Perfect Homeschooling, Curriculum Choice, and Regretting Decisions

A new homeschooling mom on our local list had some questions about tutors, curriculum, and generally freaking out because she can’t figure out the perfect way to get started because she’s afraid of regretting her decisions

I responded to her, and I thought I’d pass this along for those of you who are struggling with fear, regret, perfectionism, or self-doubt. Or, if you are interested in being a stronger, more resilient homeschooler, this post might interest you.

Dear “Alysa”,
I have been reading this thread with interest. After your last email, I thought of some things that might relate to your situation:

1) There is no way to make everything perfect. Letting go of that expectation now will go a long way in making life as a homeschooler, and as a parent, less stressful. Also, expecting things to be perfect is a great excuse for not taking any risks and avoiding responsibility. Own your decisions by knowing that every choice has a risk. Even choosing public school.

2) I understand about the idea about not wanting to regret your choices. The best way to not regret your choices is to understand two things: 1) That you ALWAYS have the option to change course. When you make a bad choice (and you will eventually, we all do), it’s not about the result of that choice that makes us who we are, but whether or not we have the resilience to stand up, dust off the dirt, learn from what we did, and move forward. If you know that you can recover from any choice, then making choices is easier, and more empowering. You’re also more likely to make good choices, because they will be made based on your integrity and love of life, not from fear. 2) You can’t possibly know whether a choice is going to be a good one or not until you’ve made it. Doing research is important. And listening to others’ with experience is also important. But in the end, the choice you make is yours to own. Even if other people might wag their finger at you and say “I told you so,” sometimes we have to make certain choices to really understand where to go next. Listen, absorb, then make a choice, and know that you have lots of other options available for you if that choice doesn’t pan out.

3) Tutors and curriculum: It’s obvious you are very very new to homeschooling. I say that because once you get involved in the homeschooling support groups, go to a couple conferences, subscribe to a few magazines, read a few books, and generally get some experience in the HSing world, you’re going to look around and say, “OMG, how can I possibly choose from everything there is to do???” and you’ll probably look back and laugh at yourself that you didn’t know how to get started with tutors/curriculum. Remember, there is NO rush to get started with these things except in your own mind. Wanting to have a handle on exactly who to follow, who to pay, and what path to take is like trying to hold on to the sand on the beach so as not to get swept away by the tide. It’s better to stand up and let the sand be there to make a sandcastle, not to save you. Tutors and curriculum are FINE. Use them, do them, but don’t let them be your master. Don’t rely on them to show you the way or to make you feel less panicky. They won’t. They will only be a baindaid for that fear. The fear doesn’t come from not having these things. Figure out where the fear is REALLY coming from, and the tutors/curriculum/classes and other concrete learning tools will be there for your enjoyment.

It’s totally normal to be hyper when you’re starting out something SO new, an interesting, and BIG, and fun, and scary, and all that. So, enjoy it. Sign up for everything, get really going. Then, when you feel yourself burning out, back out, do less stuff, and relax. Whether you start by relaxing or start by going into overdrive, you’re still doing a great job and learning about your role as a homeschooling parent.

In the end, there are only 3 things that matter for a child in today’s world of technology and global culture:

1) Relationships, relationships, relationships. This trumps everything. All the tutors and curriculum in the world cannot make up for relationship issues in the family. So, when making decisions, always choose to favor strengthening the relationship you have with your child.
2) Love and curiosity about the world. If a child has this, it doesn’t matter how much or what a child learns. A child who is in love with the world, and curious about it will succeed.
3) Knowing where information is. It’s not what you know, but who, where and when you know. If you know where to get info, that is a much more important skill than actually knowing things. In fact, knowing too many facts can give us the false impression that we don’t need to know any more. (This is part of why kids in school often don’t do a lot to study above and beyond what’s taught to them.) It’s important for people to know they don’t know everything, and that it’s not a life requirement to know it all. Having a strong grasp of available resources allows us to let go of feeling like we aren’t good enough because we don’t have all the president’s names and dates memorized like our cousin Sam does.

Good luck to you and enjoy your child. I hope you’ll come to the HSC conference. There you’ll find out more than you ever want or need to know about curriculum, tutors, and other things you can teach with. Until then, relax and enjoy your new life of freedom.


6 Responses to “Perfect Homeschooling, Curriculum Choice, and Regretting Decisions”

  1. suburbancorrespondent Says:

    Excellent synopsis!

    All you newbies out there, do not forget to have fun…

  2. lori Says:

    1) Relationships, relationships, relationships. This trumps everything.

    Yes, yes, yes! We’re in our first year of homeschooling, and I’ve dubbed it the relationship year. The most important thing is to work on my relationship with my kids and theirs with me and each other. We have learned a lot this year, but once I realized (some time in the late fall) where my focus should be, the learning became much more fluid and FUN. What we’ve been doing doesn’t look like what the local schools have been doing, but we’re still learning and we’re creating a deep foundation for the years to come.

  3. April Says:

    Great post!

    All of your input is something that many of us know, but need to be constantly reminded of…


  4. Karen Joy Says:

    Great post.

    I think it also helps to get a “long view” of homeschooling, which is difficult on the outset. A “long view” meaning that if the choices I’ve made for this year (or this semester, or whatever) don’t work, and I have to, as you’ve mentioned, change them, it’s not going to ruin my kid — It’s not going to ruin him that I made the wrong choice in the first place, and it’s not going to ruin him that I change course. I have, if I stick it out for his whole schooling, THIRTEEN YEARS to correct any mistakes I’ve made.

    Realizing that, like most everything else with parenting, there’s a learning curve both for my kids AND for me, and that I have a long time to correct anything, made me feel at peace.

    I don’t have to get EVERYTHING right in their K year. Or 1st grade. Or whatever. I take a much more cyclic view of things now. “If I miss something this year, we’ll probably cover it again in another 3-4 years, and that’ll be OK.” 😀

    I do still consider curriculum choices, weigh options, research, ask questions, etc. But, I no longer panic about whether or not my choices, if wrong, are going to “ruin” my child.

  5. Mom Is Teaching » Blog Archive » As The Year Begins To Wrap Up Says:

    […] love Tammy’s response to one parent’s fears on perfect homeschooling. Things don’t have to be perfect, in fact nothing ever really is. But who would want […]

  6. Jamy Says:

    Thank you soo much! I just discovered your blogs and I love them! Very inspiring and motivating! I’m a brand new homeschooler so there is that fear I may not be able to give my child a better education than school…but I’m taking in all your advice and I know that I can let loose and learn as she is learning, and most importantly, teach her the importance of faith & values that confinement between 4 walls just can’t do! Thanks!

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