(Portions of this post originally appeared on the Golden Grasses website- by Lisa Nehring)
It’s that time of year when parents are re-evaluating schooling options for their kids. I hear over and over again, “I want to homeschool (or my kids want to homeschool), but I’m so worried I’ll fail.” Having homeschooled for 25 years, we’ve seen it all. Wild homeschooling success and wild, abject homeschooling failure. Here is my not so subtle list about how to fail as a homeschooler. Check it out. Maybe it will help you evaluate whether or not you have what it takes to succeed as a homeschooler.
(Wondering why we homeschool? You can find the answers here.)
1- Stop Learning
I mean you, the Homeschooling Teacher. The first law of the teacher is to know the material, which takes time and energy. If you want to fail as a homeschooler, model NOT learning. Model NOT reading, model intellectual apathy, fed on a diet of social media, low standards, and cultivated disinterest.
2- Be Prideful about your Kid’s Success and Ability
Be haughty and prideful when it comes to your own child. They already know it all, why learn more? Your child is “too good” for every program out there. Also, refuse to let your child mingle with children you deem “less-than.” This not only sets them up to fail in homeschooling but also in life.
3- Never Ask Questions
Cultivate the attitude of disinterest; what you don’t know is boring. Asking questions requires vulnerability and humility. Don’t show either.
3-Be Stingy & Hoard
Opportunities, people, competitions, curriculum, knowledge; you need to keep whatever good thing you have to yourself. Don’t share, promote, develop, or go beyond your circle. Keep in mind the toddler rules, “What’s Yours is Yours and What’s Mine is Mine, What’s Broken is Yours.”
4- Be Fearful
Homeschool because the world is scary, and public schools are of the devil. Be reactive. Be closeted and fearful. Homeschool because there is nothing better. Hunker down for the coming of apocalypse zombies.
5- Be Lazy
Have the attitude that no matter what you do or don’t do as a homeschooler, it is better than what the public schools do or don’t do. So if you really don’t “do” school or even train your kids, that’s okay. At least it’s better than what the public schools are doing, anyway, right?
(Trying to figure out how to succeed at this homeschooling gig as a Busy Mom, check out our post on Sacred Sanity – A Busy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling.)
6- Be Tolerant
Let your kids run wild in the name of homeschooling freedom. Allow them to break the rules, to be rebellious, to set a low standard for others at classes, co-ops, field trips, to subtly jeer and undermine. This tolerance gives the impression that all homeschoolers have low standards and ensures that no homeschoolers will be allowed that field trip in the future. It also provides that any homework assigned will be mocked, that work itself is not that important, and that co-ops should cater to the lowest common denominator.
Make excuses; make them often and frequently, for yourself and your kids, regarding academic standards, character issues, things left undone, and overdone. Don’t take responsibility to educate your kids.
8- Be Idolatrous
Idolize your child, and their individuality to the point of extreme. Idolize creativity while sacrificing discipline. Buy into the cheap imitation of chaos theory that free expression without tools, time, or discipline will produce creative talent beyond our wildest dreams. In keeping with this, teach to your kid’s strengths (if you teach at all) and let their weaknesses go unchecked.
I’m sure that there are other ways to fail as a homeschooler, but these are the ones I’ve personally most often encountered over the years. And, True Confessions, My name is Lisa, and I’m a Homeschooling Failure myself, having participated in all of these at one time or another. Admission, so those in the know tell me, is the first step towards recovery. Good thing, because next, in honor of those in recovery as Homeschooling Failures, I’ll post How to Succeed as a Homeschooler.
(Have you decided that you’re ready to begin? Check out our post on Homeschooling 101!)
Everyone decides to homeschool for different reasons, but I want to share with you our top three reasons to homeschool.
Our homeschooling story began in 1991 way back in Southern California. We have continued to homeschool across the country, with numerous children (most of whom have now graduated) for the following reasons:
(Still unsure about homeschooling? Check out Should I Homeschool?)
Reason #1 – Education
Our kids are getting a solid education. Is it perfect? No. Are there gaps? Yes. Is that normal? I think so. Do we continue to hone and improve what we do? Yes.
Educating our kids at home has streamlined the academic process for the simple reason that there are fewer people to manage, no classes to change or halls and lockers to navigate, and no worksheets to slow us down. We learn the lesson; we move on. This pace has given our kids plenty of time to do things like scouts, sports, travel, read voraciously, study art, plant gardens, create things, help us re-build an acreage, serve others, write novels, participate in horseback riding, karate, and soccer, and pursue so many other interests.
Reason #2 – Faith
Homeschooling allows your kids to have time to refine, define, and own their faith.
Of course, it doesn’t take homeschooling to allow kids to own their faith, but it does allow them time to own it before the world and peers, and a whole host of other voices, come along to batter and beat it into something almost, but possibly, not quite Christian. Our kids leave our home with a solid understanding of the Bible, including its history, language and culture, the history of the church, the importance and personhood of Jesus, and a glimpse at how imperfect people attempt to live a life of vibrant faith.
Is it perfect? No. Do we fail? Yes. Is that normal? I know so.
Kids grow up and decide and determine what values they’ll follow, what memories they’ll treasure, and which they discard. The voices of the world are loud and noisy, and there is no guarantee that any of our kids will grow up to follow much of anything they’ve been raised with. The whole idea that if we raise our kids a certain way, it will guarantee specific values and lifestyle in our kids is idolatry, pure and simple.
We get to follow God and be faithful to what He has called us to do. Our kids also have that choice- to hear and obey, or not. Twenty-eight years into this stint of homeschooling has taught me some hard lessons, and one of the most challenging has been to realize that everyone works out their own salvation with fear and trembling. We don’t get to take our kids, or our spouses, or anyone else to heaven — just us. But we can sure do our part on behalf of others, including our kids.
That being said, raising our kids with an understanding of the Bible, history, literature, critical thinking skills, and a knowledge of Faith is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. What they do with that gift is up to them.
Reason #3 – Family
It’s a busy world. Homeschooling has allowed us to spend hours together, playing, reading, learning, building, re-modeling, cooking, gardening, arguing, and laughing together. The good side of that is that everybody knows each other. The downside of this is that everybody knows each other.
Is it perfect? No. Do we get on each other’s nerves? You betcha’.
But really, how many people do you ever get to know well in life? Precious few. Add in social media and life online, and it’s no wonder that people are, literally, getting lonelier. Homeschooling has given our family time to sit around the fire watching fireflies and the Milky Way, discuss great books, history, literature, and ideas for hours. We can travel, sightsee, and fall in love with God’s world and each other. Quality time almost always demands quantity time. Our family has been blessed with plenty of both, and it has enriched each of our lives.
What are your top 3 reasons for homeschooling? Are they the same as when you first started or have they changed?
(Just now deciding to take the homeschooling plunge? Check out our post on Homeschooling 101.)
Manage My Home and Time?
Manage My Home and Time? Them’s fightin’ words, aren’t they? Though they may be, it’s important as working homeschooling mamas that we get a routine set in place so that we aren’t wondering if the insurance money is really worth it or before we decide to put them on the big yellow bus that rides by our house every morning!
Here are some things that you can do to make it easier to manage your home and time:
- Use a curriculum that teaches all of your kids at once—there are some out there that will teach them all the same thing, but on a different level, which minimizes your prep time and allows you to put that time to better use.
- Use visual and written checklists—put your kids in charge of their progress, giving them something to work towards.
- Get a solid meal prep routine—even if you start with family favorites, having meals prepped and ready to cook at a moment’s notice will definitely help.
- Take a break to catch your breath when needed—if chaos seems to be coming through the air vents at every turn, then you might need to catch yourself. BURNOUT IS REAL!
- Toss out your plans and let the kids lead—there will be times when what the kids want to do will outweigh the pros of our well-oiled plan. Child or interest-led learning works, too!
So, how is all of this going to help me manage my home and time?
Even using ONE of these will give you one less thing to do on a given day. The more that you have in place, the more you can breathe, and your home will run more smoothly.
The key to making all of this work is to encourage your kids to be as independent as possible. Make it to where they don’t have to come to you every second while you’re working! You know how it goes…they don’t need anything at ALL until you sit down and start to work, throwing you into a Mom Tantrum. Sit down with them and let them know that you aren’t to be disturbed when you’re working unless it’s an emergency and don’t be afraid to ask a friend, family member, or fellow homeschool mom for help!
If at all possible, teach your kids to help each other! Their methods may not be the same as yours; however, if they get the concept, just smile, shake your head, and walk away. Who cares if they are using a stuffed alligator and Oreos to help teach greater than and less than!
Another thing—know that outsourcing doesn’t make you a bad parent! If there is a co-op, tutorial, or drop-in program in your area that has what you need, USE IT! There are programs out there that don’t require that moms teach a class in order to stay involved.
Lastly, if you have little ones, consider working in a place where they can play while you work. A mom I know packs her kids up and takes them to Burger King, where they have a play place for the kids on those days when she REALLY needs to focus. Where can you go?
(If you like this post, be sure to check out Sacred Sanity, A Busy Mom’s Guide to Survival.)
Blog Contributor Tammie Polk
Tammie Polk is a Mompreneur on a Mission! She is a married, homeschooling mother of three girls ages 15, 10, and 5 from Memphis, Tennessee. When she’s not pouring into her girls, you can find her writing, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games! Her major claim to fame is being the author of over 30 books on life, faith, family, and business- all of which were written in the last three years. Tammie is also a business coach, homeschool consultant, motivational and inspirational speaker, and international radio show host! To find out more about Tammie, please visit her website.
Sacred Sanity – A Busy Mom’s Guide to Survival
If you are reading this, I will assume you are like me…A momma trying to figure it all out, a busy mom. A mom wanting to rip the capital “S” off your chest, so you can just BE. Amongst all of the to-do lists and responsibilities, you just want peace and sanity. I’m sure you have lessons to plan and teach, meetings to attend, errands to run, meals to cook, date night, gym time, Dr.’s appointments, cuddles to give, blogs to write, reports to finish, bathrooms to clean…The list could go on for days! It’s exhausting reading it all!
I get it! As we speak, I am multi-tasking. Armed with my noise-canceling headphones, I attempt to write this blog uninterrupted. Unrealistic, I know. I still can hear the whines of my daughter; I get asked for a snack 100 times and have to break up fights. Saturdays are supposed to be a day off. For me, Saturday is MY business/studying workday. The problem, however, is my other responsibilities don’t cease. So, how do I manage? How do I find balance between all on my growing lists? How do I keep my sanity sacred, so I don’t burn out and yell at everyone due to my stress? These are on-going questions running through my mind on a daily basis. And I’m sure you too in moments of silence have similar questions.
After a season of extreme burnout and anxiety, I embarked on a journey to figure out how to homeschool, grow my business, and manage my home without losing my sanity.
Here is what I have discovered to keep my sanity:
- My Sanity is Sacred: If I am not at peace and in a healthy place mentally, emotionally, or physically…everyone suffers. If we put ourselves 1st and fill our cups intentionally every day, we can pour out to our jobs, businesses, children, spouses, and homes from an overflow. Then, we will not be empty by days end. So, find your source(s) and fill up.
- I MUST Ask or Pay for Help: I let go of the idea that it is only my responsibility to manage everything in my home. It is just not possible; Not every day. I made room in my budget for someone to come clean my main living area and bathrooms. I also increased the kids cleaning responsibilities. Doing so made room and time for more creativity in my lessons and also my business plans. Why? Because for many of us, cleanliness=clarity & creativity. Putting my oldest two boys in a drop-off Tutorial that meets 2x’s per week gave me some much needed time for quiet, cleaning, work, or even to shop.
- Take Deep Breaths: Oftentimes, we go through each day shallow breathing. I recently began implementing several “breath breaks.” Every hour or so, I take at least three deep breaths. It is amazing how this simple act can bring calm, clarity, and gratitude. Slowing down in this way can give us perspective and guide us appropriately through our daily decisions, whether career-related or personal.
- Set specific priorities: For me, home comes first, then business and career goals. I prioritize my goals within each of those categories and focus on 3-5 at a time; per season. For me, my capacity is limited, and I am ok with that. With a small list, I can operate at a level of excellence without feeling overwhelmed or burned out.
- Stay in my Lane: I do my best not to compare. This requires I frequently disconnect from social media. Comparison oftentimes keeps us “grinding” to the point of severe burnout and exhaustion. Find your flow and operate in it. Don’t worry about how much everyone else can get done in a day with ten kids on their hip. That may be great for them, but detrimental to you and your family. Every family has a natural flow or rhythm that leaves room for everyone to thrive. Figure out what works and stay there.
While this is my personal list for keeping my sanity sacred as a busy mom, I hope you can glean some helpful nuggets to implement so you can grow successfully both at home and professionally.
(If you like this post you may also like our post on homeschool mom encouragement.)
Ashley Gilbert is a Certified Life and Recovery Coach and the founder of I Can. She is passionate about creating dynamic classroom and one-on-one coaching experiences to promote self-awareness, freedom, and empowerment for women. Her unique twist on dance and movement classes help women walk in confidence and self-love…beyond the dance floor. Ashley and her husband are also co-founders of Ground Zero, where she serves as a women’s addiction Recovery Coach. Most recently, she authored a book called “Real Women on the Journey.” With all she does professionally, Ashley’s first priority, however, is to her family. Being best friend and wifey to her husband of 12 years, and homeschooling her three amazing children.
“The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Mother’s Day is coming right up! Below is a crazy quilt collection of amazing Mommas who lived, worked and raised children in the last couple hundred years of societal and technological change. It is by no means definitive and reflects my own reading and areas of interest. But if you are looking for some inspiring Mommas to read about and learn from, this is a good basic list to get you started.
The longest reigning British monarch and the longest reigning female in history, beloved wife of Albert and mother of 9. She is called “The Grandmother of Europe.” The Young Victoria and Victoria & Albert are both delightful movies about an intriguing monarch who did not give up motherhood, despite her position as a world leader.
The original Cheaper by the Dozen Momma. Along with her husband Frank, she co-founded the Cognitive Psych program at Purdue University, author, efficiency expert, and mother of 12, all of whom went to Ivy Leagues. She combined engineering, psychology, and motherhood and was the first American engineer to synthesize scientific management and psychology. You’ll laugh out loud reading Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes. The 1950’s film version of the books is also delightful!
Ruth Bell Graham
Missionary, author, wife, a vital component of Billy Graham’s evangelistic ministry, mother of 5. Her headstone reads, in Chinese “Righteous” (her parents were missionaries with the China Inland Mission, where she spent her childhood). To add to your reading list: “Ruth, A Portrait.”
Wife of a governor, CIA Director and president, mother of a president, mother of 2 U.S. Governors, literacy advocate, Momma of six and witty author, Barbara Bush saw a lot of the world. George W was asked once what arguments with his mother were like. He replied, “You don’t argue with Barbara.” Check out “Barbara Bush, A Memoir.”
Her life as a Mom was difficult and challenging; isn’t everyone’s, at some point or another? She did the best for her son, despite great personal sacrifice and went on to legitimize the murder mystery genre through her Lord Peter Wimsey book series, which is you haven’t read, you must. Start with “Clouds of Witness.” As as a way of introduction to Dorothy’s deep faith and great intellect, read “The Gospel in Dorothy Sayers.”
Born into slavery, she escaped at age 27 and over the course of her life, helped lead over 70 others to freedom. She became a spy for the Union army and helped free over 700 slaves during a raid. She and her husband adopted a baby girl name, “Gertie.” Check out the book, Harriet Tubman, Imagining a Life by Lowry and the T.V. mini-series, “A Woman Called Moses.”
Not only the first women to win a noble prize, she is one of the few people to win two Noble Peace Prizes in her lifetime (the first of which she shared with her husband) for her groundbreaking work in Chemistry (903, 1911) After her husband’s untimely death, she continued her work in Science while raising her two daughters. Her daughter, Irene, went on to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with her husband, as well! Check out the movie: Marie Curie: Courage of Knowledge and the Book, Radioactive: A Book of love and fallout by Redniss.
I’ve love to hear who your favorite Mom is- besides your own, of course!
Mother’s Day is coming up and I’ve partnered together with a great group of bloggers to bless some moms BIG TIME this Mother’s Day! We are giving away FOUR Instant Pots! Instant Pots are quick, convenient, and help to make meal preparation so much easier; every mom or homemaker should have one. So if you are wanting to win one for yourself (or for a mother that you know would love one), use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
Now I know that the Rafflecopter has quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers generously chipped in their own money to bring you this giveaway, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!
Giveaway ends May 10th at 11:59pm EDT. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to email to claim prize. By entering this giveaway you will be added to the email lists of some of the participating bloggers (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).
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