With my youngest child approaching her final year of homeschooling, I find myself once again reflecting on my thoughts, attitudes, ideas and approaches of the past 20+ years of homeschooling, writing letters to my younger self. I hope that these letters will also be an encouragement to you in your homeschooling journey. So, picking up from where I last left off, here’s the next letter in my “Letter To My Younger Self” series –
Letter 22 ~ Striving
Dear younger Nadene,
Striving is defined as “an attempt, to compete, to contend, an endeavour, to exert, to fight, to struggle and toil and try.”
Who would want any of this in your homeschooling? Striving is exhausting and a very debilitating approach to homeschooling, parenting and life in general.
When you started your homeschooling, you had an idealistic school-at-home approach and you worked strictly according to the schedule and tried to meet other people’s standards. This approach put unnecessary pressure on you and you inevitably ended up desperate and stressed.
Your own personal attempts to do-it-all and “get it right” caused you sleepless nights and butterflies in your stomach when things were new, or different, or when things were not meeting your expectations. Your massive focus and grand efforts may have given you some success, but your striving negatively affected your children. They picked up your stress like they picked up chickenpox! This invisible tension oppressed your home and their learning.
You will know when you are striving — it will look like busyness and stress, sound like shouting & yelling. It will be cajoling, urging, insisting, forcing, punishing, withdrawing, manipulating, dominating … or simply doing it in a life-draining way.
Let me encourage you to let go of your ideals, lower your expectations and work according to your family’s own rhythm and lifestyle. Most importantly, let go of the timetable on the schedule and use it as your guideline or even as just a suggestion. Add more time to your schedule — 6 months more time at least!
You will never fall behind! Not ever! Not even when your kids miss a couple of days every week, or are sick, or when you go travelling around the country for 18 months. Not even when your highschooler drops subjects or gives up a curriculum halfway through her Grade 10 course. You will not even fall behind when you start a new family business and your days are interrupted dozens of times. Relax, darling. It will all work out in the end.
If you feel helpless, afraid or stressed about a child, or a curriculum, or a disciplinary or character issue, step back and press pause and be curious. Be compassionate. Ask yourself and the Lord. “What is the most loving way we can do this?” and then be still and listen to the still, small voice in your heart. Follow your heart. Please follow your heart.
Be kind to yourself and extend grace to yourself. You will figure this out and you will eventually have lovely days of happy homeschooling. It will turn out fine, trust me.
With gracious, compassionate love from your older self, Love Nadene
I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic! Please, would you share yours in the comments?
In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:
- 1 Learning Not School
- 2 Ideals and Compromise
- 3 Unique Individuals
- 4 Toddlers
- 5 Let Be
- 6 Husband
- 7 Action
- 8 Friends
- 9 Wait
- 10 Come to Pass
- 11 Teens
- 12 Casual Classical Music
- 13 Dare to be Different
- 14 Send Homeschooler To School?
- 15 On Track
- 16 Don’t kill it!
- 17 Perfectionism
- 18 Memories
- 19 Have Fun!
- 20 Trust God
- 21 Time