When Homeschooling Doesn't Fit Your Mold

When we set out to homeschool, often we paint this picture in our head of how it will look. But reality sets in as we chase toddlers and have to fight bad attitudes.

When we set out to homeschool, often we paint this picture in our head of how it will look. But reality sets in as we chase toddlers and have to fight bad attitudes.

The Initial Picture

When I first began homeschooling back in 2004, I had the ideal picture in my head. I also had only 2 children, one of whom was actually doing any sort of "school work" by the age of 3.

In addition, my first born was (is) a very eager learner and quickly punched through any workbook I placed in front of her. So, by the time she turned 6, we switched to something more robust and challenging: Tapestry of Grace. She rose to the occasion.

Coming up behind her was her younger brother and a one-year-old tornado. Thankfully she started off as a rather independent learner.

The Reality of Homeschooling

When my children were young, I would often have the youngest children running around in the background as I try to teach my older children. They didn't stay engaged very long, and when they did, they made a rather large mess by the end of teaching my lesson.

There are just some things I cannot control and I have to be OK with that. As someone who came from public schools, it's all I have to go off of on how "school" is supposed to look and it has taken a long time for those walls to come down and realize that learning can be done in more than one way.

So, having said all that, the ideal I had in my head to teach my children the same things, at the same time, from the same curriculum just doesn't happen. My children have different needs, learn at different levels, and with different methods. That makes for a rather interesting day of school!

No two days look alike around here, despite my carefully planned out schedule.  The schedule simply cannot account for a child "not in the mood" to do their lessons, a child who gets sick, tired children who've had a long weekend, or distracted children. I mean, really, the list can go on. And with seven children, it's rare we have a smooth day of school.

Check Your Expectations

I think it's important, in order to set ourselves and our children up for success, to accept the fact that our expectations may be too high and to take things as they come. That's not to say we shouldn't plan, but the plans will get messed up and we can't just throw our hands up when that happens. We simply need to adjust ourselves to that reality and work from that place.

Today, I am getting over a cold that has knocked me down these last couple of days. I am still not feeling 100% myself, therefore I cannot perform optimally. In addition, I have not yet been to my friends to pick up our next set of books for the next unit in our Tapestry studies. In light of this, I am adjusting our week accordingly.

christin slade_When Homeschooling Doesn't Fit Your Mold

Thankfully, we just made a great library visit over the weekend, so the children have plenty of new, good quality books to dig into. And because I'm still lacking energy from being sick, I am only focusing on the most important things today. For example, since we aren't leaving the house today, I am not enforcing everyone to get dressed. We can declare today a "pajama day".

On top of all that, reading aloud is often a nightmare because I am always telling someone to "Shhhh". Math consistently puts someone in tears. (Including me at times). Writing, my own favorite subject, is a subject I struggle to teach--especially at varying levels.

Bad attitudes are a norm (I know, they shouldn't be, but I can only encourage good attitudes, not force them). Despite the fact that I've created a schedule and chore chart for each child, I am constantly telling them what they are supposed to be doing. This is all part of training which is an integral part of homeschooling. This is all the reality of homeschooling.

The sooner I accept the fact that homeschooling isn't perfect because people aren't perfect, the smoother our days will go. It's ok when everything doesn't go exactly the way I plan. The goal is to keep moving forward and pressing on.

Homeschooling isn't meant to look perfect, it's meant to serve a purpose, and that purpose will be defined by each family.

For more imperfect homeschool days, visit the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

Favorite Homeschool Resources

4 Tools For the Weary Homeschool Mom

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

How can you keep going in your homeschool when you're weary and feel you have nothing left to give?

We're in the home stretch of our homeschool year and it's been a bit of a choppy year. Although we've pushed through, there are some things I just had to let go of in order to keep moving. 

Homeschooling seven children comes with its challenges. Everyone has their own needs and challenges and it definitely keeps me busy! With all the changes that we have endured the last few years, I feel as if I still haven't quite got my footing yet. It started when we brought our girls home from Ghana, West Africa, almost 4 years ago. So, that added two more children to our homeschool mix...BAM!...just like that.

The following year my youngest joined us for more formal lessons. Two years following that we moved. This year we've been adjusting to that move in a new city. It can only get better from here, right? That's the beauty of homeschooling, though. It offers us lots of flexibility.

But I've lost my footing along the way and need to find it again. 

I'm reminded of the gentle leading and encouraging words of Clay and Sally Clarkson.

Sally encourages mothers in the most unique and beautiful way I have ever come across. I have read more than my share of biblical parenting books, but hers surpass them all.

Educating the WholeHearted Child is my constant go-to manual, not just for homeschooling, but everything that surrounds it; including my walk with Christ, my role as a wife, a mother, a keeper of the home as well as sole educator and spiritual teacher for my children.

I have never read anything more encouraging and beautifully convicting.

In order to keep my focus clear during those tough homeschool days, I remember what I read in Chapter 16 of Educating the WholeHearted Child.

Clay and Sally talk about how important it is to remember our purpose, keep our priorities straight, and have a plan.

Purpose

What is the purpose of a Christian homeschooling mother? Everyone will have a different angle on this, but many of us will have similar goals.

My overall goal is simply to be purposeful in what I'm doing: in my home, my children, my spiritual growth, and my marriage. When a day is hard or everything doesn't get completed as planned, going back to my purpose will help me remember what my goal really is here. It's not to get through a checklist of "to do's" seamlessly. It's to spend my days teaching, nurturing, serving, and loving through each and every moment.

When I remember that, my perspective shifts back and the frustrations can dissipate.

Priorities

I love how Clay and Sally put an emphasis on keeping things limited in this section. We cannot do it all and we cannot be everything to everyone. It's very important we understand this. With that in mind, having limits actually frees us for the most important things. One of the biggest eye-openers for me was limiting my expectations. Expectations can really be a killer. I know it's important to aim high, but when we keep our expectations reasonable (with ourselves and with our children), much more can be accomplished.

Homeschool 2017

Plans

This is the one area I can say with confidence I excel in. I am a planner by nature. Sometimes I do more planning than actually executing.

Sometimes, though, I'm not always good about planning the bigger picture.  I can plan on a day-to-day, week-to-week, even a month-to-month scale. But thinking too far ahead to the future can seem overwhelming and overreaching. I like to take things as they come. I've noticed that if I plan too far ahead, and life takes an unexpected turn, all that far-ahead planning was in vain. So, I stick to short-term planning.

Having a plan gives me direction for my days and it is absolutely necessary. When I tried to ease up (read: let go) of a schedule and any planning of our days, everything was chaos. It was awful.

So, I have embraced the planner side of me and decided, that's how our home best functions and that's what we'll stick to.

Principles

The last thing I'm going to touch on is knowing what our principles are. Why did I choose to homeschool in the first place? Am I confident this is what God wants for our family?

For those of you who do homeschool, have you ever threatened to put your child(ren) into public schools on one of those really hard days? Be honest now.

I have.

But I knew I never would because I know that's not what God wants for our family.

{By the way, I know it's wrong to threaten that. It's been a rare day of doing that and I regretted both times}.

The point is, knowing what your principles are will help you stand on them during those rough days. I don't typically have friends or family giving me a hard time about homeschooling. I think the most I've ever had to deal with is being drilled with some questions or a careless remark here or there. I'm not challenged with my decision on a regular basis.

But I know some families who are and I can only imagine it's a hard road to keep going down (and a frustrating one, I'm sure!)

That's why I need to remember my "why". 

Sometimes just having a day or two off to refresh and refocus helps my weary mind to reposition. Don't underestimate daily prayer for your homeschool, either. God is there to give you peace and fill you with His Spirit so you can carry out what He has for you. 

What do you do to remember to push through the hard days? 

For His Glory,

Christin Slade

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