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.

Getting rid of the pressure on homeschoolers to be overachievers.

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.

My kids to awesome stuff, but they are in no way prodigies

My kids do awesome stuff, but they are in no way prodigies

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.

If you never want to use the word "happy" then you might be a joy sucker

If you never want to use the word “happy” then you might be a joy sucker

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.

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9 Responses to Why does every homeschooler have to be an entrepreneur? Or a prodigy, hackschooler, or overachiever?

  1. Amanda says:

    Oh thank you so much for that post Aadel! You hit the nail square on the head. I know that those ideas can start to creep in so easily (and so overtly) at times. It’s just like in other areas of life, it’s unwise to compare ours to others…I personlly don’t “keep up with the Jones” in the materialist status, so I shouldn’t do that in the homeschooling realm either. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog:)

  2. Paola Collazo says:

    Having trouble reposting this on google. i pinned it, no problem. But there is no link for google+. I really wanted to share this. We need to hear reminders. Thanks!

  3. Tara says:

    Aadel, this was one of the best rambles then I have read. Thank you. I can feel that current trend too. Tara.

  4. MaryLee Heller says:

    I agree with the heart of your message: Let your experience be your experience and don’t measure yourself against others.

    That is precisely *why* I chose to use the term hackschooling–it makes sense for my thought process and approach. It took away the pressure to school at home. Sometimes I use Home Education, too. In the end, my planner this year called it Hackucation. Why? Because I believe in a hacker lifestyle: Picking what works for you; Having resources rather than curriculum; building your life around your needs, your desires, your goals, your values, your passions.

    All that to say:
    Please be careful to not put off people who are still trying to find their style by possibly being misperceived as attacking their terminology. In the end, we all just want to help our children be the best “THEM” that they can be. We all want to encourage, not push. Pace, not slow.

    Be it fear of failure or fear of success, there is danger in fear. Don’t fear! Embrace the time with you child(ren) and be glad we have a choice. Celebrate learning and growth in whatever form is best for each child.

    • MaryLee – thank you for your thoughts. I love the term hackschooling. I was using it as an example, just like the entrepreneur programs that are starting to pop up, to point out that not everyone has to jump on that term. If hackschooling works for your kids, and you identify with the term, then by all means use it!

      I was attempting to dispel some of the competition and fear that homeschool families have over what “label” they have to fit in, or what their kids need to accomplish, or what they need to prove to the rest of society.

  5. Christine says:

    THANK YOU, what you wrote really resonated with me. I said YES out loud when I got to you saying that you celebrate ANY kid who does cool stuff, no matter what their educational background – because they found their sweet spot and have been released into *their* giftings. The world is HUGE and amazing and God’s resources are unimaginably immense. He does not treat His children with a one size fits all approach in the giftings, talents and calls that He designates. I think all the great stories about different types of educational success can be very inspiring if we use them as cause for celebration and inspiration…but not rules about how schooling of any sort should look. As you said, many of us defected from the “system” to be freed from that narrative. God can spark in us a heart response to the stories of kids (and Moms!!) finding their groove and their path that resonate with what He has for us. This happens in part when we release the fear as you said. And when we submit our “plans” and ideas and own desires for our kids to the master potter. Have a great weekend.

  6. Louise says:

    I don’t know HOW your post ended up on my screen today- but it is exactly what I have been stressing about the past few months- coincidence? I think not!
    Thank you! I know I worry unnecessarily about everything, it is good to be reminded what I actually believe….

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