Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - September/October 1995

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

Contending With The Many Pressures of Homeschool

by Dorothy Moore

Time was when legal pressures were the greatest deterrent to happy homeschooling. Now that laws and policies have changed to make every state better, we note that other pressures are the most unsettling to parents. One is the pressure of support groups where the majority of the members, at least the most vocal ones, are using conventional school methods and it causes the family to conform to the norm, at least until they realize that their children don't learn best that way and find them frustrated or burned out. Fortunately, they often discover that homeschooling is learning from living and not school-at-home. These experiences are often reflected in "Letters- to-the-Editor." Here is one:

I have just completed your new book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. I read the book 3 times, so I didn't miss a thing. It is wonderful. We homeschooled in Alaska for 3 years and followed the Moore Formula. Then we moved to Pennsylvania (upon my husband's retirement from the U.S. Navy). For a year we have been caught up in evaluations and a formal homeschool support group with a statement of fait and laws on curriculum to follow. After this last year I am exhausted and this has never happened before to me. At the beginning of the summer I began to form another support group based on the Moore Formula. We are small (5 families) but it's great. After reading your new book, I am back on track. I have all your books and I am slowly re-reading them. Now she is getting acquainted with our program and wanting to renew her Moore Foundation Associate status.

Related to the above, is the fact that most adults were brought up and educated in the public school system. Even if they were in Christian school, the methods were the same. And the tendency to teach the way we were taught is very strong. Going to a curriculum fair doesn't help any, because the biggest and fanciest displays are school-book distributors. The only cure we know for this is the ultimate burn-out of the family and finding a helpful friend or reading about a simpler way, such as in The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. The saddest stories are where the family finds no alternative and simply quits to send children to formal school again. We hear of a few of these almost every week.

Then there are relatives, friends and neighbors, including husbands   often employed or formerly employed by a school system. Many of them are convinced that no one except a trained teacher can educate anyone. Sometimes the only solution is to wait it out until they can see the contrast between your homeschooled children and others. This puts you to the test in terms of your discipline, but hopefully you do not succumb to the pressure to make your child outdo conventionally-taught children. Unfortunately, all homeschoolers cannot pass this test, and the image of homeschooling is damaged. Others have successfully prepared the way by getting the doubting individuals to read one of our books or monographs, especially What Educators Should Know About Homeschools.

One parent writes about her many pressures and her relief when she is able to escape to a different state and avoid these pressures. Unfortunately, all cannot be so fortunate: Due to a [transfer in my husband's work] we have moved from California to North Carolina   far, far away from the scrutiny of my family, I might add! No longer having the responsibility of my extended family, a homeschool support group and church nursery, our homeschool runs consistently and smoothly with very rare interruptions. I find I enjoy homeschooling our children so much more without these responsibilities!

My involvement in other activities drew me away from my primary responsibility of being wife, mother and teacher. These responsibilities did not include the children. I fell to peer pressure in our church to be "committed." The church was not supportive of homeschooling for they had plans to add on a Christian school to their church. I decided that it would be helpful for the church to see a homeschooling family serve, because several of their challenges to homeschooling were that a family who homeschooled could not give enough time to the church and also that homeschooling families did not trust God with their children. The ministry I was involved in required so much time away from home with meetings and schedules!

On top of that, our homeschool group wanted activities, activities, activities! Guess who was responsible for putting them all together? You guess it!! I didn't even want the activities but for some reason, my willingness to say YES I suppose, drew others to ask me to set up field trips...I learned how vulnerable I am at the age of 40 to peer pressure! I am so thankful God took us away from all that. I think now I'll be able to say NO when I need to, for I have seen first hand what happens to our home and schooling when I say YES.

Probably one of the most difficult of current pressures is for a well-educated woman who has launched a successful career and then becomes a mother. Her boss, her relatives, her friends and neighbors are likely to make it very clear to her that she will be wasting her talents and education and even depriving others of the contribution she could be making to society in her career. For this, there is no other solution than for parents to settle it for themselves that being a good mother is the most important thing for her to do at this time and that her career can be put on hold until the children have been educated adequately. She needs to understand that she can have the best of both worlds, but not at the same time. There are many successful women who have done this and lived a very fulfilled life, knowing that they have given their best to their children and still made use of their talents and education to serve others.

We find that some moms start out wonderfully and really enjoy homeschool for a year or two, but then become so fearful of an impending test requirement or possible failure that they resort to textbooks and workbooks for a specific grade, thinking that if those books are completed, their child will at least be able to finish his grade and re-enroll in a conventional school, if necessary. Even children are sometimes caught in this net, fearful that they will not keep up with their classmates who remain in school. We hear fears that there will be gaps in their learning. Even teachers will sometimes tell them so. I don't know just what these imaginary gaps are, but one way to tell if a child is achieving the objectives normally accomplished in each grade is to use the check lists given in Skills Evaluation for the Homeschool, K-6. Sometimes simple grade objectives can be procured from your public school district.

One mother confessed that she felt an obligation to have her children perform better than the private school from which she removed them, so she used the same textbooks and workbooks, but increased the pressure. Obviously this ended in disaster. We are particularly concerned about families with young children who have the opportunity of starting right. If they can understand what real homeschooling is and contact us early, as you will note in "Questions and Answers" in this issue, they have a very good chance of having years of successful homeschooling. Some moms actually feel quite confident in continuing to wear a "mom" hat and parent as they always have with the various helps which are available to them. If they are not confident, we strongly urge that they join the Moore Academy and get the security they need from the help of our counselors. It is particularly satisfying to us to be able to rescue a family which has been close to shipwreck and then finds the extra encouragement and support to finish their school year with success.

To avoid any of the above pressures, we strongly advise you to do your "homework" by becoming informed through wide reading, knowledge of the state law and the local homeschool "climate." Along with this information, set your priorities and determine not to be deterred by outside influences.