Fearful of school? Here’s what worked for Tasha, and it’s beautiful advice!
Fearful of school? This can help.
by Tasha Hackett
Pushing Back Fear
I’ve found many helpful things to push back fear. Practical, tangible, concrete ways to stay grounded are so helpful for me. Fear can keep us from doing anything and everything. Niggling doubts and insecurities have a way of sucking the joy out of what could have been an amazing adventure. When we’re faced with making a decision the fear of picking the wrong one can keep us from picking at all until we’re out of time and are stuck to simply go with the default or what may appear to be the easiest.
Write Down Specific Fears
When I was overwhelmed with making the decision to homeschool my oldest I did not know if I was doing the right thing. I would make a decision in my mind and immediately question my choice, therefore I would flip the other way. A pros and cons list never helps me. Maybe because I’m a wordplayer and can manipulate anything to sound the way I want it to. What I finally ended up doing changed everything.
I started writing down every doubt and fear and question I had about homeschooling. In my heart it’s what I knew I wanted to do–I just didn’t want to do it. Essentially, it became a page of fear questions. And it looked something like this:
What if he misses his friends? Will I lose my temper too often and yell at him? I’m going to be too tired when the new baby is born? Wouldn’t it be better for him to be in school when there’s a newborn at home? What if his siblings are jealous of the extra attention he demands? Can I teach him everything he needs to know? What if the school thinks I’m weird because Ben is still teaching there? Is it weird for a family who works at a school to homeschool their own kids? Isn’t that sort of hypocritical? What if I never have time to pursue my own interests again? What if my family doesn’t support me? Is Ben be willing to pick up the slack around the house? What if I completely botch the whole thing and have to send him back to school next year and he’s behind?
After the Fears Came the Truths
When my fears filled most of a page I started a clean one to answer all my questions. This became my page of truths. And it looked something like this:
We can schedule meet-ups with his school friends and will make more friends through the homeschool group. I will probably lose my temper some, but this is a personal problem that needs to be addressed whether or not I’m homeschooling. I will be tired with the new baby, but how wonderful for him to get to experience his baby brother. Loving and caring for a newborn is more important than anything I could teach him through books. I will have fun toys and games to play with the little ones while he does his school. Kids are only here for a few short years, there will be plenty of time to pursue my interests, also I can involve them in my life, that’s part of the joy of homeschooling. My family does support me. Ben is always helpful when I ask him to help with chores around the house. I’m not going to botch the whole thing, and if something happens and I have to put him back in school, that would be embarrassing, but nothing that I couldn’t move on from.
Through the next week, I added more fears and more truths. Eventually, I was able to pinpoint a few main things I was most worried about and a beautiful thing happened: I was able to practically set aside the emotion connected with all those would-be fears and look at the situation logically. When I took away the strong emotion connected with it, it was a simple decision. If I wasn’t afraid, I wanted to bring him home. And that’s what I did. I didn’t pull him out or even start homeschooling. What I did was bring him home and it was the absolute best thing.
I Started With Nothing
I had no curriculum or lesson plans, or year overview. I simply asked him, “What would you like to learn about?” And he said, “crocodiles.” We checked out every book the library had about crocodiles which launched our two-month study on crocodiles and learned loads of new vocabulary, geography, science, math, some paleontology, and archeology. Because we drew pictures of them, saw them at the zoo, and watched videos about them, they came to life in so many ways. Did you know a healthy crocodile can live up to two years without eating? Do you know what an osteoderm is? Did you know crocodiles communicate with each other over distances by the distinct way they splash their torso in the water? Did you know mama crocodiles will sometimes take turns watching the babies? Our studies naturally led to Ancient Egypt and we studied the culture and geography of Egypt, and how and why they built the pyramids. I learned SO MUCH with him during those first few months of school and the younger siblings were there for all of it.
Interestingly, we almost never used a table or desk because we were reading books on the couch or building things on the ground. The second semester I bought a full curriculum and as valuable as it was, I missed those early months of school with him.
I Know You’ve Made a Difficult Decision
If you have kids at home, you have made decisions regarding their school. I don’t want to talk you into homeschooling. By this time, you’ve decided where your kids will be going this fall. But I don’t want you to enter into homeschooling with fear–or send your kids to school in fear. Whatever you have settled on for this school year, I want you to be at peace! You know what’s best for you, for them, and for your family! You’ve looked through the options, you weighed the merits of each side, and you’ve made, or will soon make a decision. And then in three months, everything might flip over on its head and you are allowed to change your mind!
You are not Ariel! As funny as that picture is, it’s just not true! Yes, you want to be consistent, but if the finality of the decision is bothering you, realize you have not signed your soul to the follow-through of either one. (But I would suggest not telling that to your kids, as they may not put their best foot forward.)
Fear Did Not Influence My Decision to Homeschool
When I brought my oldest home from first grade, it was not an easy decision. There were family reasons that influenced my choice to bring him home, not a pandemic, but I still agonized over it. I was full of doubt for many months leading up to it.
Fear is real, and too much is not healthy. The scriptures are loaded with encouraging passages reminding us to “fear not” and that “perfect love drives out fear” and to “cast your anxiety,” etc. God really wants us to live at peace in him and let him guide us. But practically, what does that mean? What does that look like from day to day? How can we lean on him and simply fear not? Are we not still responsible for evaluating the options and making an educated decision and when both options have their pros and cons and neither answer is perfect and we have friends on both ends who are perfectly happy and what if we screw it all up and pick the wrong one and ruin everyone’s life forever!? You get me? I know I am not alone in this struggle with anxiety and fear and trying to hold everything together. The best answer I can give you to push back fear is to actively push back the fear… make sense?
Be in the Scriptures
Wait, come back! Okay, Jesus is the answer to everything, right? I almost didn’t add this Jesus paragraph because I don’t want to suggest some cliché solution or to make it one-stop in a lineup of others. God isn’t the priority that you can check off and then move on to the next thing, rather he’s the center that permeates out into everything. Considering this, please understand that though the above suggestions are concrete solutions, tangible, they are done with a calm mind and the comfort of knowing God’s love is greater and bigger than anything this physical world can throw at you. Being daily in the scriptures and finding ways to connect with the Holy Spirit through study and worship will calm your mind in more ways than you or I will ever know.
Remember You’re Not Alone
Be sure to check out the abundance of resources Laura has already provided here. You don’t have to reinvent anything! I’ve written about Beautiful Feet Books curriculum, and a step by step guide to start homeschooling. Laura has shared about how she makes the start of school special each year, and how this year is going to look different. And we have a whole section of homeschool resources included in your membership!
What is helping you launch this school year? How have you handled the doubts surrounding this year?
May your school year be blessed with peace and joy and lots and lots of smiles.
Tasha Hackett is a friend of Laura who likes to encourage mamas and write about money and school and Christmas. When she’s not forgetting to water her pot of flowers or pick the zucchini she can be found reading books to her four children, launching new business ideas with her public-school-teaching husband or serving a dry crust of bread to her family. Laura is still here and @heavenlyhomemaker, she just let’s Tasha play on the blog a couple times a month. For more homeschool shenanigans you can find Tasha personally on her Instagram account @HackettAcademy.