Now that most of us have been toiling away at a brand new year of homeschooling for a few weeks, I’d like to ask you: How’s it going?
If you are anything like me, you diligently waded through the avalanche of homeschooling catalogs last spring. You painstakingly chose your curriculum. You had visions of your home being a haven of academic and domestic bliss. A place where the learning is joyous and teacher is compassionate, wise, creative, and fun.
Am I the only one who consistently harbors these delusional fantasies? Year after year, the impossible dream of finally achieving homeschool Nirvana is firmly fixed in my mind. And year after year, my dreams are shattered into a million tiny shards of colorful hopes that are blown to the winds as reality settles in. This usually occurs within the first month of a new year. Heck, it’s been known to happen within days! Are you there yet? Can any of you relate?
We homeschool moms tend to be an optimistic lot. And let’s be honest; we have to be, or we’d never survive this madness. We cling to the hope that it will somehow get better, get easier, and when it doesn’t, we can quickly get swallowed by feelings of failure and despair. Yet, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of our meticulously crafted plans, our optimism returns. And by springtime, we rise and begin once more pouring over curriculum catalogs, looking for that elusive fix.
This is not a phenomenon reserved for new homeschoolers. I am a 12 year veteran of this scene and I fall prey to this annually. However, this yearly crash and burn does not drag me down into the pits of utter gloom any more. Nor does the frantic search for the ‘right’ curriculum burden me. When the urge to seek out a new curriculum overtakes me, I know that it is really no more than a knee-jerk reaction to a temporary moment of disillusionment. I am no longer enslaved to this roller-coaster cycle because if there is one thing I’ve learned to accept, it is this:
There is no holy grail for homeschooling.
You know what I’m talking about. That mythical curriculum that will work seamlessly with children of all ages, learning styles, and temperaments. A curriculum that will practically teach itself, making you look like an all-wise educational wizard. It will free you up to accomplish so much more with your day, enabling you to keep a house that puts Martha Stewart to shame. Homeschooling could never be easier than with the super-duper mystery method! Heck, it will even help you sleep better, look younger, lose weight, and if you order now, they’ll include a set of Ginsu steak knives! The magical holy grail curriculum will make all of your problems disappear! (Cue hallelujah chorus track.)
Reality is, every year we pray it up and make our choices the best we can. And every year early on it is glaringly apparent that something isn’t working. This is normal. It is merely the adjustment period where we must mesh our fantasies of perfection with the realities of life.
Pregnancies, hungry babies, and destructive, noisy toddlers have a funny way of derailing the best-laid plans. Throw in some different learning styles, varying interests, a dash of learning disabilities or youthful hormones and voila! Utter chaos. And let’s not forget the mountains of laundry, meals to plan and prepare, shopping, chauffeuring, and toilets to clean. Oh yes, and we’re supposed to be the woman of our man’s dreams too, yes?
Maybe optimistic isn’t the right word for us. Mad is more appropriate, don’t you think? Of the stark and raving variety!
Having said all that, I must offer at least a small measure of comfort. While homeschooling doesn’t get easier, it does feel easier after a season. If you are in that stage of life involving very small children, please take a moment to read my encouragement to you here.
No, my friends, there is no holy grail. I have come to see that my hope cannot lie in homeschooling becoming easier. Homeschooling is hard. There’s no getting around that fact. However, the rewards of it are amazing and oh, so worth the effort. My hope lies in raising children of character; young people who love the Lord with all their hearts and are ready to use their unique talents and gifts to make this world a better place in His name. That is my hope for my children. That is why I will continue doing what I do, imperfectly to be sure, year after year after year.
“For what is it we live for, that gives us hope and joy and is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes back again.”
1 Thessalonians 2:19 (Living Bible)