a recovering perfectionist’s guide to homeschooling {part 2}

If I were to take a poll among homeschooling moms, I am certain that the most common thing that other moms say to them about schooling their own children is, “Oh, I could never do that.”

I’ve heard it a hundred times– I even said it once upon a time! Why is that?

The truth is that homeschooling is hard. Mothering is demanding enough: training, discipline, counseling, mending broken hearts and scraped knees, cooking, cleaning, laundry, activities, church, dating…yikes! The list goes on. The thought of teaching math, science, reading, writing, history, and more, on top of everything else, is quite overwhelming.

I think the biggest part of the staunch belief that “I could never do that” is a fear of failing our kids. It’s a fear of failing as a teacher, or worrying that our kids won’t want us as a teacher. It’s often a fear of disappointing our husbands or our own parents and looking the fool in front of others.

The problem is that we think we have to do it perfectly.

As I think about it even now, as I’m typing, I realize that I’ve never met a perfect teacher in my life. I’ve had wonderful teachers. My kids have had fantastic teachers in their different school experiences. But not one of them was perfect.

Sure, they had strengths. They could pull off things that I could probably never do, even with Pinterest and Hobby Lobby and the library for back-up. They had training in specific areas of instruction. But these wonderful people also had weaknesses and areas that they could improve on.

So why do homeschool moms, and moms who fear homeschooling, think that you have to be perfect to teach your own children?

When I started homeschooling, I had only begun my journey as a recovering perfectionist. Needless to say, my fears were magnified to jumbo size, and my expectations were just as big. (I’ll discuss this more in another post). I had an ideal in my mind about how everything would go, how amazing I would look doing it, and how impressed everyone would be with my children after I was done with them. It didn’t take long for my perfectionism to spiral out of control.

My fear of failure fueled my biggest obstacle:

the belief that I needed to control everything.

I wanted control over all of the aspects and variables of homeschooling. Lesson plans, schedules, and rules appear to be the key to control, but it never works out that way. Why? Because when I sit down to plan out a day, or a week, I never take into consideration all of the variables. Someone might be sick. Someone might be moody. Someone might hate the material. Maybe I’m terribly behind on the laundry. A field trip messes up the perfectly paced lessons for the week. You get what I’m saying. However:

All the planning and scheduling in the world

cannot accommodate the variables of each day.

I have found that, when the rubber meets the road, flexibility is actually more important than plans, schedules, and control. When I am flexible, and yield to God’s direction throughout the day, He takes care of the variables. When God’s at the helm, we have the most successful of days. When I am flexible, and maintain an attitude of prayer, a setback does not trigger fear or anxiety like it does when I let the schedule be in charge.

rabbit late

The more I yield control to the Lord, the more room He has to work: to teach us, to use us to love on each other, to grow our family the way He desires. While I think of the time overspent on something as a setback, God may have intended that to be the highlight of our day! The thing that I consider an interruption might provide a lesson from the Lord that I would never have planned on my own.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40:4-5

While a schedule is a good start to organizing the day, being flexible and making adjustments along the way creates a more comfortable environment for learning. I’ve had too many days when falling behind schedule caused me to become stressed and irritable with the children. I’ve discovered something important in the midst of all of this:

If I allow it, schedules and lesson plans can become

an unforgiving measure of my ability to teach.

When the day goes awry and we don’t–or can’t– finish everything, why do we forget all the good that was accomplished? Being flexible allows us to rejoice in what God did during the day, and remain at peace, knowing that we have tomorrow to shore up what was left undone. I’ll tell you another secret about all the teachers you’ve ever known: none of them finished all of the curriculum. Nope, not one. And that, my friends, will be the subject of my next post in this series!

blessings,

Jamie

related post:

a recovering perfectionist’s guide to homeschooling {part 1}

a recovering perfectionist’s guide to homeschooling {part 3}

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photo credit: disneyclips.com

 

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