as a family, living and loving a lifestyle of learning, and allowing time for relationships with other families. When was the last time you had a family over for dinner and a game night, or were those relics of the good ol’ days? I enjoy hearing from you if you want to share in the comments below!