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.
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.