Have you ever felt like all you do, as a homeschooling parent, is worry? Worry about whether or not your kids are behind? Worry that they're doing too little, or too much? Worry about the overall balance of their school routine? Worry that they're not getting the same opportunities their peers (at school or in other homeschooling families) are getting?
You're not alone. I call this worrying the "Curse of the Homeschool Mom". We want what's best for our children; that's why we decided to homeschool them in the first place! It's because of this that we worry we're not doing enough, or that they're not becoming well-rounded students, or that they're "falling behind".
These worries all stem from previously conceived notions of what education should look like, and the learning trajectory our children should be on. Oliver Demille has identified this phenomenon as Conveyor Belt Thinking. Conveyor Belt Thinking convinces us that learning should feel difficult, that all children should reach pre-specified milestones by specific ages, that an education is something we have to provide for our children, and that the failure to do this means we're failing as homeschoolers. This is simply not true.
What constitutes a great education? Demille says it's very simple, and boils down to two essential elements: mentoring and the classics:
“The greatest leaders in history used a very simple curriculum. They read the classics, they discussed them with a mentor who accepted only quality work, and they applied what they learned to real life.”
It doesn't benefit anyone to go out and spend exorbitant amounts of money on curricula that do not accomplish this simple task. Many programs overcomplicate the process, and end up producing sub-par results, because they overtax the schedule and energy of the child with things that don't actually contribute to a quality education. This type of Leadership Education is something that can be done within your own home and/or community, if you are able to make time and space for plenty of reading, and to facilitate opportunities for children to discuss what they read with a mentor who cares.
If you find this difficult, it's exactly what our Literacy Essentials Courses do: we read the classics, and we put students in groups with a mentor, so that meaningful discussions can take place. We offer opportunities for students to learn what quality work really is, and how to apply the lessons they find in great books to their own lives.
Homeschooling, when done right, does NOT have to cause the stress and worry that many homeschooling parents experience. Weaning ourselves off of Conveyor Belt Thinking is the only way to turn the "Curse of the Homeschool Mom" into the "CURE of the Homeschool Mom".