Every now and again, I feel a wave of nausea wash over me when I think about the weeks and months ahead, and what our homeschooling journey will look like. It's worse when I think of monumental occasions like when my eldest would be leaving year six and starting high school. I realised a while ago this feeling was guilt.
Although in my heart I absolutely know homeschooling is the right thing for us and has made significant improvements to all our lives, it doesn't stop me from feeling as though I have taken something away from my children. Have I deprived them of fun times with their friends? Will I regret never seeing them off to prom? Will homeschooling mould them into introverted adults?
The reality is that 98% of the time time, my thoughts are the complete opposite of these. My children have learned to become particularly sociable, being confident enough to approach new children whenever we travel or attend a homeschool group and ask them if they want to play. I think the fact we travel so much will make them far from introverted, and more likely to grow up inspired with a creative, wanderlust mindset. But it's not as easy to shake the what-if moments. What if I regret never seeing them off to prom?
The truth is, homeschooling is a compromise. Yes, you will miss some firsts, their first day at school, first nativity play, first parent evening, and sports day. You will miss some lasts too, the last day of junior school and high school. You won't see your children climbing into a limousine dressed to the nines as they wave goodbye to their final year of school. But the truth is what you get instead are memories that are way more than firsts and lasts. It's important to remember that whenever you feel guilty about homeschooling.
Our time with our children is limited by school and our influence is limited further. But when you homeschool your child you get to slow the years down a little and your influence is pivotal in your child's learning and emotional journey. It's probably not going to be until our children become adults themselves, when we realise what a wonderful decision we made by choosing to home educate, and how none of those other things matter at all. After all, how many of our parents still display photographs of our first nativity play and whatever ended up to that shirt with signatures scrawled all over it? The memories created through homeschooling are priceless and the photographs abundant.
If it's really important to you that your child experiences things like prom, this can easily be achieved by organising something with other homeschooling parents. There's always a way to recreate some of the experiences children have at mainstream school, but there's no way a mainstream school can recreate the experience of a homeschool environment. Just remember that next time you worry about it.