Welcome to week four of my Homeschool Hazard series. If you missed Part 1: Over-scheduling, Part 2: Disorganization, or Part 3: Overspending, please visit the links to check them out. This week’s topic is Unrealistic Expectations.
Before I began homeschooling I had a picture perfect idea of what our homeschool would look like. I envisioned happy children eagerly hanging onto every word I spoke. I saw a neat and tidy school room full of brand new and well organized resources. I saw myself, dressed in the professional attire I was used to wearing to work everyday.
I’m not sure who gave me the rose colored glasses, but I happily wore them for a while. Then one day an old but sometimes cruel friend named Reality stopped by, snatched the glasses from my face, crushed them beneath her feet, and left me to mourn the remnants. Indeed Reality can be harsh teacher.
Unrealistic homeschool expectations can hinder progress, cause stress, and steal joy. If you’d like to fare better than me , check out this list of common unrealistic expectations and do your best to avoid embracing them. Your family will thank you!
1. I will plan and execute the perfect homeschool day. Before I began my first year of homeschooling, I spent the whole summer planning out the entire school year. I was proud to share my carefully constructed, beautifully color-coded schedule with family, friends, and any unfortunate stranger who would politely watch my show and tell. Within three days my scheduled collapsed because Sweet Pea came down with a cold, which she passed on to her younger sister and me.
To expect a smooth and tidy schedule each day is unrealistic. It just won’t happen. Life is ever changing and interruptions abound. We’ve experienced unscheduled interruptions like the impromptu doctor visit when a child has an ear infection or the repairman who comes to make a noisy but necessary household repair. Last year, we had to work around the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which resulted in power loss and caused my mother to have to stay with us for over a week. We enjoyed her extended visit, but not much schoolwork was done that week.
2. I will select the perfect curriculum. I doubt the perfect curriculum even exists. No curriculum or eclectic mixture of curricula will fully meet all the needs of my child. Even if I were to find a nearly perfect curriculum, it might only work for a season. I often find I have to supplement the curriculum with additional materials or exclude parts of it.
Also, do not assume that one curriculum will work for all of the children. Depending on what a child needs, I may use two different publishers for the same subject in different grade levels. In addition, I may discover that a curriculum doesn’t work out the way I expected. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I purchased three different books before I found the reading curriculum that best worked for the children and me.
Pursuing the perfect curriculum can become an exercise in frustration as you read dozens of reviews and wade through sample materials. Relax and know that your children will learn. Mine are finding success using curricula that meets most of their needs but is not perfect in every way. I work to fill in the gaps and everyone is okay.
3. I will be the perfect homeschool teacher. I really don’t know why I ever believed this, especially since I’m far from being the perfect wife or mother! I get sick. I become impatient. I get tired. I forget things. I have to reteach lessons when the kids don’t get it the first time. At times I’m grumpy and unpleasant.
The good news is that no one in my home expects me to be perfect. This is just an unrealistic expectation I’ve placed upon myself. The best news is that Christ is perfect and He can give me the strength and skills I need to homeschool my children in spite of my imperfections!
4. My children will be perfectly eager learners. No matter how excited I am about a particular topic or subject, my girlies will not always share my enthusiasm. In addition, there are times when the girlies just don’t feel like doing schoolwork because they’d rather be playing in the backyard or visiting friends. Sometimes I’m teaching a new and difficult topic that intimidates them and they don’t want to try.
Their lack of enthusiasm provides a good lesson for the children and me. The children learn that in life we sometimes we have to do things we don’t like. I’ve learned that I must constantly adapt my lessons and teaching techniques to meet their specific needs.
If you’ve run into the road block of unrealistic expectations, navigate around it now! It’ll make your homeschool journey much easier. Don’t allow unrealistic expectations to rob you of the joy homeschooling is meant to bring. Don’t invite stress by chasing after perfection. Don’t sabotage your success with an unpleasant attitude brought on by unrealistic expectations. Enjoy the time you spend teaching your children. Grow with them and learn with them. You’re a great homeschool mom. You can do it!
© 2013, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.