Growing Relationships
Through Parenting & Education
Painting Your Unique Homeschool Picture Title Typography
by Connie Albers
The Questions
The balance between following others, adjusting mid-stream, or going against the grain is something parents have grappled with for years.

Should I say yes, or no? Should I make the kids wake up at the same time every day or let them wake up when they are ready? Should I adjust the schedule or curriculum, or am I being wishy-washy? Should I be strict, or is it okay to go easy on my kids this time?

"Should I" Handwritten Lettering
I want my children to learn essential character qualities like perseverance, diligence, determination, and the like. If I decide to be lenient, am I teaching them to give up when something gets hard? If I make them sit in their seats until they finish an assignment, will they end up resenting homeschooling?
"If I..." Handwritten Lettering
The questions that run through our minds can be endless.

How do others handle the give-in, give-up, get-after-it conundrum? When is it okay to adjust the plans for a struggling child, and when should you push through?

The Pressure
If you have homeschooled for any length of time, you have likely experienced the pressure to do what other homeschoolers are doing. It might be to use a particular math curriculum or writing program or join the same co-op. The pressure to follow others is in just about every area. And there is no shortage of fellow homeschoolers who want to help you navigate the plethora of curriculum choices, engaging novels, and just about anything else you can imagine as you homeschool your children.

Yet, there is another side to all these “helpful” opinions and resources. Many of us enter each school year with trepidation, hesitation, and what I call, fear! Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of not doing enough.

As a veteran homeschooler of twenty-one years, I have seen and experienced all these emotions. For some years, the pressure to do what others were doing felt greater than others. Other years, I grudgingly followed, hoping it would help my reluctant writer and disinterested learner. I wanted someone to tell me the secret to successful homeschooling.

I wanted my kids to be brilliant homeschoolers like all those other homeschoolers that I heard about or saw online. I felt that if I deviated from what others were doing, my children would fall behind. The pressure to follow others or suffer the consequences was palpable, but doing what others were doing wasn’t working. It caused me a good deal of anxiety as I wondered and worried.

Have you been there? Are you there now? Do you feel like you are the only one who needs to go against the flow and do something different?

Sweet mama, you are not the only one. We all feel this way sometimes.
The Picture
I looked at other homeschool families, certain that they were doing it right. Their children seemed to be intelligent, eager learners who appeared to have it all together.

When I started homeschooling my firstborn, I painted a picture in my mind of how our days would run—a picture based mainly on what others did and what I remembered doing in school. I was excited to explore all the possibilities this new educational endeavor had to offer. Wanting my son to share my enthusiasm meant sharing the vision with him and the younger children regularly.

The first year was relatively smooth. We didn’t have any significant struggles with sitting still or getting our school work completed. I remember thinking, “This isn’t so hard,” partly because he enjoyed learning and partly because grasping new concepts came rather easily to him. So, we were off to a good start. I will admit the success of our first year was a confidence booster for this mom, who didn’t know what she was doing. But that quickly changed when we added my daughter to our homeschool adventures.

I created a new schedule and lesson plans for each child with the expectation that what worked the previous year would work like before, but that wasn’t exactly what happened. I quickly learned that what worked for my son would not work for my daughter the same way. This created a good deal of tension and frustration.

At first, my approach was to double down on the schedule and push through the lessons that I had created. After all, the scope and sequence were what other children were doing. I was quite concerned about my children staying on pace so they wouldn’t get behind. But the more I doubled down and tried to push through, the worse things got. We weren’t having fun as I had envisioned. And no one, not even me, wanted to start school in the morning.

I must confess, by the end of the second year, I was ready to give up. This is not how homeschooling was supposed to be. After careful consideration and lots of prayers, I admitted that something had to change, and it had to come from me. My expectations needed some adjusting.

The picture I had painted a couple of years back was becoming somewhat blurry. My son became increasingly irritated at his sister because she slowed him down. My daughter started to resent her brother for not enjoying the learning process the way she did.

I wondered if the picture I originally painted was too idealistic. Or was it accurate, and I needed to remain steady? Finally, I concluded that it was both. It was idealistic and accurate. My challenge was to understand how to paint a more reflective picture of where my children were and what the Albers’ homeschool journey could look like. This was not as clear-cut as I had hoped it would be. But what I knew to be true was that I created the picture; therefore, I was allowed to recreate it. I had to give my permission to pivot. So I set out to explore new ideas of what our homeschool days and journey could look like.

Color Swatches
How to Change the Picture
Changing the picture requires prayer and careful consideration. You need to do an honest assessment, know what is right for your family, and know when to implement the necessary changes.

I remember sitting on the couch reading a history book together. All was going well until my daughter caught a glimpse of a bird flying across the yard. She immediately stopped listening and started daydreaming. She wondered whether it was a mother or daddy bird. She questioned if there were baby birds nearby, safely resting in a nest by the window. On the other hand, my son wasn’t interested in what was going on with the birds. He wanted to finish the lesson to complete his other assignments and go outside to play with his friends.

Her desire to experience life and daydream about the world around her and my son’s desire to get things done quickly started to cause arguments and resentments to form between them, making me rethink what we were doing. They didn’t appreciate their differences, and I didn’t know how to deal with this situation. When I addressed the conflict, they made valid points. That’s when I realized the idea of us gathering together to read was okay, but not every subject needed to be done together. My son didn’t have to sit and listen, because he was capable of working independently.

Something else happened in that moment, which changed the rest of our homeschool journey. I realized I could help my children understand and embrace the differences in others. They needed to learn how to see through the lens of their sibling.

Looking back, I see how my willingness to pivot when needed, change curriculum when it wasn’t working, and stop feeling pressured into doing what other homeschool parents were doing brought us freedom and joy. I’ve also seen how my children learned to respect how others process the world around them.

We’ve encountered numerous real-life examples that I could share with you of how I felt the pressure to follow others, when I had to switch gears, and when I had to go against the grain so we could achieve our homeschool goals and finish well.

The key to success in homeschooling isn’t the schedule, test scores, curriculum, and length of years; it’s what your grown-up children say about their homeschool journey when talking to a friend. How do they describe the years together? Be willing to pivot away from what isn’t working so you can embrace something new. There is freedom in the pivot.

"And know that it's okay to be different." Handwritten Lettering
Connie Albers Author

onnie Albers is a mother of five and veteran homeschool mom who has used her public relations background to help shape the homeschooling movement for twenty-seven years. She has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom and mompreneur with an outreach and ministry to parents through her speaking, writing, and various leadership roles. More recently Connie’s newest book, Parenting Beyond the Rules by NavPress, outlines positive approaches to parenting today’s teenagers. Her enthusiasm for helping others navigate social media led to her taking a post at Social Media Marketing World. Connie’s mission is to equip moms to live their lives with confidence and joy.

Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married thirty-four years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida, from the beginning.