Dear Homeschool Mom Who Doubts Her Teaching Ability

Dear Homeschool Mom,

Homeschooling isn’t easy. In fact, at times it’s downright discouraging. But don’t lose hope, for your children need you. They need to see that you are there with them. They need to see that you care, and they need YOU to be their biggest cheerleaders.

You see, a year ago, I was THAT homeschooling mom.

Black old empty chalkboard for copy space with colorful pieces of chalk

You know, the one who was discouraged because her son was barely reading and seemingly hadn’t gained a single new skill in reading over the past year. When I was with fellow homeschooling parents, I pretended like it didn’t bother me. That he didn’t have a problem. That he was a late bloomer in the reading department. That if I ignored it long enough, the problem would correct itself and he’d catch up to everyone else, right?

And in those few moments when I did bring it up to my friends, they assured me that he was bright and things couldn’t be as bad as I described them.

Back at home when we read, it was always together and it was always out loud. This way, I could help him sound words out. When he missed a word, I could quickly ask him to re-sound it out.  Correcting the problem! That’s the spirit! He’ll get it next time!

Actually, ‘next time’ was usually five minutes later. Scolding, I would emphasize that he should already know the word “this” by now. That all third graders could easily read “this” by now. Tears ensued.  Then I would cry because I was a horrible homeschooling mom who was incapable of teaching my child. That he wasn’t getting better. That he should be doing this on his own by now. That I’m a failure.

Despite the number of ways I tried to teach him, the number of activities I supplemented with, and the number of curriculums I tried, I just could not teach my child to read.

Simply, I am a complete and utter failure at this homeschool thing.

Then one day I googled a simple search string.  It was a phase my husband said while we were casually talking about movies. “Isn’t it strange he hates 3-D movies? What kid doesn’t like a 3-D movie?  He says he would rather watch the movie without the 3-D glasses than with them on.”

Ten minutes later, I read article after article about how not being able to see 3-D movies is a sign your child has convergence insufficiency, a binocular vision disorder that causes the eyes to not focus together. As a result, the letters ‘n’ and ‘r’ look identical. So do ‘i’ and ‘l.’ And ‘m’ and ‘n.’ As well as a host of other letters.

My child couldn’t read because he couldn’t see!

When the official diagnosis came out, I bawled in the doctor’s office. Hallelujah! I finally had an answer to why he struggled so long and hard! And honestly, the signs were there all along, and something I had suspected since he was two.

And then the guilt set in.

I had made him cry.
Because of something he couldn’t help.

It’s been nearly a year now, and reading is getting easier. Now I know that if I give him just a second glance on a word, he often corrects the error on his own. And, he believes that he’s an amazing reader. With time and a little more confidence, he’ll be ready to take on the world — and any great book! I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Are you struggling with your children? Feel like a failure? Doubting yourself and your abilities? Don’t!

Don’t waste precious time on false battles. They are not yours to fight.

Instead, love your children where they are on this homeschool journey. Cherish every moment. Encourage them through their struggles. Celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments. Point out the things they are good at. Give them the strength and confidence to see who they can become.

And know during those momma moments of doubt that it’s not you. And it’s not them. It just is… and being in the “is” is where they grow, respond, and become the person God created them to be.

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