It’s a natural human instinct to be competitive. Some people tend to be more competitive than others. And while we usually think of competition in relation to games, the competitive nature is often lurking behind the surface of many things – including homeschooling!
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This is probably the most obvious place where you will find competition in homeschooling.
There are parents who are competitive over academic achievement. They push their kids to know more than their peers and master things earlier. They want their kids to be 1 or more grades ahead without considering whether their individual child is really ready for that. This often leads to moving too fast, too quickly and burn out. It can cause kids to lose their natural joy in learning too.
Now, don’t get me wrong, not everyone who has advanced kids is competitive. There are many parents of advanced kids who were simply following their child’s readiness and abilities – there’s nothing wrong with that!
I get it, in some ways it can be easy to fall into this kind of competitiveness, especially if your ability to homeschool is called into question. You want everyone to know that you CAN do this & your kids is SMART! Right???
But listen, you don’t owe that to anyone. It is important to provide your kids with an amazing, well rounded education, but it doesn’t need to be competitive. The way you approach it & your attitude in how you talk about homeschooling matters so much! So check yourself regularly to make sure you have the right attitude about homeschooling. I highly suggest you learn about growth mindset and use that to inform your approach!
The Perfect [insert education philosophy] Parent
Education philosophies are often the first or second thing parents get into when they start homeschooling. They find Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Classical, Unschooling, etc., fall in love and want to do exactly that philosophy that resonated with them.
Then it starts getting an underlying competitiveness to being the best, most perfect [insert education philosophy] homeschooler possible. The problem is that many of these philosophies are not backed by evidence that they are effective, and often won’t 100% fit all of a family’s homeschool needs. Sometimes they might work well for 1 subject, but another subject needs something different.
It’s ok to find a philosophy that resonates with you, but don’t get hung up on executing it perfectly. Be open to new ideas, and where necessary make sure you are using curriculum that is evidence based. This is particularly important when it comes to teaching reading.
Many of these philosophies are so prescriptive that they don’t leave room for following your child’s readiness and abilities either. Some delay academics too long for some kids while others might push them too early. Taking into account your child’s readiness and abilities is one of the HUGE perks of homeschooling that you don’t want to miss out on.
Be the Busiest
Homeschooling really doesn’t take as much time as typical school. It takes up less hours of the day and there’s no homework! This is great because it gives kids time to just be kids, play, and explore their own interests.
Then you have parents who try to take the extra time and fill it with more of everything. More curriculum. A full day co-op (or 2). Extra classes and sports. They get busy. Their kids are busy. And being busy becomes a badge of honor to strive for.
Again, doing some of these things is great, but be careful not to fill your schedule just to be busy all the time. You and your kids need unscheduled time to just be.
Homeschooling is Not a Competition
While homeschooling shouldn’t be a competition, we find so often that the underlying attitude of homeschool parents is competitive. If you find yourself in one of the above camps, don’t panic! Just take a step back and evaluate why you’re being competitive. Try to address the underlying reasons so that you can change your mindset toward homeschooling.