Setting Reasonable Expectations Makes Homeschooling Sustainable
I was talking to my friend about her experiences with her oldest son. He’s 5 years old, and she is homeschooling for the first time. Actually, she has been teaching him a lot from the very beginning. For her son, that meant he learned his letters when he was 2 years old! Can you believe it? I could hardly believe it when she was telling me at the time. Everything has been easy for him except handwriting. His memory is practically photographic. He can memorize scripture so easily that she never has a problem with him wanting to do it. But she has a daughter, too. Her daughter is 3 now and still doesn’t know her letters (gasp!). Her memory is not as good as her brother’s and things don’t come as quickly for her. But she is very bright and intelligent. My friend knows that she will have to always keep in mind that her son is advanced and gifted and her daughter is more “normal”, or she will expect too much from her daughter and be frustrated with her. She sees me as a more experienced mom, so I knew she valued my opinion, and I told her she was exactly right. She used the words, “If I don’t keep that in mind, I might be too hard on her.” I told her not to be hard on anybody.
I have been reading what people are saying in some online homeschool groups about teaching math. One lady in particular said that after seeking lots of advice and looking at different curriculum and soul-searching, she came to the conclusion that her daughter’s diagnosis was “urmamaisnuts”! (Can you figure out what that says?) She said that since she found out that other children have similar problems and that some people really do have a hard time learning the math facts, she realized her daughter wasn’t just being lazy. Now that she has stopped stressing about it so much, their school days have been much more pleasant.
I feel so strongly about keeping our expectations reasonable because I have experienced the pain and frustration of having expectations that are too high. When I expect too much from myself, I get frustrated and quit. When I expect too much from my children, I get angry and start yelling. When I expect too much from my husband, I start thinking terrible thoughts about him, and my attitude and behavior toward him are not godly. Whenever someone tells me that they’re frustrated and feel like they’re failing at homeschooling, I almost always see where their expectations are too high. I tell them to relax and set more realistic goals for themselves and for their children. Many people have thanked me for that advice and have been able to continue homeschooling because they eased up and lowered their expectations, and life became more pleasant for the whole family. I truly believe that many people who give up on homeschooling never made these adjustments and if they had, they might have had a completely different experience. When the Lord tells us to do something and it makes us miserable, then we must be doing something wrong. We need to seek Him and find out what His expectations are.
The translation of the daughter’s diagnosis is: Your mama is nuts!