When I first began homeschooling 5 years ago, I was a "freak-out homeschool mom" who wanted
to do everything right. So, I did all of the typical things that FOHMs do:
I tried to do public school at home.
I took on too much, researched curriculum constantly, and worried too much about whether or not my daughter was on track.
I also allowed perfectionism to dictate my homeschool day.
It's been said that if a perfectionist can't do it absolutely perfectly, then they won't do it
at all. That was me! I had this picture in my head of how our homeschooling day should go. I pictured mannerly children saying the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to lengthy devotionals with rapt attention. I could see us singing hymns together, reading the Little House Books while snuggled up together on the couch, and my kids cheerfully tracing the alphabet.
What I didn't count on was homeschooling in the midst of continual chaos. Instead of being a chipper and energetic mom with a totally organized homeschool area, I was a tired mama who had been up all night with a fussy baby, was battling post-partum depression, and had 4 kids 5 and under. Instead of having smiling children, I had a toddler who got into the markers and decorated the walls....again. There were diaper blow-outs, cold viruses, stomach bugs, and potty-training accidents. There was screaming, crying, and whining and a strong-willed child who challenged me on everything. My little children often fought while I read aloud.
Even on the better days, if I couldn't do things "in a certain order" I would feel like a failure, even if we had gotten most of our work done. I had a hard time counting our day as a school day if I didn't do everything on my checklist. If life interrupted, which it did frequently, we would forget about doing any school because it couldn't be done perfectly. I was drowning in my life and wondering why homeschooling was so opposite of what I had expected.
However, in order to have "perfect school days" I would have to be a perfect person and my children would have to be flawless. Perfect school days are a figment of the imagination. Let me repeat that for those of you who are new to homeschooling: they don't exist! Perfect school days don't exist in any school, whether public, private, Christian, charter, preschool, etc.
I have had to let go of perfectionism in order to be a successful homeschooler. Over the years, I have learned that you can be consistent (Milk the cow!) without having perfection. I may not always wake up before my kids, be able to start our school day at 9 a.m. sharp, get to everything on our list, or feel energized and alert, but we can still work hard and learn a lot during the day.
Because I have simplified our homeschooling, through Classical Conversations and through learning to say "no" to the good things so that I can say "yes" to the best things, we can accomplish most things on our list each day. I still make goals and strive for great school days. But if I happen to sleep in late, have grumpy kids, or have an unexpected interruption to my day, we roll with it and keep on doing what schoolwork we can do for that day instead of cancelling school. If we don't hit everything on the list, the world doesn't fall apart!
I have a list in my mind of things that are non-negotiables. If we have a really stressful or unpredictable day, we can throw the extras out of the window and just get these basic school tasks done. Your non-negotiables might look different from mine and that's okay! Every family is different!
My Top 8
1. Read from the Bible (Josiah does this one at bedtime)
2. Boys practice reading (I use The Ordinary Parents' Guide to Teaching Reading)
3. Math booklets (Justus does 1 page, Jer does 2, and Ali does 3)
4. Review Grammar for the week (takes 5-10 minutes)
5. Read-aloud together (The Children's Book of America, Story of the World)
6. Prescripts Cursive writing (Ali and Jer each do 1 page a day)
7. Explode the Code (Jer does 2 pages a day)
8. Ali works on Essentials tasks (tracing charts, making keyword outlines, etc.)
Most days we can also get to reading a devotional lesson together, map tracing, working on presentations, singing our Bible memory work song, playing a review game, doing math flashcards, Justus and Katri tracing alphabet worksheets, doing an English lesson for the boys, doing calendar time with Justus, puzzles or playdough for Katri, Classical notebooks, singing the Timeline or United States song, and journaling or writing exercises for boys, but if we don't that's okay!
Simplifying our days and letting go of perfectionism has caused me to LOVE homeschooling! Though our days aren't perfect they are productive!