I’ve noticed that my attitudes get passed along to my children with pretty much zero effort on my part. When I am happy, things mostly flow along happily. When I worry, their worry amps up. When I am frantic, so are they. When I am calm … well, there’s always an exception to prove the rule.
Fear. Insecurity. Worry.
This homeschool gig has a lot to worry about from the daily:
- How will we get it all done?
- Am I doing it right?
To the long-term:
- Will my child be a productive member of society?
- How does homeschooling affect my relationship with this child?
- Would they be better off if… ?
Children sense our fear. They note our insecurity. Our worry becomes palpable. Our fear, insecurity, and worry come out in our children in whining, complaining, and outright defiance. They become intractable.
A vicious spiral of bad attitudes and complaining begins. These, in turn, undermine mom’s choices which undermines mom’s already limited confidence and increases her insecurities. And we’re back at the beginning – only starting from a worse place than before.
This insecurity either sends us back to find something “better” or it ends the adventure of homeschooling and we send the child to school.
No Vision. Scrambling. A Chasing after the wind.
The best case above is that mom goes searching for something “better.” However, without the foundational step of writing a vision for our family, we are easily overcome by every complaint, by constant scrambling, or by the hot new thing.
Without a vision, we don’t actually have a way to gauge what would be “better.” Without a vision, we’re back where we started: tentative about our choices.
If we aren’t confident in this book, this curriculum, this project that we’ve chosen for our child, their complaints may make us quit or burn out.
Several years ago, I followed one philosophy but added a second on top of it because I wasn’t fully confident in the first – I thought we needed more. This, my friend, is a recipe for burnout; and boy, did I.
But, because my husband and I had a vision for our homeschool, we could repent, regroup, and make appropriate changes. We couldn’t be happier with where we ended up landing.
Without a vision, we look for the “perfect” curriculum or book or the “exact right” way to do some lesson or another. It’s as though we think if we input the right thing the right way our child will turn out perfectly. What a heavy weight to bear!
The perfect curriculum doesn’t exist and actually doing lessons is better than freezing up with the perfectionism of doing them “exactly right.” As Jon Acuff says, “Some beats none.”
Without a vision to compare to, our eyes will be swayed by every new shiny thing on the market. And there are always new shiny things. The grass is not always greener. Without having given the resource a reasonable chance by working with it faithfully, we can’t know that it isn’t what we wanted to begin with.
Homeschooling is work. It will never be effortless. But, it is good work. A vision gives us a firm foundation so we are neither swayed by the wind nor chasing after it. A vision helps us faithfully carry out the work.
Overwhelm. Burden. Guilt.
When we are afraid, we can’t see because of the cloud of doubts, the path is blocked with seemingly impenetrable boulders, homeschooling becomes a heavy burden strapped to our backs.
All that fear and chaos keep us from even approaching the school room. We are overwhelmed with confusion. It becomes easier not to do school at all. Then, we have the guilt piled up besides.
Have you ever felt this way?
What I really want to talk about today is confidence, not fear.
Confidence has work to do in so many parts of our homeschool lives:
We must be confident in our choice to homeschool. We have determined that this is the best choice for our family. I don’t know how many times in the younger grades I told my children this.
They would ask “why can’t we go to school?” and I would reply, “Because your father and I have decided that this is the best choice for our family.” Now, they, too, see.
We must be confident in our vision. I’ve already talked about this above.
I just want to add that my friend Virginia Lee reminded me that the decision to homeschool needs to have a Why before a How.
We must be confident in our choices. You chose some resource for a reason – what is it? If your child hates it do you cower back in fear and begin searching for something else, or do you work with them to see its value and, within reason, assert your role as teacher?
We must be confident in the lesson – or in our ability to figure it out. I see it over and over. We all want our children to be self-motivated, lifelong learners who can solve problems and make a difference. We want them to say, “I can!” about just about everything.
When it comes to some lesson or another, though, we say, “I don’t know why that works.” (I’m just as guilty – “Let’s ask Daddy when he gets home.”) You must be willing to model what you want. That begins with the confidence that you can solve the math problem or read the hard book or do the science experiment or find help from someone who can. I hired a Latin tutor last year and outsourced Latin for my oldest for this year.
We must be confident that we can teach the children before us. Remember how they sense fear? You have been given a duty and the authority to accomplish it. You may have to be creative and problem solve, but confidently, consistently doing school day after day goes a long way to helping your children have confidence in the whole process.
Our children must be confident in us. Are we giving them someone easily swayed or constantly worried? Are we stopping lessons to find something better after little testing? Are we undermining our own trustworthiness and authority with our fearful attitudes?
Ultimately, we must be confident in the Lord, His calling, His promises. We can be confident in ourselves because we have been given a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who helps guide our steps. He equips for every good work. EVERY good work.
A little bit of confidence grows greater confidence. Confidence can grow from having a vision and a plan. It can grow from consistency. It can grow from knowing you have someone in your corner. Tescille Riser, a member of a previous Homeschool Consistency Boot Camp, had these takeaways and shared them with us
My friends, be confident. You can homeschool. You can homeschool well. You can get up every day and faithfully do the work before you. Stop undermining your own efforts. Stop blowing about in the wind. Stop overburdening and blinding yourself with worry.
Take a deep breath. Pray. Step forward.
For more tools like this and help with consistency in your homeschool, check out our Homeschool Consistency Bootcamp. We are opening it September 13, 2018 and you can click to get on the waiting list below.
She is the author of the free ebook: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will: Charlotte Mason’s Motto Explained for Upper Elementary Students.