Yesterday I shared the joys of homeschooling conventions and how the experience has changed for us over the years. Today, I’d like to share a potential downside of these conventions. Honestly, it was something that I’ve never noticed before, but I think God brought it to my attention in a very obvious way for a reason.
At one point during the convention, my teens were attending a session together, and my husband and I walked through the exhibit hall with only our younger children. As we explored the various vending booths, a woman shoved a brochure in my hand.
“You will need this,” she said, knowingly.
“What is it?” I asked.
“We are an online school. You may be okay now, but you will need this someday,” she said, glancing at my little ones.
I smiled and thanked her, taking the brochure and walking on. In my head, I laughed. Now, I have nothing against online schools. I am sure that many people benefit from using them, and who knows if maybe we will use one someday. However, I really did not like being told I “needed” one. I will graduate my first child in a year, and I have not needed one yet.
Keep that thought in your mind and set it aside for a moment.
Not twenty minutes later, another woman at another booth inspected my elementary aged children, and in a serious voice, asked,
“Are you doing drills yet?”
“Yes I am,” I answered.
“Well, research shows that drills are the only way for children to succeed in math. You need to make sure you do this rIght. We are the experts.”
Once again, I responded with a thank you and a smile, and walked away.
I agree drills are important, and we do them. But I really, really don’t like the attitude that there is only one way to homeschool, and if you don’t use this curriculum or that one, then your kids will be messed up.
As a seasoned homeschool mother, I recognized that these ladies were just trying to sell me something, and I wasn’t threatened. I wasn’t personally offended or frightened by the words of the online school lady or the math drill lady.
But I was irritated for another reason. Many young, new homeschool mothers are jumping in to these new waters right now. They deeply desire to do what is best for their kids, and they are already overwhelmed by all that is out there. Fear is already there… fear of their new venture. Fear of how their kids are going to turn out. Fear of making the right curriculum choices. Fear of how they are going to give their kids a good education while taking care of the house and baby too. Fear of how they will financially be able to make this venture work.
I know they have those fears, because those were my fears twelve years ago. To tell you the truth, there were lots of other fears too.
So I was not irritated for myself. I was irritated to get a glimpse of the pressure that these two vendors tried to place on me, which for a young mother with less experience, could add MORE fear and pressure to their already overwhelmed selves.
Most vendors are not like this. In fact, in the many conventions I’ve visited over the years, I think this was the first time anyone approached me with the old “FUD” approach. Most vendors do believe that they have something of value, and they are there to show what they had to offer, answer questions, and sell some stuff. Everything displayed in that exhibit hall would be of value to someone, and I think it’s great that we have the opportunity to interact with the vendors and see if their books/methods/etc. are a good fit.
But the PRESSURE! Homeschool moms, especially those new to the journey, feel that pressure… feel the fear, uncertainty and doubt… even without high pressure sales tactics shown by those select few women I encountered. They need confidence. They need to be encouraged. They need to be equipped. They need help navigating the new, deep and wide waters.
They don’t need more pressure.
These thoughts hit a nerve that has been bothering me for a few days.
As I mulled over these thoughts, I wanted to do something to serve and minister to young, overwhelmed moms. I considered perhaps writing a blog about how to navigate through the incredible amount of information in these waters, but had not yet determined quite where I would go with it. Then this morning, providential timing, I discovered that someone had beat me to it! Over at Raising Arrows (GREAT blog, by the way!) Amy is just beginning a series on Homeschool Information Overload. I’m sure she will have tons of better advice on the subject than I could offer, so I am happy to direct you to her. :) If you are overwhelmed by the options out there, if you are feeling those fears of which methods to use and which curriculum is best, if you worry that choosing the “wrong” books could break your kids… fear not. Go visit Amy and be refreshed!