Homeschooling and unschooling are hard. Us homeschool moms put up with a lot of fears and pressure from both outside sources and inside the camp.
We want to show that we are not ruining our kids. That they can and will be just as capable of working with others, supporting themselves, overcoming adversities and challenges, and making the most of opportunities that come their way.
The way to do that is not by clinging onto this idea that our kids need to prove something to the world.
I admit that I also love the stories about homeschool kids who are starting their own businesses, making advancements in quantum physics, and generally just showing the world that they can be awesome.
But I also have to admit that I like any story about a kid doing awesome things – despite their educational background.
The sad thing that has started to happen, and I’ve seen it coming for a while in the online community, is that we now buy into the idea that every homeschool kid should be doing amazing things like that. Or that every kid educated at home should be better prepared, smarter, and generally more business and academic savvy than their peers.
There are entire programs built to teach you how to create entrepreneurs, how to “hack” their education so they get anything they want, and other such nonsense.
Unfortunately, there is money to be made in playing into the fears and pressure of homeschooling parents.
As with all things we “buy” into, we need to use discernment in this area. I will be writing a particularly heady post about using discernment at homeschool conventions here pretty soon (it’s been brewing in my brain for a while). But we need to remember that the end goal of homeschooling is not creating a prodigy. Or deciding a child’s fate to be starting a business, going to college, or even NOT pursuing higher education without taking into consideration the child’s path, identity, desires, and strengths.
This phenomenon is particularly upsetting in the unschooling circles that I am a part of. Idzie from I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write has noticed it also:
People have taken a philosophy about learning more freely, a philosophy that should be exciting and comforting at the same time (following what interests you, combined with the comfort of choosing how much or little you feel able to do, free from the stress of a heavy college course load), and turned it into just the newest way to claw your way up the corporate ladder, become a wealthy entrepreneur, or otherwise become “successful” by the most capitalistic measures out there.
There is no formula or “right” way to ensure success in homeschooling
We tend to freak out when it comes to our kids and the future. And rightly so – it is scary to be responsible for the education and upbringing of another human being.
Don’t let that fear rule you. It gets especially dangerous in the older grades when the idea of college and a job come into play.
If you think that there is some strategy, curriculum, or philosophy that will guarantee your kids “turn out right”, have success in their endeavors, or make it into the best colleges – I’m going to burst your bubble.
Every family dynamic is different. Evey situation is different. Every kid is different.
It wouldn’t make sense for us, a military family that moves an average of every 2 years, to have our kid start a local business. Unless it was online or something that could be done anywhere including overseas.
It’s upsetting and dangerous, I think, to tell every homeschooled kid that they can get into college, or travel freely, or find an amazing job by “hacking” their way when they might face a very different reality.
It’s even more dangerous to expect and push your kids towards those ends when that might not be what they desire or envision at all.
Which brings me to my next point.
What if it is ok to not be a homeschooling success?
The word success really bugs me. Not because of what it means, but because of how people use it.
What does it mean to be successful? How do we know if our homeschooling and unschooling journey (which is really the journey of our kids, NOT ours) is a success?
Success is very subjective.
If my kids never make the evening news, get college degrees, start their own business, or saving puppies from a burning building – I will be ok with that. For us, homeschooling isn’t about being harder, better, faster, stronger (thanks Daft Punk). We opted out of the system that was focused on that. We chose a different path.
If my kids want to go that route – “hacking” their education and changing the world through their ideas and skills I am going to support them all the way. And one of my kids very much desires that. But in the end I just want my kids to be happy and healthy – and suited for what God calls them to do.
And if you give me flack over wanting happiness for my kids, then call it joy. Call it anything you want. I want my kids to enjoy life. I don’t believe that God denies us that.
And is it any different to want happiness, as fleeting as it might be, as it is to want success? We all know that success is fleeting. A good degree, business, or job can be worthless in an instant.
But the enjoyment of life cannot be taken away. The ability to rise up and try again, to be content where you are, to look to the interests of others and not only yourself – those things are the measures of true success.
I’ve rambled here a bit but I hope that you get the gist. My kids don’t have to prove anything to the world or to me. Don’t let some book or speaker have you believing every homeschool kid can be an entrepreneur, prodigy, or overachiever.
Don’t suck the joy and diversity out of life.
Celebrate your child’s differences! Allow them to figure out a path that suits them.