I guess today was just one of those days, or maybe this week was just one of those weeks. The kids have had colds for what feels like months now. I think the weather is what’s causing us problems: 30 degrees one day, 70 the next. Anyway, because of all of the sniffling, coughing, puking… blech… school work has been pretty low on our priority list. I have pretty much let all school go so long as the Princess has done the bare minimum of Language Arts and Math. If I were a great Mom I would probably have been spending all of that extra time snuggling sick kids, because that is way more useful of my time. Alas, I have been taking advantage of the kids’ lethargy to put on the TV for them and then spend my time trying to catch up on the house cleaning.
Today I woke up feeling very much like a failure. I took a look around and the house (for all of my cleaning) is a complete and utter pigsty. The kids just spent 3 hours this morning playing playstation, watching TV, and checking in on their Kindle games. (Of course they’re not reading on the Kindle because that would be too much like… not playing.) I’m not sure when the last time I bathed the kids… hell, I can’t remember the last time I bathed me. I’m pretty sure the kids had bubble gum and fruit snacks for breakfast and cheeto puffs and koolaid for lunch. And school? Yeah right. We are so far behind my plan that I can’t even fathom where to begin to catch up.
I’m a failure at this whole homeschool thing.
To be fair, I’m kinda a failure at everything lately.
My blog? Well, there’s nothing. My homestead? I don’t know if my chickens even know me anymore and my garden got as far as clearing out the boxes and then a big fat nothing.
I guess the truth is, I feel like this a lot. Like I’m failing. Some days, like today, it’s hard to look around me and see a great amount of accomplishment. And I can handle being a personal failure, but I really hate that I am failing my kids. And today I woke up feeling it more than other days. So now what?
Well, of course I text my friend Kristie to tell her I’m bailing on all of my commitments to become the Super Homeschool Mom I am supposed to be! I will have a schedule that we will all adhere to with great diligence. I will cover every subject, every day and leave no educational stone unturned. I will be home with the kids instead of always, always, always in the car so I will easily find time to clean and prepare masterfully planned meals.
My new plan was in line with the Charlotte Mason approach. (You can read about this awesome educational philosophy here.)
After Kristie stopped laughing at me… She reminded me of some things.
- My kids are still really young. The Princess is really the only one even of school age and she’s already a grade and a half above level.
- We ALL have those days, moments, seconds where we feel like we are completely and utterly failing our kids whether we homeschool or not, but we all pick up our bootstraps and move on and somehow our kids usually turn out ok.
- I may not give the kids all of the education that I hope and dream and just plain expect of them, but we all continue learning every day and what they don’t get over the next 8-12 years, they still have a lifetime to learn.
- Finally, she reminded me that this just isn’t me.
Yeah… I’m just not the hardcore scheduling type. I’m far too laid back about life in general to become some kind of homeschool Nazi. I admire those moms that are, but it’s just not me. And if I’m not true to myself then I’m not really able to be a successful homeschooler. Plus, one of the many things I love about homeschooling is that we can learn any time, any day, any way. So what if we’re behind? Sometimes we get way ahead, sometimes we get way behind. In all, we’re probably right where we’re supposed to be.
I can’t say that it surprises me any, but I find that a lot of us homeschooling parents struggle with this failure that I am currently suffering from. I think one of the biggest contributors to this struggle is that no matter how far we get into homeschooling we are all too often still caught in this idea of “grade level” and we still define our kids by that grade level based on age. We can be somewhat lenient about this when our 7 year old still can’t read, but when our 12 year old still isn’t writing well we begin to stress that he/she is almost in high school. The Princess is currently 9 and in 4th grade. Except that she’s doing 6th grade Language arts and 4th grade math and 7th-8th grade writing and 3rd grade science. What grade is she really in? I think one way we can help ourselves and our kids is to stop defining them by their age/grade level, but rather by their ability and interests. Remember that kids truly learn things when they are ready. The 7 year old just learning to read, picks it up so much faster than the 5 year old being forced.
Another thing that is tying us down to our failure is the comparison of what we are supposed to be teaching. A 4th grade student at the local public school would have Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Library, P.E., and Computer. Do I cover all of these? Probably not well. But on the other side to that, my kids get a much more in depth lesson on Art with some art history and hands-on activities, technique studies, and a trip to the art museum. So why am I worried that I haven’t done much science this school year? Instead of spending time each week skimming the surface, we dug deep and now the kids have a much better and more profound understanding (and more importantly interest) in Renoir. And next year we might not do any art, but do some very deep studies in biology instead. Isn’t education more important if the lessons encourage students to enjoy learning, be curious about everything, and know how to study and learn topics from multiple angles and multiple levels? Ultimately, didn’t we remove our kids from the school system so we could give them the education they deserve, not the very basic education they would otherwise get?
Ultimately, to get myself out of the failure rut (and for those of you feeling in that rut too) I think the first step is remembering that we are awesome. If the kids are happy and healthy (as in, not eating only Cheeto Puffs for lunch every day) then we are probably doing a pretty decent job. Once our self esteems are mostly out of the gutter, we need to re-evaluate our homeschool plan. There is absolutely nothing wrong with scrapping your current plan and starting fresh with something new. Most of us that I know do that several times a year anyway. And maybe your new plan can incorporate some of the things you feel like you’re failing on. For us, we actually are going to move to a more Charlotte Mason approach, albeit more laid back to suit my style. Finally, remember the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place. There are probably a lot of reasons for each of us, but I can almost guarantee none of us would say to do exactly what they’re doing in the local public school. So don’t hold yourself (or your kids) to that standard. It’s ok.
One other note… you are not alone. You are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We ALL feel this way at least some of the time, although probably most of the time. So, don’t be afraid or nervous to talk to other homeschool moms and get support and encouragement. We are at our core a community.