What Is the Homeschool Comparison Trap?
I have over a decade of homeschool experience, yet at times, I find myself wondering if I have failed as a homeschool mom. It is in these moments of doubt that I realize I have fallen into the homeschool comparison trap.
Instead of focusing on what my family needs, I begin to fixate on what other homeschool families are accomplishing. I notice all the areas in which my children are lacking rather than acknowledging the progress they have made. I want to share the dangers of the homeschool comparison trap and a few ways we can avoid them.
1) Places Unhealthy Pressure on Your Kids
One of the greatest dangers of the homeschool comparison trap is that it places unhealthy pressure on our kids. Our homeschooling becomes driven by the successes of others rather than the needs of our own children.
I remember when one of my daughters was five years old. Her friends were already reading while my daughter struggled to recognize letter names and sounds. The fear of having an adult child who couldn’t read gripped me. Surely, I was failing at teaching my own child. I tried forcing her to endure hours of phonics lessons, but all my efforts only ended in frustration and failure. My daughter began to feel stupid. She was aware of my obsession to have her reading like her friends, and she was even more aware of her inability to meet my demands.
It was then that I realized that I had fallen into the homeschool comparison trap. I backed off on phonics lessons until my daughter was ready. It would be another two years before my daughter was able to read but she never again felt behind in her reading skills. I stopped comparing her to others and began to focus on how I could help her grow and learn at her own pace.
To avoid placing unhealthy pressure on our children, we need to keep our focus on the individual needs and successes of our own kids.
2) Creates Unnecessary Stress for the Parent
Another danger of the homeschool comparison trap is that it creates unnecessary stress for us as parents. We have enough to do when it comes to caring for our family. It is not beneficial to add more stress to our lives by trying to keep our house as organized, our kids as well-behaved, and our homeschool as exciting as the other homeschool families we know or see on social media.
It is necessary for us to remember that no mom is perfect. One mom’s area of weakness is another mom’s area of strength. Your homeschool mom friend who has an immaculate home most definitely struggles in some other areas of her life. We often piece together the strengths of other homeschool moms to create an image in our heads of a super-woman who does not exist in reality. It is only when we stop comparing our homeschool process to others that we can begin to enjoy our own family’s unique homeschool journey.
3) Fuels Your Pride Or Leaves You Defeated
Comparing our homeschool to others either fuels our pride or leaves us defeated. I remember a season of homeschooling when things were running pretty smoothly for me. As I looked around at other homeschool moms, I began to notice that I seemed to be accomplishing more in my homeschool than they were. My pride was quickly puffed up and I began to judge others who weren’t living up to my homeschool successes.
This season was followed quickly by a difficult season of homeschooling. As I continued to compare my homeschool to others, I became defeated. Other moms were surpassing me in making school time enjoyable for their kids. I felt like a failure as a homeschool mom.
To combat this cycle of pride and defeat, we need to abandon our very human tendency to compare and instead, cultivate an environment where homeschool moms can build each other up. There are great benefits in having a community of fellow homeschooling moms who are there to encourage us in our challenging seasons of homeschooling.
4) Distracts You from What’s Important
The final danger of the homeschool comparison trap is that it distracts us from what is really important. We get dragged down rabbit trails, chasing after what other homeschool families are doing, instead of pursuing the goals we have for our own family.
It is important to remember why you are homeschooling your children in the first place. It helps to write out a mission statement for your homeschool. Then, when you are contemplating changing curriculum or determining whether an outside activity is right for your family, you can turn to your mission statement. If the curriculum or activity is not going to aid you in reaching your family’s goals, then you can turn it down with confidence.
The homeschool comparison trap shifts our focus away from our family and what is important. It creates many dangers to our children, to us, and to our families. We must focus on the progress we are making and recognize that there are flaws in every homeschool. This allows us to cultivate an environment where we can build each other up as fellow homeschool moms and focus on what is important for our own family.
About the Author
Janelle Knutson is a homeschooling mom to seven children that range in age from toddler to adult. Her desire is to encourage homeschool moms with practical tips and biblical truth. Her greatest joy is found in Christ and she hopes to share that joy with fellow homeschool moms through her speaking engagements, blog and YouTube channel. You can find her at JanelleKnutson.com.