Homeschool Troubleshooting: Falling Behind

Almost every homeschool mom that I know in real life or online (which is, ahem, also real, of course) has said at some point in their homeschool career: “We’re so behind.”

I’ve said it too.

But here’s the question: behind what, exactly?

Behind what a public schools student can do? (I thought we were homeschooling to give our children personalized education.)

Behind what another homeschool kid can do? (But I thought we were homeschooling our own unique children.)

Behind what I thought we’d have done by now? (Bullseye!)
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On one hand I need to say this upfront: It is possible to be “behind.”

I say this as a parent looking to graduate her oldest in just a few short years. Believe me, I’ve spent many nights wondering if we’re doing enough to prepare her, if she’s ready, if she’s as accomplished as she could be if I had only pushed harder…*cough*

These are not healthy lines of thought.

But I’ve met teens whether homeschooled, privately educated, or public school attending and thought, “This kid is not ready for the real world.” (Actually I think that a lot, but that’s probably another blog post…)

What I have not done is met your seven year old and thought, “Why doesn’t that child know her 12s multiplication facts yet?” Or, “Why doesn’t that twelve year old know as much Latin as my twelve year old does?”

Judgment of homeschoolers is real, both inside and outside the homeschool community.

The comments can be hurtful. The looks can be snide. Sometimes our pride gets bruised and battered.

That needs to be handled and those situations can be difficult.

So, I’m not talking about that right now.

I’m talking about the “I planned to be in Book C by March and it’s May and we’ve barely cracked B” type falling behind.

You are not behind. Your child is not behind.

The plan might be behind. The ideal might be gone. You may never get to Book C. But you? You are going to be fine. (And, even better, so is your kid.

Homeschool Troubleshooting #2: Falling Behind

homeschool troubleshooting falling behind

When You’re Falling Behind: Focus on Your Why

Don’t focus on textbooks or planners. Try not to think about the perfect year you planned last July. Throw out the “suggested schedule” you copied out of The Well Trained Mind or your favorite blog or whatever. (No shade meant for WTM. It’s still one of my favorite homeschool books.) Don’t worry about that mom on the message board who is homeschooling twelve kids and apparently doing everything PERFECTLY. Or that Instagram mom who lives in your dream house and seems to fill her days with meaningful and beautiful experiences.

Remember why you are homeschooling your children. Why are you not sending them to a brick building a few miles away? Why have you chosen a different path for your family?

Know your why. (And yes, your why may be different from mine.)

I’m going to guess that your “why”, your reasons for homeschooling in the first place, did not include “Covering every subject under the sun, every year.” And I’m pretty sure none of us would claim our why to be “living such a tightly regimented life that my children can’t wait to get away from our home.”

Your why is as individual as you and your children, so why are are comparing yourself to everyone else?

When You’re Falling Behind: Focus on What Matters

So, you know your why. You’ve remembered the reasons why your children aren’t asking for a hall pass so they can go to the bathroom. You’ve still got that gorgeous unfinished textbook sitting there mocking you.

So what?

Let me assure you: no public school classroom is getting all the way through every single textbook. It just doesn’t happen.

“But we’re homeschoolers!” I hear you wail. “We finish what we start!”

OK. Finish it then. When you can, when it fits your schedule, at whatever pace works best for your child and yes, maybe even into next school year.

I can hear objections now. What if your state requires you to finish a certain text or course?

Well, drop everything else and finish that thing you need to finish.

Because You. Are. The. Boss. of. Your. Homeschool.

If you are living in a state that requires you to do something, you need to make sure that happens. But you are still the boss of your days.

And if your days are full and yet you’re constantly feeling like you’re falling behind: evaluate. Have you taken on too many outside obligations? Is it possible that you’re trying to cover far too many subjects in far too little time?

Are you overwhelmed by a messy house and unable to focus on your schoolwork? See the first post in our Homeschool Troubleshooting series: My House is Always Messy for some ideas with that particular challenge.

When You’re Falling Behind: Focus on Who (Relationships)

You know what your child will remember when she’s all grown up? It isn’t how many textbooks or worksheets you finished. Although she might remember the books you read aloud or the cookies you baked or the days you played board games all day.

Employers are not going to ask if your child finished every single problem in every single book of Saxon Math. A college will not ask your child when they learned to read. (Knowing how to read is, of course, necessary. But the “when” isn’t.)

People who meet your child as an adult might be curious about homeschooling, but they won’t, most likely, ask for all the nitty-gritty details of your days. (Speaking from experience here, since I’m a homeschool grad. I’ve had far more, “I wish my parents had considered that” type comments than the negative type.)

Homeschooling is a life. Live your life. Make your plans and try to follow through. Ask forgiveness, of God, of your children, of yourself, when necessary. Start again tomorrow. (Or restart your day, even if it’s 2 PM, if necessary.)

“Falling Behind” is a homeschool criticism that we inflict on ourselves. Turn a new calendar page and do TODAY what needs to be done, without obsessing over what SHOULD have been done yesterday.

Enjoy the journey, enjoy your children, and enjoy your flexibility homeschool moms!

Homeschool resources:

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  1. Excellent!