We dream of the perfect homeschool, but often reality looks different. Find out the 3 things you can do when your dreams and reality don’t quite match up.
‘Twas the night before homeschool. . .
'Twas the night before homeschool, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
New books and curriculum had been chosen with care,
In hopes that Harvard scholarships were sure to be theirs;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of perfection danced in mom's head.
Visions of The Perfect Homeschool
Ah yes, the night before the first day of homeschool each year. We go to sleep with visions of The Perfect School Year. We will be organized and intentional, the kids excited to learn. They will wake up, quickly get ready, and eat a healthy, home-cooked breakfast. We will start our day with prayer and snuggling on the couch reading aloud together. No one whines about doing schoolwork. Instead they will ask for more.
But then we wake up.
Reality doesn’t quite measure up to our dreams. The kids don’t want to get out of bed. The baby was up in the middle of the night, so after sleeping a bit later, we reach for the box of cereal. And no one can find the read aloud book.
Then that resource or curriculum that was supposed to be perfect turns out to be less than perfect.
So what can we do when when the reality of homeschool strikes?
When Your Homeschool Doesn't Look Like You Thought it Would
Pray for Wisdom
As the new king, Solomon could have asked God for anything. But he chose to ask Him for wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge to lead the ones God had entrusted to his care.
God has entrusted us with the care and education of our children. Have we asked Him for wisdom to do just that?
There will be times when you just don’t know what to do— how to deal with obstacles, bad attitudes, disobedience, distractedness, frustration, and trouble “getting it” (and this list applies to both us and our children). You will need guidance and wisdom from the One who knows your children better than you do. How often do you go to God first?
When there are difficulties in your homeschool there is one thing you need to do before you start researching and asking for other's help.
Notice this verse follows the command to “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” Trials have a purpose in your life and in your children's. They mature us. The good news is that we aren’t left on our own through them though.
He tells us to ask Him for wisdom in the midst of the difficulties. So let’s start with prayer—on the days that aren’t going well and the days that are.
Then we can research and we can ask questions... and God will help us sift through it all with the wisdom He provides.
Teach the Child
One of my favorite quotes is about who, not what, we are teaching.
For some children and for some of the time, certain books will happen to be just right. But if you find yourself struggling to mold your child to a book, try reversing priorities. It’s the child you are teaching, not the book. Bend the book, or find another; make the studies fit the child.Dr. Ruth Beechick
After you have prayed for wisdom, know that God will give it to you! Instead of trusting a curriculum, book, or other resource—trust the one who created your children. If something isn’t working, then prayerfully evaluate it.
- Is there a way this resource can be adapted for my child?
- How can I approach teaching this subject or concept in a different way so my children will understand it?
- Can I make learning more enjoyable for us all?
- Do I need to address a detrimental character trait in my children or myself?
God makes each of our children wonderfully unique. We have so many choices when it comes to what we will use to teach them. Before throwing out a book or curriculum because it doesn’t seem to be working, first think about how to adapt it to your children. And then if you have to, find a different resource.
Recognize the Difference Between Goals & Desires
Goals and desires are two different things. We can set goals for ourselves. We can even set goals that support our desires for another. And we can guide our children in setting their own goals. But we cannot confuse our desires for our children as a specific plan we can accomplish.
For example, my husband and I have the desire for our children to grow up, strong in their faith, loving God with their heart, mind, and soul. But if I make the outcome my goal, I run the risk of becoming bitter and angry if my children don’t turn out the way I envisioned.
However, our goal can be to provide an environment and home conducive to this desire. We can take our children to church, treat them with love and respect, create family memories, be available to talk and listen, and model our own faith in day-to-day life.
When you don’t confuse desires and goals, you can let go of the results. You can trust God and always hope, no matter what the results are.
The same is true for your homeschool. You may have a desire for it to look a certain way, and you can choose to work toward goals that will help. But when it isn’t perfect, you can trust the Perfect One.
Reality Really is Better!
Yes, some days our homeschool will look exactly like we imagined when we began homeschooling. Days where things go smoothly, our kids love learning, and our hearts join together. We will learn and laugh together.
But there are days when that won’t happen, too—even weeks or months when nothing seems to go as planned. And that is okay too. Because we all learn and mature and grow in the process.
Homeschooling will never be perfect.
But that's okay. Perfection is an illusion. It is in imperfection and difficulties that we often learn the most, when character is formed, and flexibility is forged. Our children grow and so do we.
We travel a road when we homeschool. And roads are often a bit bumpy along the way. Bends and curves, pot holes and grooves, only make the journey better.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.