Lately, I’ve been really struggling with my idea of homeschool vs. my reality of homeschool. I go through this periodically as I try to envision what I want our homeschool to look like and build that vision into a working reality. The best-laid plans don’t always prove to be successful. But in all of my years struggling with my idea vs. my reality I have never quite been able to accept the disappointment with grace.
You see, in my head, our homeschool is very much TV perfect. Ok, honestly, my life has always been more like a sitcom. But however many outrageous ordeals we might go through, in the end, we are supposed to sum things up with rainbows and unicorns. I know it sounds ridiculous. I feel ridiculous typing this. I can’t help it. That is what I expect.
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Alright, let me paint you the real picture of what I expect… It’s not really so ridiculous an expectation once you hear it.
- I expect that I am taking great amounts of my time and energy to research, plan, and execute these amazing opportunities for learning different and interesting things for the kids like science classes about the stars and living history experiences at the local historic homestead. And for this time and energy I put in, the kids should appreciate these opportunities by happily (or at the minimum willingly) participating in the class/activities instead of hiding under the chair or crawling across the table or grumpily glaring up at me.
- I expect that I spend enormous amounts of time and money researching, looking at and buying curriculum and other educational products for our home learning opportunities like math and language arts programs that fit each kids’ needs, abilities, and learning style. And for that time and money, the kids should get through the minimally assigned work in a reasonable amount of time without moans and groans about How. Much. Work. they have to do or without every little thing distracting them. (For the record here: I plan a maximum of about 2 hours a day of work. That’s on a really busy day.)
- I expect that I carefully choose books that are interesting and engaging, and devote sometimes HOURS of my night to reading to the kids. And I would love if reading time was this beautiful moment when we are all snuggled under a cozy blanket together, listening and engaging in epic stories of fantasy, history, and wonder. No one fighting because they didn’t get to sit on my right side. No one stopping me after every sentence (or word) to ask random questions or tell me random stories that have nothing to do with the story.
- I expect that I drive out to a variety of different places, pay admission, and spend the day so the kids can visit a variety of different museums and zoos and other places of education. Shouldn’t the kids come out of that place at least knowing *something* they didn’t know going in? Why are we racing from the front door to the exit moving from one exhibit to the next in record time without ever actually *seeing* any of it?
I mean… really. Am I expecting too much?
I know we have bad days. Not everything we do is going to be everyone’s favorite thing. But I think why I feel so disappointed is because I feel like EVERY day is just a test to my ideal situation. Like, I need one win to make the hundred fails not feel so bad.
There are a lot of things that really don’t help, but the biggest culprit is me playing the comparison game.
My Kids vs. Everyone Else’s Kids
When we go to classes and things I pay attention to how the other kids are sitting, raising their hands, and answering. My kids are the ones climbing across the picnic tables and meowing. I know those kids have their off days too, but my kids are ALWAYS the ones climbing across the picnic tables and meowing. I know my kids (especially the Boy) have a hard time sitting still and often feel shy, but I also know that they are distracting to the other kids and disrespectful to the instructor.
Social media is a huge source of comparing disappointment. I see Facebook pictures of friends’ kids all sitting around the table really involved in some cool science experiment. I oooh and ahh over Instagram pictures of kids out in the world exploring with giant smiles, doing something extraordinary. I know that those pictures are small moments in time and that we rarely share our chaos when the kids are having a meltdown because they have to do math. I stage those pictures myself. Perhaps that’s my disappointment. I *stage* those pictures instead of finding those moments candidly.
And of course, there is just my own head convincing me that everyone else’s kids are these perfect little angels while mine are evil incarnate setting out to destroy any dreams I may have of a beautiful and peaceful life. Ok. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but some days I really do wonder if their end game is to make me crazy.
I like to sum up my posts with thoughts on what I think might make things better, but honestly, I am at a loss. I think ultimately, our “idea” of how things should be vs. our reality boils down to an emotional vs. logical reaction.
Emotionally, I feel disappointed that our homeschool isn’t rainbows and unicorns. I am angry at myself that I have failed the kids somehow in fostering a love of learning. I am sad that my kids aren’t fully appreciating this amazing opportunity they have. I am depressed because I don’t know how or even if I can fix things for the better.
Logically, I know that life isn’t TV-perfect. We have more than a 30 minute or hour to live our life, and things don’t always get summed up nice and neat in the end. I can rationalize that kids will pay attention to things they are interested in and they just aren’t interested in everything. It makes perfect sense to me that my kids are active little balls of energy and sitting to listen to someone teach them about beavers or reading every plaque at the museum can be too much for all of the synapses going off in those brains.
So where do I go from here? I guess in the end I have to reconcile my emotions with my logic and accept that they are not always (or perhaps never) on the same page. I absolutely HAVE to stop comparing because no matter what. My kids are their own unique individuals, our family is its own unique identity, and well, let’s face it… I am not exactly your mainstream Bedford wife kinda gal. And beyond that I just have to deal with my own negative emotions, and try to find the positive ones.