In a homeschool community you would think I could find more encouragement than discouragement, but more often than not I’m finding more blog articles about how we aren’t measuring up. Yet in the Washington Times I find encouragement from the statistics of how many public school teachers are opting to have their own children pulled from the very system they teach in.
Since moving to Southern California, I have met a few public school teachers who commend me for homeschooling my children. Their words of advice for me,
“Do not put your kids in our public schools.”
I dislike the idea of revealing the sad news of discouragement I find in a community I’m very much a part of. I would like to be proud of being a part of the homeschool community. I am proud to a point, but we aren’t a perfect community. Since every homeschool contains very unique children and very different types of learning styles then I think it’s only fair to admit that we have the same short comings that a public school teacher has. We, the teachers of homeschooled children, are just as fallible as public school teachers. It is ridiculous for us to attempt to portray ourselves as better than the other teachers.
Public school teachers have a lot they need to navigate through with unruly kids, limited ways of disciplining children, and an extreme lack of parental volunteers. Homeschool teachers (parents) may have to be the teacher, yard duty monitor, P.E. teacher, lunch lady, school nurse, etc, but at least their class size is much smaller. There are pros and cons to both types of school.
I’ve had plenty of my own days of wondering, “why in the world am I doing this?“
There’s plenty to be discouraged about, but I find that my focus turns toward condemnation of the outward appearance of things. While there are drawbacks to homeschooling, there are plenty of rewarding reasons to keep moving forward.
Just as I encourage my children that their worth is not in how many answers they memorize, my worth is not in how many answers they get right on a test. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if they aren’t ‘getting it’ by their next birthday. I’m not the kind of teacher that measures my success by a cookie cutter approach to doing school. Since we don’t ascribe to a cookie cutter approach to learning then why do we find ourselves in a rut of discouragement about ourselves as teachers?
There are many really good pro-homeschooling articles out there and more encouragement than there is discouragement. So when we see the discouraging articles then feel free to delete that article from your memory. Every day of teaching our children can be faced with awe and excitement as long as we aren’t allowing ourselves to get caught up in the rat race of ‘who is the best homeschooling mom’. The women who seem to have it all together at every single turn in life aren’t being honest with us, they just don’t want us to know they have chaos. A homeschooling blog that seems to be practically perfect in every way is misleading. I’d much rather see a homeschool mom blogger tell us what chaos she lives in and how she makes it through so we can be inspired in the midst of our own mess.
This is what Jesus does. He reaches into our perfectly messy lives and shines the light of inspiration to show us how to live our lives with joy. If there weren’t dark days of homeschooling, how would we come to appreciate the Light? It’s ok to share with other homeschool moms that you wrestle with your Math program. In fact, I did just that the other day. I gulped down my pride to admit to my friends that I struggled with it. In doing so I discovered a new way of looking at exponents that I would not have seen if I had not shared how frustrated I was. By confessing my frustration, I was free to find a new path to understanding.
Did you catch the keyword there?
When we hide behind our own ‘image of perfection’ we miss out on finding the glory in others who can offer help to build us up. When we find others who offer help, we find help for our kids. When we are free, the kids can be free.
It’s ok to admit that we get discouraged. It’s ok to admit there are discouraging pockets in our community. When we do so we can find others who have a heart to lift us up and offer grace.
Here are 10 helps I consider when I’m feeling discouraged and overwhelmed in my homeschooling.
1. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. I’ll do this as many times as needed to remain steady.
2. I remind myself that no teacher in the world is perfect.
3. I reflect upon God’s grace and put my faith in his love for me and the children.
4. I open my mind and heart to reaching out for help by ditching pride.
5. I remind my children of God’s grace too and that if I don’t know the answer, then we’ll find it together.
6. I humorously tell myself out loud, “I is kiiind, I is smaaart, I is important” (ok you’d have to watch ‘The Help’ to understand that one.)
7. I tell myself that I’m not alone. Even though others make their homeschool sound perfect, I know better.
8. I commit myself to finding solutions (YouTube is awesome).
9. I recite ten things about homeschooling that I’m thankful for. For every 1 complaint, find 10 things to express gratitude for.
10. Hug my children and affirm my love for them.
My identity as a homeschooling mom is not found by some old world measuring system. My identity is found by acknowledging my new fashioned Spirit rooted in grace.