Homeschooling – What to Do When Your Expectations Disappoint
Broken in books. Scattered pencils. Notebooks everywhere and the schedule is . . . not working. Each day, someone gets further behind and the school year’s probably going to take two years instead of one. My heart races and sweat beads my upper lip, but I push the kids forward while my panic swells and their frustration grows. This is a reality I’ve lived and I’m not alone.
I’ve learned to approach each school year with a plan in place, but to hold it loosely. I learn reliance on God, trust in him, and a steadfast heart. Homeschooling is rewarding, but filled with challenges.
Don’t lose heart, dear mama, when your carefully planned school year explodes in your face. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that there’s something wrong with you, your kids, or your curriculum. It means that God is holding you close to his heart and saying, “Hang on! Let’s go for a ride.”
It might mean that sitting at a desk for every subject might not be the best place for your child. It might mean that laying on the floor is better or hanging upside down from the chair is how today’s learning will go.
Sometimes those “exploding” school years reveal something about us or our children that we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. It could be a learning style that is different than ours. Sometimes it reveals a character trait that needs pruning or cultivating. Kids are masters at manipulation and we’re masters at exasperating our children.
One year I discovered that my eldest and I were on a cycle of her crying and me yelling. In order to break the cycle, we both made conscious decisions to change our responses. Once we recognized that we both needed to change, our school time went better and the cycle was broken.
If things blow up, adjust and move forward. Sell curriculum that doesn’t work and try something new. It’s okay to make changes mid-year. Even in high school when everything “counts.”
I changed my 9th grader’s history in the middle of a school year. I took away the workbook and replaced it with living books requiring weekly five-paragraph papers on a topic from her history reading assignments. She learned more, she retained more, and she began to enjoy history again.
At the time, the changes felt like another failure, but in the end those changes accomplished my real goal: instilling a love of learning in her heart. God is good. I might think I know best, but God knows and sees the heart of not just me, but each one of my kids.
Changing our methods doesn’t mean we’re wrong or our kids are wrong. It means that we’ve just found a new way of how not to do school for the year. Changes simply indicate a new season.
Our expectations may not be God’s plan for our school year. We need to begin each year with low expectations in our plans and high expectation in our God. It’s our expectations that disappoint us, not Him.
Your school year has begun and I hope it’s going well, but if it’s not, please don’t despair. Turn to God and seek his face for wisdom. Maybe it’s a child attempting to manipulate you or maybe it’s God nudging you for a change.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your steps.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
As we move forward with our plans for our homeschooling year, let us hold loosely to our understanding and tightly to yours. Show us the next steps to take: whether we need to persevere with what we planned or make some changes. Go before us and guide us. Comfort us in our distress and be our strength in our weakness. Thank-you for the privilege of teaching the children you’ve blessed us with.
In Jesus’ name,
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