You know the Joneses.
They're the perfect homeschooling family that lives down the street from you. Ten kids, all well-dressed and perfectly well-behaved.
The mom wakes at dawn every morning, bright-eyed and cheery, to fix a nutritionally-balanced hot breakfast for her family. When she teaches her children, they listen attentively and she never has to raise her voice to get their attention.
The father teaches the children woodworking, auto mechanics, and spelunking on the weekends.
The oldest child earned a perfect score on the SAT and took first place in both the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the National Geographic Bee last year.
The whole family converses solely in Latin on Mondays, Greek on Tuesdays, French on Wednesdays, with Old and Middle English rounding out the school week.
Oh, and their youngest child taught himself to read with Shakespeare at the age of two and became an award winning artist at the age of five.
Sound like a family you know?
Okay, maybe not. But we've all imagined the Joneses. And consciously or unconsciously, we often aspire to mold our families into that perfect homeschooling family.
We try to keep up with the Joneses. But as Martha might say, "That's not a good thing."
I know I've struggled with this before, and I still do at times. In fact, keeping up with the Joneses has been the cause of much anxiety over the last few years.
It's entirely possible that you might be struggling with this as well and not even realize it. So here's a quick symptom check to see if you're subconsciously trying to keep up with the Joneses too.
- When talking to other homeschool moms, do you only share details about the good homeschool experiences you've had and gloss over those more challenging episodes?
- Do you purchase curriculum because it comes highly recommended by other families, but keep using it and refuse to switch even though it's not working for your family?
- Do you sometimes rush through curriculum, requiring your children to complete each and every page, to ensure you finish it completely by the last day of the school year?
- Do you require your children to take music lessons even if they have zero interest in it?
- Do you constantly check your scope and sequence to make sure your children have been taught what they're supposed to be taught by their grade level?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be trying to keep up with the Joneses. If you're up to it, consider the remedy below.
You need to stop trying to squeeze your family into the perfect homeschool family mold, because you can't do it. No one can. And no one should try.
All homeschool families are different. Children have different needs and different learning styles, and parents do too. Stop measuring your homeschool against the myth that is the Joneses.
- If you're struggling with certain aspects of homeschooling, be assured other homeschooling moms struggle with that too. Reach out to someone and find some help, whether it be in person or online.
- If you're using curriculum because it's touted as the best, but it's not working for you, switch! Even the highest-quality curriculum may not fit with your teaching style or your children's learning style.
- It's more important for your child to understand a subject than to finish a curriculum just so you can say you finished it on time. Make your goal to help your child learn and worry less about how quickly they finish their curriculum.
- As a former piano teacher, I'm a strong proponent of music education. However, not all children need to take formal music lessons. Consider your motivations for having your children take lessons, and make sure it's more than just keeping up with the Joneses.
- Keep the big picture in mind when you're teaching your children. The Joneses don't have to determine when and what you teach your children.