This is the time of year that I naturally step back, take inventory of my life and where I’ve grown, where I need to grow, and where I’m planting that isn’t fruitful. Sorry about the growing analogy… once I started, I was kind of stuck. I’ve been considering things like my relationships with family, friends, and online, my responsibilities of , home education, writing, and as a message board owner, and the things I love and enjoy like my hobbies.
This is also the time of year when home schooling mothers start questioning themselves. Are we doing too much, too little– why isn’t everything as perfect as I imagined back in August when the boxes of curricula arrived? We’re usually our most diligent in September through November and then again in spring after Easter. This isn’t any kind of scientific research. It’s just what I hear from mothers when they start talking about their school year at this time of year.
It becomes tempting to second-guess more than a schedule or curriculum choices. Soon, an entire philosophy of education comes under fire as doubts multiply faster than dust bunnies under my couch. Early or late, classical or Charlotte Mason, Lifestyle of Learning or straight textbook– the debate rages internally and then spills into conversations both with local friends and confidantes and on internet message boards and blogs.
Some responses are quite predictable. Any time a mother is struggling, one of the first suggestions she receives is to take a couple of weeks of to regroup. She’s pushing herself or her kids too much. The family is sick– take time off. I’m not going to rehash how much this bothers me. I blogged about it a couple of years ago, but if taking a week off for a ‘teacher in-service’ week to regroup so you don’t grow ‘weary in well doing’ then by all means, take those few days.
I truly think the root of our problem comes from trying to make sure we show everyone how great we’re doing– that we’re as good, or better yet better, than our educational counterparts in the government or private schools. I think we get too caught up in proving ourselves as teachers instead of proving ourselves teachers to our students. Our responsibility isn’t to the home schooling movement, to the naysayers, or even to ourselves. Our responsibility is to our students– our children. They are the one who will bear the brunt of an overzealous mom trying to shovel information into their minds like food into a pate goose. They are the ones who will suffer when we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by our responsibilities and shut-down.
There are several maxims that apply well to home education. I’d like to remind us all of them again.
- Slow and steady wins the race.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
- You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
- You reap what you sow. (This kind of implies you have to sow in order to reap… don’tcha think?)
- If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
It helps to recharge when life gets this. First, I recommend When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul Jr. This book is one of the most encouraging books on home education that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It reminds me that there is so much more to educating our children than pounding their brains with information.
The How and Why of Home Schooling is a really basic book on why someone would make the choice to home school in the first place. Whenever I felt tired and wanted to just quit, I’d pull out this book and think, “Oh yeah, this is the point. This is why I’m putting all this work into this.”
Now the third book I recommend is kind of a surprise to me. I wasn’t sure. Upgrade by Kevin Swanson is a great book subtitled Ten Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child. I didn’t expect to enjoy this book. To be honest, I expected it to be a treatise on how to make education rule your family’s life. It isn’t. It’s not that I agreed with every word in the book, and really, there is an undertone of “We have something to prove”, but aside from that, the book was encouraging. It reminded me that this is a job, I can do it, and I can do it well.
Take a breath today. Look into your children’s faces and smile at them. Think about where they’re doing well. Every child is doing well in some area of their life. Find something they can succeed in, and give it to them. Help them feel that wonderful sensation that comes with success! Find their weak spots, help them overcome them. Set yourself up for success.
However, for your sake and the sake of your children, make yourself step up and serve them exactly what they need, not what someone else expects, not what trying to prove anything to anyone. I really like what I said up there, so I’m going to say it again. I think we get too caught up in proving ourselves as teachers instead of proving ourselves teachers to our students.