Chances are you’re thinking about your kids’ future and what you need to do to prepare them for it.
Whatever your goal is for your children, it may weigh heavy on you daily. So much so that you forget to show up for the moments. You know, those little moments that make up your homeschool journey?
The truth is, this isn’t just a homeschool thing. This is a mom thing. A parent thing. It’s natural to want the best for our children and to do whatever it takes to secure their future. That’s why we invest so much time, money, and prayers into our homeschool, isn’t it?
But, unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a secure future. Even children raised by the best parents can become adults who completely defy everything their parents worked hard to achieve for their sake. Home education. Private school education. College tuition savings. Children are their own person and have free will just as we do. Sometimes, they can—and will—use that free will to make poor choices, just as we can expect them to use that same free will to make good choices.
I think deep down we know this, which is why we fail to show up for those little moments. We’re too busy desperately searching for clues—proof—that what we’re doing will be worth it in the end. Which is why we lose it when our child still hasn’t grasped long-division or those tricky grammar rules. Good academic performance gives us the instant gratification of feeling like our sacrifice isn’t in vain. We praise our children and we praise ourselves for a job well done. We are convinced that these moments somehow foreshadow our children’s future and our success as their parents.
However, when our children don’t meet our expectations and/or fail to demonstrate that love for learning we all want to foster, their future somehow flashes before our eyes. Suddenly, we fear they may not get admitted into college, build a successful career, or become that groundbreaking businessman or woman.
And then our own future flashes before our eyes. We imagine the judgmental glances from our peers, the whispers behind our backs, the “I told you homeschool was a bad idea” phrases from disapproving family members. We bring that false future into our present life and lose our ever-loving minds over something that hasn’t happened yet—and probably never will.
So, we bring on the punishment, the guilt-trips, the threats, the bribes. Whatever it takes to improve their performance! Silent tears soak through our pillowcases at night, and we’re tempted to give up.
“Maybe it’s a sign,” we say, “A sign we aren’t qualified to homeschool.”
And because we fear this false future we’ve created for our children, some of us give up. The rest of us continue to teach from fear rather than from a place of peace, love, and understanding. In our own twisted minds, we believe that somehow, if we teach from fear, we’re in control. So, we allow fear to keep us from showing up for our homeschool. Instead, we show up for a false future and the idea that it is somehow greater than the journey itself.
What is a false future? It’s where the what-ifs live. What if my kid doesn’t learn enough? What if my kid doesn’t get into college? What if my kid resents me? I think you catch my drift. We think up the worst-case scenarios and live our lives trying to stop them from happening. But the big question is: are we doing what we do for the what-ifs or for the journey? If the answer is yes, we are failing to show up for the beauty that is homeschool.
You may be reading this post and think, this isn’t me. Congratulations, you’ve probably already mastered showing up for your homeschool. But if you’re reading this and it resonates with you, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start showing up!
So, how does one show up for their homeschool?
1. Relinquish control.
This was the very first step I had to take when I made a conscious effort to show up for my homeschool; recognize and accept that I’m not in control—but God is! Author and blogger, Sarah Mackenzie, would call this concept teaching from rest. That is, trusting that God’s got your children’s education and future in His hands—even when you’re a wreck! Even when they’re a wreck! In that, we can guide our children’s education from a loving and trusting place, rather than from anxiety.
2. Change your audience.
The revolutionary question I had to ask myself was:
Who am I trying to impress? God or man?
I like how Mackenzie put it: “Whose ‘well done’ are you working for?” Although she posed this question in her book, Teaching from Rest, this wasn’t the first time this inquiry resonated with me. In fact, this question surfaced several times throughout my homeschool journey. Each time, it humbled me and reminded me that the only opinion that matters is God’s. My children don’t have to be little prodigies. And I certainly don’t have to be Mary Poppins.
3. Embrace failure.
Fear of failure will rob us of teachable moments that can enhance our homeschool journey. Failure isn’t a bad thing. In fact, any successful person will tell you they’ve learned more from their failures than their successes. Failure is a teacher, not a conqueror. When we embrace this truth, we’re more likely to discern what went wrong and how we can improve something, rather than become defeated by setbacks. Even more, we’re more likely to make braver decisions that lead to greater successes because we’re not afraid to fail.
4. Redefine success.
If success is defined by high test scores and perfectly written papers, we’re all in for a huge disappointment. It’s not wrong to want your child to perform well, however, you cannot control how they perform. But do you know what you can control? How you perform. Therefore, let success be determined by how well we demonstrate our love for our children. Did we teach them from a place of patience? Kindness? Gentleness? Joy? Goodness? Peace? Even when things don’t go as expected? Remember, love never fails. It always leads to success! Therefore, there’s a greater chance our children will develop a love for learning if we teach them from a place of love.
5. Reflect often.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I reflect on our past homeschool years, I can’t help but realize how quickly time passes. My boys are no longer the toddler and Kindergartner I started homeschooling nearly four years ago. It makes me happy for the times I showed up and lived in the moment, but sad for the times I didn’t. I don’t view this sadness as a negative thing, but a humble reminder to embrace the moment and show up for my homeschool each and every day.
Read any blog post with the title, “What I Would Do Differently in My Homeschool,” and these veterans will tell you in so many words, they’d embrace the moment and not be so anxious about tomorrow. May we take heed to their words and do our best to show up even for the smallest moments in our homeschool journey.
Well, that’s all I have for now.
Until next time, friends…