View Full Version : Homeschooling insecurities

12-13-2011, 07:51 PM
You know how sometimes you wonder if you've really messed up? You've bought the wrong curriculum, or pushed too hard, or missed something important? And then usually it works out?

Like with Raven, even tho I was pretty confident that I didnt want to PUSH reading, that I wanted to encourage it at a pace which was comfortable for him (keeping in mind that this is a kid who, for years, would say NO any time you asked him if he wanted lunch). But i worried because he was so 'behind'. But his reading is still improving and its HIS . . .he OWNS it. Its not something I forced on him, he uses his reading for his own purposes now, and it makes me very happy!

A few weeks ago, I got Zinn's People's History out of the library. I asked ORion to read a few pages to me (we were in the car) and he continued to read past that, saying he liked it. So I bought it. Today he was supposed to read the first chapter and take notes (I gave him an explanation of what i expect - an essay for each chapter). Well, he was complaining and complaining. He said he hated history, he said his eyes hurt, and then he started crying because it was too awful to read so many different accounts of the abuse and destruction of the native people. I started to really wonder if this was a mistake. But then he got to the end of the chapter, where Zinn explores how the way the story is told actually gives a message about what we value . . . Orion said "Oh, that was interesting!" And I agreed - and I think we'll get through this book and it will be ok!

Raven, as i'm mentioned a few times, is advanced in math. Last week we started a booked of comic book math, and he really loved the first section, which was about multiplication, and did it all himself. Well, today's section was about division, and the second half of the problems required long division. I've tried to show him long division a few times, and he has refused to do any problems himself. Today we walked through the algorithm with me telling him what to do each step of the way. I wonder if I should print off some long division worksheets? If I should skip the rest of this book? If i shoudl make a totally new plan for math? But we are also working through Khan Academy, and I know we'll get there eventually. I'm also wondering if he'll like LOF - but i know you are supposed to know long division before you start fractions and decimals and percents. So . . . idk, we'll see about that one.

Anyone else have things they worry about like that? Any recent homeschooling insecurities?

12-13-2011, 08:01 PM
These stories are uplifting :)

Whenever I buy some book or materials for homeschool, I seem to go through the same process. I feel inspired by reading about it, buy it, then receive it and feel let down as I look it over, like I made a mistake. Then we use it and it's usually actually fine or even great. I will try to think of more specific examples though.

Lately I'm insecure that school keeps getting pushed off for all the other hundred things we have to do in the day, we're rushing too much, and despite all the rushing to outings or activities, dd doesn't have any real friends. I need to tone down the quantity and amp up the quality social time somehow. I hope this will all work out.

Stella M
12-13-2011, 08:13 PM
Oh yeah.

I worry that I totally screwed up homeschooling my dd12. Because, you know, she quit.

I worry that ds will never read a novel voluntarily in his life.
I worry that his brain has been rewired by the computer.
I worry that I won't be able to teach him computer science.
I worry that his handwriting is atrocious.
I worry that we don't ever do the reflection pages in our Intellego unit studies.
I worry because he won't take outside classes.
I worry that he won't teach himself to swim like the girls did but then I worry about forcing him to do classes.

What else ?

I worry that dd14 will be ready to go to uni at 16 but she will have no friends. Ever.
I worry that I might not have the fortitude to keep going with maths for another 5 years.
I worry that I should have done a spelling program with her at some point.
I worry that she doesn't speak a second language.

I worry that dd12 doesn't know about stuff like the Berlin Wall.
I worry that dd14 will leave home having missed out on reading an essential and important book of fiction.
I worry that I never read as much poetry aloud as I should.
I worry that we haven't done composer studies for about 2 years.
I worry that we have no access to a science lab.
I worry that I haven't done carpentry with any of my kids.
I worry that they haven't been camping.

I worry that I don't know where all the countries in Africa are, except for Egypt and South Africa and really, I'd have to say we managed to skip Geography.

I really worry that we never got around to doing a History timeline.

12-13-2011, 08:24 PM
Thank you guys for sharing.

I definitely have my moments. Dd, yesterday, freaked over her phonics sheet. So I gave her a different one that was on the same basic thing, but far fewer places to complete. She freaked again.

And I thought.. all this work on phonics (we are over a year into it at this point), and dd is still completely confused. Learning to read has been a long series of baby steps. Occasionally, a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, but mostly... just dd and I, a candle, and pitch blackness. We inch forward a tiny centimeter at a time, but it feels so slow some days it is like standing still. My father made some comment a week ago about how different she was from my sister and I at the same age (I was taught to read at 3 by my then-4yo sister... who was learning phonics in ps and passing them on to me), and it wasn't a positive comparison if ykwim. It isn't dd's fault.. our ps system is churning kids into the remedial reading programs at an astronomical rate (something like 50% of the kids I know are in it). I've had to train her how to read- basics that ps should have taught kids... basics dd didn't pick up on because she was too busy trying frantically to memorize laundry lists of words.

Today she did the harder worksheet with zero complaints. She easily read words like 'say' and 'would' (I don't recall teaching her 'would' at all). She sped through her long u/ure lesson. She read a book to me, including every single tiny word scattered in the pictures. We have a long way to go yet, but days like today let me know that we will someday get there. (one more review lesson, and then we start endings... YAY!)

LOL when we first started this journey, I was so horrified at the state of reading in my dd, the kids I know personally, and the country as a whole that I thought some day I would be a remedial reading instructor. Now.... egad. If I get through just teaching my own dd to read, and to enjoy it, I'll be happy forever.

I have worship-ful admiration for you guys who have gone before me in this journey.

12-13-2011, 08:33 PM
- but i know you are supposed to know long division before you start fractions and decimals and percents. So . . . idk, we'll see about that one.

huh? my dd has no clue about division, long or otherwise, and we're doing fractions...We use Math Mammoth and haven't hit division yet, although they say to start fractions anytime gr2-4. She isn't having any trouble with it. well, aside from stubborness-related-trouble.

I have insecurities galore. Not all related to HSing right now *sigh* Feeling like I'm doing everything wrong lately.

12-13-2011, 08:36 PM
huh? my dd has no clue about division, long or otherwise, and we're doing fractions...We use Math Mammoth and haven't hit division yet, although they say to start fractions anytime gr2-4. She isn't having any trouble with it. well, aside from stubborness-related-trouble.
No, we've done fractions and percents and decimals already, but the Life of Fred series author says you are supposed to have mastered long division before starting his books on fraction, decimals and percents. i guess i assume they are more rigorous than what we've done so far, bigger numbers, etc

12-13-2011, 09:43 PM
oh I kinda get it Cara. I thought I missed some weird rule about not doing fractions yet. LOL...how about those insecurities??!! worry worry...

Weedy...my dd8 was 7 before she started reading. It was SUCH a struggle. She'd have to sound out simple 3 letter words repeatedly and they wouldn't stick in her heaad from one line to the next. It was painful. It was somewhat discouraging as we saw other early readers around us, I was a reader by 5yrs, etc. BUT I kept reminding myself that some schools of thought (like Waldorf) don't ever TOUCH reading or pre-reading until the kids are 7. They believe the brain (in most kids) just is NOT ready to handle it yet. So I totally relaxed and mostly just gave up and kept telling my dh "she'll get it when she gets it". lo and behold 6 months later she jumped many reading levels and was devouring chapter books, and will now read anything you throw at her. it's amazing how fast it clicked once she was finally READY. It will happen. I know you know this, but obviously I feel like I have to share, LOL. Blame the eggnog. I had a rough bedtime and followed it by making my nog a little strong...so now I ramble...

12-13-2011, 09:44 PM
I worry, too, all the time. I worry what will happen if DS stays home and what happens if DD stays in private school and if those are the paths they're supposed to walk. I worry what I'm missing in writing since I don't use a curriculum. I worry about whether I've chosen the right math, science, etc. curriculum for DS and whether he'll be behind and if he's really retaining anything, and of course these worries are magnified every time I look at something we're not using and see how it's covering something we haven't. I worry about how he would handle PS if something ever happened to me and he had to go back into the system.

But then... then M1 does something awesome like pull a random scientific factoid out of his hat at just the right time, or he writes a really awesome poem, or... whatever. Anyway, it helps.

12-13-2011, 10:51 PM
All my concerns right now are about my daughter. This is our last week before Christmas break. In January, when we get back from break, we are handing over the reins. She has the info on all the courses I require for graduation that still need to be done. We've discussed the materials she wants to use, the courses she intends to do over the next year, exactly what will be required of her, etc. We've promised to go the whole year, January - December, with her in charge of her schooling. Her psychiatrist agrees with it, voiced my reasons before I said them, and supports us in this trial. However, I still worry. I worry she'll slack for most or all of the year. I worry that she'll get nothing done. I worry that it will be more difficult to get her back to work when the year is over. I worry that not getting everything she plans done will cause her to shut down, making it 100 times harder to get back on track. I worry that, if she doesn't get everything done, she'll burn herself out trying to complete her final 2 1/2 years of school in 1 1/2 years, so she can still graduate at 16.

Of course a large part of my worry about next year comes from the fact that she has really slacked off last week & this week. I'm trying to remind myself that it's right before Christmas & it's probably just the holidays that are throwing her off. I'm trying to tell myself that the timing of her slacking (the week directly after we finalized all the plans for next year) is coincidental. I'm still worried, though.

I'm also worried that, when she does go to college, her writing won't be up to snuff. It's always been her toughest area, and we've worked so hard. I've seen a lot of improvement, and she's currently getting an 87% in her online Writing course. I still worry that it won't be enough, though.

My only other worries are about how we'll continue to afford this. With all the interests & the things they want to learn, it gets to be a lot. Of course, not all of it takes money or curriculum, but between the two of them, they want to learn 4 more languages (in addition to the ones they're already doing), and I will need a program to teach them Chinese, Gaelic, German, and French (my French isn't that great and I don't know the others at all).

12-13-2011, 11:26 PM
My eldest loves Zinn. And has asked to read more about Women's Suffrage as a result of that book. But getting her to do handwriting of any kind is worse than pulling teeth. Teaching Textbooks is working out beautifully. She is right on schedule, maybe even ahead a little rather than way behind. Glad we found that program. It is worth every penny.

We are also working on geography.

My youngest is doing fine with reading and basic counting and addition of small numbers. She is only 5. But we haven't really tried anything too strenuous yet mentally speaking.

The biggest thing is her telling fart and butt jokes wherever we go. I hope that's the worst problem we have like--ever. But only time will tell.

for the longest time my eldest couldn't watch any sort of educational flick about space, because the animations showing asteroids would freak her out [real bad] I found out later that it was because when she was younger she was watching something on Discovery, and some show was talking about how the sun would eventually expand and gobble up the earth in a fiery belch. Only she didn't understand being 4 or 5 at the time, that this would happen over the course of billions of years. So after that every time she saw space shows--sweat, shakes, maybe even a bit of throwing up was in order, and then much crying.

I had most of my freak outs when she was between the ages of 6 and 7, when we were first getting started. I was very time oriented rather than goal oriented. I am glad that I don't pay attention to time so much now. If I am relaxed, then they are too.

12-13-2011, 11:54 PM
We talked tonight about our main insecurities. #1 is DS-6 not reading yet. We have been working with him for a good year or more, and he knows his letters, is sounding out some words, and writes well, but I think we're playing into comparing him to other kids (my niece could read news articles at 5). He doesn't seem to have the same signs as DD-9 who has dyslexia; mostly, I think he just doesn't have an interest in it. They are both bright and creative and do very well with math and science. So we try not to worry.

Honestly, that's it. We are all very happy with the experience. DD is back to her cheerful self with plenty of time to create. This morning, I found her in the kitchen early, brewing perfume and decorating cupcakes. She later sewed a nichtgown for her doll all on her own. I can't tell you how nice it is to see her blossom, using the freedom she has now to explore her interests and not worry about test scores, social cliques, and keeping up with homework.

12-14-2011, 03:14 AM
I think everyone hates long division! It's one of those things that's important to learn how to do, for those times when you don't have access to, or aren't allowed, a calculator, but by the time Algebra rolls around, most teachers are okay with calculator use for those long divisions, multiplications, etc.

Maybe if he knows that he doesn't have to do it out by hand forever, it won't seem quite so bad.

I'm constantly worried that I'm doing everything wrong, that my son will never be able to fit into a "regular" classroom environment (say, for college, or even high school if we have to send him to p.s. for some reason. *shudder*), that I'm totally screwing up his future...etc., etc. It's totally normal to feel this way...right? :)

12-14-2011, 08:48 AM
I found this article from a long-term homeschooler rather reassuring. One quote from it: ..."As I come close to the time when I have no children at home, I often find myself wondering why we gave our educational worries much consideration."


12-14-2011, 09:11 AM
Now that you mention it...
I think I haven't had hs anxiety in a good few weeks now, and that's a record in our 8 months going. I was getting insecurity attacks every few days before.
Here's what changed, and it mostly came from all of you here at SHS (because everybody's kids sound so awesome, and so creative, and the world is in great need for creative people)...

In the recent threads of the "typical days" and "what are you using" threads...

I'm noticing that a lot of people are starting early with computer programming.
My son will be good at this, and my dh can teach him lots about cp and web design. I know graphic design, so I can teach him that.
With the way our world is headed, I'm sure that these skills will be in very high demand.
We can teach him everything we know in a couple of years when he's older, and it won't be hard because he likes it.
With us, just in daily life, he is also learning to grow food and to be safe in an extreme environment.
So that's SURVIVAL covered.

Now that I see that, I can relax.

The rest (math, science, language arts), we'll do the best we can, but he doesn't need to be great at all of those to have quality of life, which is my main goal.
I can only try to give each subject a fair chance to spark my son's interest and help him discover how the world works (because that's important).
At the beginning I was very demanding with his writing because I've written so many grants in my life and find the skill to be very helpful, especially if you want to start your own project.
But that's me. He has other talents, and if he doesn't learn to write well and wants to start a project, he can hire a grant writer with the money he makes from web design.
So no more worrying for me! (that's an affirmation more than a definite reality, but I'm getting there)

12-14-2011, 09:24 AM
I worry that I'm not structured, strict, organized enough.
I worry that the above means they watch too much television, play too much Wii, play too much computer.
I worry that ds's quirkiness seems to make it hard for him to make friends but he's happy to play with whatever kids are around.
I worry that our house is too small so we can't invite people over for playdates so it's even harder for him to make friends.
I worry that my disorganization is limiting what we do in Science and History/Geography.
I worry that dd doesn't seem interested in reading or ready for blending.
I worry that ds doesn't do enough independent reading.
I worry that I'm an introvert and would love to never leave the house.
I worry that we don't have the kids in enough outside activities since they are very social.
I worry about the things we won't be able to do because of lack of space.

Then I try to remind myself that they are still VERY young and worrying about this stuff is ridiculous. Not that telling myself that really helps.

12-14-2011, 09:29 AM
I do want to remind everyone that reading is a mix of phonics, sight words, and developmental readiness. Some kids are ready to read at 4 and some at 8. As long as your child is familiar with phonics, you are reading to them, they have opportunities to try reading . . . unless you have a good reason to think they are dyslexic, or if THEY are frustrated with it, dont sweat it!

It was really hard for me because my older two were both reading chapter books in 1st grade, and my husband taught himself to read at age 4 despite being legally blind. But Raven? he could sometimes read some words and sometimes couldnt. He turned out to be more of a whole-word reader, so memorizing words helped him a lot. He also just wasnt ready. I honestly never did much phonics with him (he had some in ps kindergarten), but i knew he knew the sounds and would eventually figure out how to string them together.

i finally remembered that I was not an early reader either. I wasnt in the advanced reading group until halfway through 2nd grade.

Anyways, I know its hard because obviously kids NEED to learn to read, and it feels like the huge thing you MUST accomplish in order to have homeschoolers cred, but the truth is, you need to SUPPORT your kids in learning to read, but they need to learn it. They need to be ready and want it. Go over and over phonics wont make it click, but the phonics have to be in place for that day when it WILL click. And honestly, sight words do help kids start to get the confidence, and are vital for some kids who learn that way.

12-14-2011, 10:12 AM
I had read early on--when researching homeschooling, pretty much the same thing dbmamaz. That some kids didn't get around to reading until they were 8 or 9. Perhaps it was because they were more kinetic learners and had to get a bit older so they could sit still long enough to concentrate. I know that in my family, we have a sort of learning-sexual dimorphism. Males tend to learn late--with regards to reading and dyslexia runs in the family, mostly in boys. And girls learn reading early. But the boys tend to be excellent at memorization, and mechanically and mathematically inclined.

Other families I have seen that reversed. Or with no problems at all, or with all sorts of obstacles. Everyone is different. And this is where the homeschooling ideal comes in. Public schools have to pretend to teach to the median. But mostly end up conducting crowd control because of the most unruly children. Their class sizes are too large, the teachers are spread too thin, and in many cases good educational materials come at a premium that many communities can no longer afford.

So homeschooling allows us as parents to adjust the education to suit the individual needs of our children. Whether they learn early, or late or right on time--or whether they have learning issues, or behavior problems or some other physical or organic or emotional problems.

We can give them the optimal environment and timing to suit their unique needs.

As long as the parent is attentive, and diligent and loving in this endeavor--then what more could one ask for as a teacher or a student?

Let go of the expectation of perfection [and that is hard] and let yourself allow the child to become their truest, most wonderful self. In public school they must take the shape of the container but in the home-school, the child is the container.

12-14-2011, 10:45 AM
Let go of the expectation of perfection [and that is hard] and let yourself allow the child to become their truest, most wonderful self. In public school they must take the shape of the container but in the home-school, the child is the container.
Exactly! I think the hardest thing to BELIEVE is that there isn't some special secret that schools have that make an education better. Many of the "interventions" for reading problems won't work any better than patience and support, and there are many,, many ways to be well educated. And even if they go to school, your kids might not end up at Harvard. I think it was a real eye opener for me when my sweet, gifted, hard working daughter almost failed out of tenth grade . . ..in a good school.

The schools are better at handling hundreds of kids, but they aren't better at helping each child do their best.

12-14-2011, 11:55 AM
I worry that I've focused on all the wrong things.

I worry that I'm not relaxed enough and don't let us follow enough rabbit trails...
and conversely, I worry that I'm not strict enough about drilling things like math facts and phonics things.

I worry that Mushroom will never chill out no matter what I do. And that he'd do better in school, except then I remember school would be worse. But I worry that I'm not the best teacher for him.

I worry about comparisons. That my kids don't read as well as your kids. Or don't do math as well.

I worry that I'll never get my act together for Chinese or music and it will be a terrible deficit in their education.

I worry that my kids have terrible manners and know how to be friends with other kids and adults they already know, but don't know how to act around strangers at all.

I worry that neither of my kids will read for fun, at least not often, which is absurd because sometimes they do... but I worry that they're not book devourers.


12-14-2011, 01:59 PM
I worry about comparisons too. But then I realize that some kids are naturally gifted to excel in certain subjects and disciplines, or that the parent's have a skill or a resource that I don't have, that gives that kid access to a variety of things.

I too have some of those resources. My kids are gifted in their own way.

That snarky saying, "You are special, Just like everyone else." can be a hard truth if you read it like a cynic. Or you can see it as an declaration of individuality for each and every person out there. That we each have our place. I think that the best thing to do for any person isn't to force them to be a leader or to be extravagantly talented [if it is not in their nature to be that way] but to help them find their passions and their niche in life.

I know we all have insecurities about what we are doing with and to our kids. But parents who have public schooled children do too. They also compare their kids, and they worry about discipline and creativity, and all the things we do.

I figure that kids fall behind in public school all the time. But the difference being for us, is that we don't have teachers and other parents and students passing judgement on our children in their moments of failure or regression. No one passing judgement on us as parents.

Failure calls to adaptation.

If you cannot move the mountain, then it's time to find a way over it, or around it or under it or through it. I think that a lot of our insecurities are due to the inability to let go our our imagined educational orthodoxy that was imprinted on most of us, that we in turn project on our children and their accomplishments and failures.

I would love it if my kids turned out to be super-brilliant scholars in their chosen fields, but I worry that even if that were to happen, that there would be no way to give them access to college with the unbelievable cost of tuition, and the much lower quality of coursework that is being turned out by those institutions simultaneously. The longer I observe our state of affairs in this country, the more I embrace the ideas of the autodidact. Not only for myself because it's all I can *afford, but also as a political statement, a form of protest regarding the matters I have brought up in this post.

12-14-2011, 06:12 PM
I would love it if my kids turned out to be super-brilliant scholars in their chosen fields, but I worry that even if that were to happen, that there would be no way to give them access to college with the unbelievable cost of tuition, and the much lower quality of coursework that is being turned out by those institutions simultaneously. The longer I observe our state of affairs in this country, the more I embrace the ideas of the autodidact. Not only for myself because it's all I can *afford, but also as a political statement, a form of protest regarding the matters I have brought up in this post.

You know.. as a current college student.. I can say it's just a darn piece of paper. I know my passions.. and in the classes in line with my pursuit of a degree, I learn nothing. Not kidding, but wish I was. It is only when I step outside of the box and take something completely foreign to me that I actually learn anything new. I blame my age as much as anything else.. but it isn't just me. My mother is also a college student (after spending her life as an office assistant in one capacity or another) and she's learning nothing. My sister is a college student taking business classes.. and realizing she learned more about employee management in her career as a Mary Kay director. So at the end of the day, the three of us will end up with.. a piece of paper that cost $50,000. I'm pretty intelligent, but all but failed out of high school (went to night school for my diploma). I shouldn't have the 'secret knowledge of higher learning' without the classes.. unless there is no secret knowledge to begin with. College is a huge disappointment to me- the only thing I've reallly learned is that the 18-19yos are coming out of ps clueless about anything at all.

As for the comments about ps's secret for educating children, THIS is what I think is the real thing that keeps folks from homeschooling, and keeps the community at large in stupified horror that we do it. I believed in it, too. It was perpetuated by our ps who dismissed me (and told me to leave the teaching to the school) when dd had her problems. It showed up in their RTI notes (nothing I had suggested was on their pages.. nothing). It is their raised eyebrows and 'eduspeak' when we are trying to talk to them about something education-related. Too bad my father was a psych nurse and I read his notes... I know how much worth fifty-cent words really have BWAHAHA.

Lately I just worry. I'm trying to chill back on my kids, give them time to learn things in their own time. And I worry that I'm not covering enough. Just like reading- love what was said earlier about giving kids phonics so when they are ready, they know them.

12-14-2011, 06:27 PM
That is how I taught both of my children to read. And it does seem to work.

But I will say, I also tell them that they have to do some work. If it is clear that they are bored and not retaining information, then we switch gears, either to a different aspect of the topic or an entirely different topic.

I go from general to specialized. And for the most part, I pick the general subject and allow them to pick the specifics they want to study more deeply in a given subject. We take time off frequently and we do a lot of oral recitation and discussion about things read or what they watched on various documentaries.

You have a whole year to cover a variety of topics. You don't have to take a summer break or take any breaks at the usual PS times. So you can stretch things out. And all the time your kid would spend cleaning up in class, getting in line, marching to other classes, and the time spent getting the kids to settle down and not talk, and lunch, and recess--that stuff is time you can utilize. You are not a teacher controlling or trying to control 25 or 30 kids. So your time and attention are not divided.

If you work a little every day I am sure you can top the 5 minutes of personal time the teacher might spend with your child, and the 10 of 15 minutes spent per subject on actual work before the bell rings.