Ask a very specific question with very little detail.
Should I use Saxon or Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade math?
Should I choose Seton or Mater Amabilis for next year?
The answer to all of the above should always be “it depends.”
It depends on if your fourth grader is strong in math or not, can navigate a computer or not. It depends if you have lots of littles and need some of the instructional portion of math off your plate, or if you want to be the one to directly instruct your kids.
It depends if you want an approach similar to what your children would get in a brick and mortar classroom or a living books education. It depends if you want the support of optional enrollment from an accredited program or are comfortable with support from fellow homeschooling moms.
The more detail you include, the better answers you will receive.
My fourth grader is a whiz at math, and I have 3 kids under age 5. Our plan is to homeschool all the way through high school, and I’m okay with changing math programs at some point. Should I use Saxon or Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade math?
Ask a very broad question.
How do I get my relatives to support homeschooling?
Which is better: classical education or unschooling?
Once again, the answers to all of the above should be “it depends.”
What are your relatives’ primary concerns? How long have you been homeschooling? Do you see these relatives frequently or do they just comment on your social media posts?
What are your goals for homeschooling your children? Do you have adequate resources for either approach in your home, your community, and your budget? Are your children more creative or more introspective?
Again, the more detail you include, the better answers you will receive.
My mother cares for my three children once a week, and she is constantly telling them all the things they are missing by being homeschooled. How do I ask her to stop doing that without damaging our relationship?
Ask someone who is nothing like you.
How do you do all those science projects with your kids?
How do you keep your house so immaculately organized?
While you may admire these moms on social media or when you visit for a playdate, remember that God created each one of us with unique gifts and talents. While they may do some things well that you struggle doing, I guarantee that they do not do some things that you do well!
For example, I organize all kinds of gatherings and ministries for moms, but I don’t mop my house until I’m having people over! I don’t do many science projects or crafts with my kids, but my house is almost always neat and tidy. This is me, and I embrace it.
Do those moms doing science projects have a background in teaching or science? Do those moms with tidy houses have any toddlers? When you ask for advice, who you ask is just as important as how you ask.
Because those moms who are nothing like you might have some good advice, but you might have to discard their advice altogether if it’s unrealistic for you (or you’ll be hitting your head against a brick wall trying to implement it).
Ask when you are at your wit’s end, ready to quit, and crying in the bathroom.
I just found out this morning that I am considered a high-risk pregnancy. How can I still homeschool while on bedrest?
I need to buy a new curriculum before tomorrow, because we are all crying today. Which one should I purchase?
Take a deep breath. Say a few prayers. Get something to eat and drink (we mamas forget to do that). And first, talk to your husband, your family, and your IRL closest friends, in that order. Process what has happened, but do not begin to do intense research or any big decisions for 12-24 hours.
Then, when you are calm, take some time to reflect on what you think your options might be before seeking outside advice. Figure out what your true concerns are and what your family’s priorities are in this situation. And finally, call or message your friends to ask for their input and begin researching how to move forward, in faith and peace.
Ask the Internet.
Should I make my teenagers pray with us as a family?
How do I make my children stay at the school table? Every time I get up to tend to the baby, they disappear.
I know. If you’re a member of Heart of a Mother: Catholic Homeschooling Moms on Facebook, this sounds crazy for me to include. We are a beautiful community of almost 2000 mamas who encourage and support one another with prayer and uplifting conversation!
But it’s not.
When you put out a question on the Internet, you are going to get a zillion different opinions from a huge variety of people, especially if you cross post it in a million places. You are going to get conflicting advice. People might even start arguing over your question, especially if it’s on social media. Some will respond with totally unrelated advice, confusing the discussion. And it can be very difficult to sort through those ideas to decide what will work for you.
Very difficult. But not impossible.
Be sure to post your question in the one space or community that brings you the most peace. This will increase the likelihood that you will get advice that will be applicable to you. Also, keep your post short, state your question clearly, and provide a quick background on the issue.
Then, once you get a reasonable number of responses, take some time to read through them and discern what advice is a good fit for your family. Make notes. Mark the comments that appeal to you most. Follow up with clarifying questions as needed. And then tell everyone thank you.
Because there is a wealth of wisdom out there on the internet, but it’s crucial to understand that there are many equally good ideas. And it’s your job to make the decisions with your family, for your family.
One more point
You will come across people who believe there is only one right way to homeschool. They have found the best curriculum or method in the entire world. Everyone should do it exactly the way they do it, and if you don’t, you are failing your children.
Please do not listen to advice from these people.
God made each family unique. You have children of different ages, personality types, and gifts than any other family in the world. Your family’s home, income, extended family, and employment situation isn’t like anyone else’s. And mama, YOU are the best person to decide what will work best for YOUR family. That’s why God gave you each other!
Making decisions in parenting and homeschooling requires faith and constant discernment. We should not function out of fear of failure. Who we ask for guidance and how we ask for advice makes a significant difference in how difficult it is to make all the decisions. Choosing wisely will lead to confidence and peace!
Coming soon to Heart of a Mother: “How to Get Good Homeschooling Advice” (otherwise known as “How to Find a Homeschooling Mentor”)!