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by debbie harbeson

October is the time of year I think of all things scary. I can get frightened of creepy costumes, haunted houses and homeschooling. Yes, homeschooling. I went through times of doubt and fear as to whether or not I made the right decision. So this month I thought I'd treat you to a few scary stories:

At first I was scared that I didn't have the (pick one): talent, intelligence, ability, patience or creativity to homeschool. Then I realized that all I really needed was the desire. I didn't need to be perfect; I just had to be a caring, loving mom. There is an amazing amount of good information and experienced people all waiting to help. I could learn with my kids and get help when and if I needed it.

At times I was scared because of the socialization issue. I believed the myth that my kids needed to be with kids their own age all day in order to develop socially. But then I learned that this was just a phony mask that traditionalists use to try and scare families who consider homeschooling. I soon found plenty of ways for my kids to interact outside of the neighborhood school building.

At times I was scared because of the responsibility. But soon I learned to enjoy the freedom that comes with it. We had the whole world of educational ideas and philosophies from which to choose. We were free to make our own decisions on what, when and how to learn. If we found that something was not working, we could easily change it. I discovered that this flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of homeschooling.

At first, I was scared to get out during the day. Then I realized that this was silly because homeschooling is perfectly legal and we don't need to hide the fact that kids are capable of learning outside the local school building.

At times I was scared to allow my kids the freedom to learn what they wanted and how they wanted. But then I saw how much better they did once I got out of the way.

At times I was scared that I might miss something important. I soon learned that if it's truly so important, we weren't going to miss it. I also realized that there is so much knowledge out there that I can never give them access to all of it. All I really needed to focus on was making sure my kids kept that natural curiosity and desire to learn.

At times I was scared that my kids would miss the fun things of school. Then I realized that as homeschoolers we were able to experience so much more than they ever could while stuck in a school building all day.

At times I was scared that my kids wouldn't "keep up" with their institutionally schooled counterparts. But then I learned that I don't have to constantly compare my kids to others. My kids are unique individuals who have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. We could go at our own pace and enjoy the trip without the constant worry of comparisons.

At times I was scared that I wouldn't have my own life. But then I learned that I could have hobbies and there were ways to have time on my own if I wanted it. I also realized that following my own interests wasn't only good for me, but it became a good model for showing my kids that learning and growing is a lifelong experience.

These scary stories were simply my fear of the unknown or my imagination gone wild. I realized there was really nothing to be afraid of once I was able to take off the scary masks that my thoughts created. Oh, I still get scared of haunted houses and creepy costumes, but homeschooling doesn't scare me anymore.



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