Warning: This is a post about home schooling. If you do not home school, nor have any interest in home schooling, please move on because I will probably bore you to tears!
Another warning: My mind is running in 10 different directions at moment on this subject. I apologize ahead of time for any incoherence!
It is that time again. Time to start planning for the upcoming school year...and I am floundering!
Here is what people on the outside see and say: "Wow! She really must have her act together. I can't imagine juggling 7 kids and home schooling them too! And they are all so smart and accomplished and polite. I don't know how she does it!"
Here is what I think on the inside: "I am a miserable failure. Yes, my kids are smart, but I should have done so much MORE! They are fine by the world's standards, but I should have pushed harder, been more disciplined. If I had been more pushy and not allowed them to be so self-directed they would have more accomplishments by now. They could be fluent in a foreign language or studying nuclear physics by now or playing an instrument at Carnegie Hall. The older ones got all my attention and zeal because I was younger and excited when I started to home school them. The middle ones have fallen through the cracks. I can't believe that I have compromised all my ideals and haven fallen back on boxed curriculum for my older kids so that I can get it all done. If I was more self-disciplined we could be doing more creative stuff."
Here is what people on the outside say: "You've been doing this for 13 years? You must have a lot of experience and wisdom. You probably know exactly how to do it all now."
Here is what I think on the inside: "I have NO IDEA what I should be doing this year with my 5th grader!! I want her to be more excited about learning. During her beginning school year I was pregnant and miserable. Then I got distracted trying to figure out the whole high school thing with her older siblings. Her last year was a big mess. She is so bright in all areas and even natural to math and yet she says she hates math! ARGH! I don't want her to think learning is a drudge...something to get out of the way so she can move on to what she enjoys. And my 7th grader...I certainly have not spent enough time with him. He is definitely the neglected middle kid. It isn't fair! And what about my 4 1/2 year old? She is so bright and eager. It doesn't seem fair to hold her back when she is so ready to learn, but really, I had not planned on starting her until after her oldest brother graduated this coming year."
Honestly, I was more self-assured in the beginning than I am now. I guess there is something to be said for being young and foolish and believing you have all the answers. With maturity and wisdom comes the realization that I do NOT have all the answers, that there is not just one way to do it, that I should not look down my nose at folks who use a "boxed curriculum," that what worked great for one child may be a total flop with the next.
When all those nagging doubts plague me, this is what I have to tell myself:
~My children are people. Yes, people. They are not empty boxes to be filled. They have unique personalities, abilities and needs.
~It is not necessary for me or my children to meet other people's standards. We must do our best to follow God's plan for ourfamily. NEVER compare ourselves to others.
~My children are happy and content with who they are. Most of their accomplishments are their own...they pursued their own interests and were not pushed by some over zealous parent who needed to be fulfilled by having a child prodigy to brag about.
~My children have had the good fortune to be allowed to be children. They have not been pushed by the media, pop culture, or peers into dealing with adult issues before they are old enough.
~My children can relate to and converse with anyone of any age. They do not require that someone be within 12 months of their own age to be able to communicate. They can talk to folks decades older and younger than they are. They do not look at adults as if we are aliens and they do not treat younger folk with disdain.
~My children know that in our home, relationships with God other people come first.
~My older kids all know the satisfaction of hard work and earning their own money. They also know that money and possessions will not bring happiness.
~My kids may not know everything, but if they are interested in something, they know HOW to pursue it and learn more about it.
Well, I guess I am not such a failure after all!