To the mom hiding behind your computer screen, searching for the next best curriculum….I know you well. You spent months researching different home school programs, curriculum, groups, and how-to’s. You read every blog, article, meme, and Facebook post that had anything to do with homeschooling. You talked to your spouse, to your friends, and to God about this undertaking and you were giddy with the amazing picture of what it would all look like in your head. When UPS arrived with the small fortune of books, materials, and fancy home school planners, you spent hours going through everything, inhaling new text book smells and blank workbook pages that would soon be filled in with your brilliant children’s work.
Speaking of the little Einstein’s, I know them as well. I know all your dreams and thoughts for them. I know how you agonized over taking them out of the school that they (and you) loved because you felt that God was calling you to do a new thing. But they also were excited and begged to get started before their last year at school was up. And their excitement added to your own, making you certain that the decision was the right one.
You had bought into a vision in your mind of how it would look. You’d read plenty about the joys of homeschooling and spending precious time with your children. No more wasted time in a classroom setting! Every second of every day, they would be learning and growing. And loving every minute of it. You saw yourself taking them on amazing outings and using the great outdoors as a classroom and molding your little protégés into independent learners and free thinkers! Your child with the learning/emotional/physical need would be both challenged and allowed to progress at his or her own pace. You had battled self doubt, friends doubt, and family doubt, overcoming every argument. You couldn’t wait until the first day!
Until the first day comes. And expectation meets reality. Your once excited pupils suddenly realize that schooling at home doesn’t mean we just do whatever we want, but that reading, writing, and arithmetic are still a vital part of their day. Their little dream of sleeping in every day and living in our jammies is just that. A dream. Between the two year old toddler vying for attention, the phone that won’t stop ringing, the dishes piling up, and the laundry pulling at you, and worst of all, your once excited students have now become whining and griping monsters, the weight of the decision hits you. And in that moment where the fantasy meets the reality, you feel yourself wilting inside. “Wait just a minute, here!” Your inner voice screams. “This is not what I signed up for!” “Where’s the joy? The excitement of learning?”
And then, almost immediately the guilt sets in and the lies bombard your mind as your inner voice begins to runs down the List of Things You Didn’t Do Right:
~Lie 1. “It’s because I’m not doing enough.” Our best is all we can do. Enough is a pipe dream.
~Lie 2. ”They’re bored! They’re supposed to be loving this! I didn’t get the right curriculum.” They’re kids. They’ll get bored a theme park eventually. And home school still has the word “school” in it. It does require work. Contrary to what some people think.
~ Lie 3.“I’m not equipped to teach them.” They are YOUR children. You are the best equipped to teach the little buggers.
~ Lie 4. “This is supposed to be fun.” Says who? That mom who writes blog posts for a living and only posts the cute/fun/perfect pictures? Show up at her house unannounced at about 4:15 pm any week day and I think you’ll see a different picture.
~ Lie 5. “I’m not crafty/smart/creative enough” Here’s the thing, we need to realize and teach our kids that learning is an ongoing process. We are always learning. The joy in homeschooling comes when you figure out that you are learning with your kids. You are teaching them to love learning! Eventually. The day we think we’ve arrived and that there is no more to learn, is the day we die. Remember that the next time you talk to some “expert” who refuses to acknowledge that we are all life-long learners and acts as if he/she has it all figured out. They are dead inside. Move along.
~ Lie 6. “I didn’t pray over them enough.” Really? God keeps a score card? I missed that in the Bible. And there’s that word again. Enough.
~ Lie 7. “I shouldn’t have nursed them to sleep when they were babies.” Just. Stop. It.
~ Lie 8. “I shouldn’t have co-slept/let them cry it out/given them vaccinations/not given them vaccinations.” No, really. Stop.
And on and on until you are a blubbering, guilt ridden mess hiding in your pantry, sneaking chocolate while your children are watching TV because you could not handle small, whiny voices interrupting each other with, “What’s 8 x 8?” “How do you spell arachnid?” “Why do I have to write my name on this paper?” You have simply given up. And it’s only 10am. On the first day. (See? I do know you.) Just stop. Put down the chocolate. It’s not you. It’s not them. It’s life. I’m going to tell you a secret I wish I would have embraced when I first started. Are you ready?? Here it is: It’s ok for them to be bored. As a matter of fact, it’s good for them to do some monotonous things. Your job is to prepare them for life. Not to entertain them. It’s ok for it not all to be fun. It’s ok for them to do things they don’t want to do. It’s called character building. Your job is to pour more than just the multiplication table, English grammar, and history lessons into them. What would it matter if our kids mastered all of the laws of physics and mathematics but failed the simple assignments of kindness, compassion, discipline? Andrew Kern said it best when he said, “Children are souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured.”
So give yourself some grace. It’s ok for you to bumble through that first year or so trying to find your own personal rhythm, because that’s what it’s about. You’ve got to find YOUR family’s tempo because no two are the same. You’re learning something you were probably never taught unless you were home schooled yourself. Stop comparing yourself. Pour into your children. The most important lessons they will learn will come from watching you. Breathe deeply. Let them see you struggle and lean on Jesus to get you through. Prepare them to live radically for Christ first and they will be prepared for college.
Remember mommas, we CAN do all things through Christ which strengthens us. Even educate our kids. If you get nothing else out of this rambling post, just remember, with Him, you, imperfect, curriculum changing, chocolate eating, grammar diagramming nazi (or not), Pinterest fail queen, are ENOUGH.I’m off to the store to finish the last of my school supply shopping. Notebooks, pens, and chocolate for the pantry.