Our lives are a mix.
Like anyone, we each have our gifts and our shortcomings.
Yet somehow it always seems easier to focus on the shortcomings.
When I wrote this spunky post about cropping out what isn’t working in our lives I didn’t anticipate the positive response that it would receive.
But it turns out it’s a message we’re starving for.
That message is this:
Stop looking for perfection in others and seeing only flaws in yourself. We are all imperfect. Crop out what isn’t working in your life and celebrate what is.
Because the very nature of life involves getting some things right and some things wrong. Let’s get over ourselves and stop trying to be perfect.
When it comes to homeschooling it’s especially hard to look beyond our imperfections.
Because homeschooling is something we’re so motivated to get right. And many of us worry that we might get it wrong.
My homeschooling will fall apart if I don’t hold myself to a more rigid schedule. But I can’t do it! I am a failure.
Everyone else seems to have an easier time teaching their kids than I do. What do they have that I don’t?
At times it can also be hard to look past our child’s shortcomings.
Because it’s our job to stay on top of their learning. And what if something doesn’t come easily?
His tests are terrible again. What is wrong with him? Why can’t he get this?
If they would just sit down and listen for once we could get through it. They never cooperate!
And while I do not suggest that you ignore your homeschool struggles, I do ask that you keep perspective.
Crop out the self-doubt and criticism and celebrate what comes easily.
If you can’t stick to a schedule, embrace the learning that happens regardless of the clock.
If your kids won’t sit still for school, then take them outside and study while you explore.
If you get stressed out when you take field trips, stay home and make a glorious mess with science projects on the deck.
Because one path doesn’t work for everyone.
And we don’t all have the same skills.
We do, however, all have some.
Why do we fixate on what isn’t working?
Our focus on our own struggles often comes down to self image.
I’m not good enough.
And our focus on our child’s struggles often comes down to our fears about the future.
She’s hitting again! She’ll never learn to get along with others.
He’s still struggling. What if he never gets it?
If they act like this now, I can’t imagine what they’ll be like as adults!
Finding confidence in ourselves and our children can cut us loose from the cycle of negativity.
Focus on what you do well.
Changing your focus from where you fail to where you shine can make all the difference.
(Yes, even in the areas you struggle.)
Try these tips to find your strengths and use them in your schooling.
- Make a list of what you do well or enjoy. Go wild and list everything. Do you love to bake? Know a lot about nature? Enjoy games with your kids? Write it down.
- Create time in your day for the things on the list above. Be creative and fit it in wherever you can.
After a week check in with yourself. What learning has come from your gifts? How have your days improved? What about your view of yourself?
- Keep doing what you enjoy and do well. Every. Darn. Day.
- Remember to have fun. Learning is fun, life is fun. And everything come easier with a bit of joy in the mix.
This is where you say:
“Okay, Miss Smartypants, how do I shift my focus without losing sight of what needs work? I won’t pretend my child isn’t struggling.”
I am not proposing you ignore a learning disability or major behavioral issue.
I am simply asking you to focus on the good that you and your child possess while you work on what needs work.
Instead of thinking of your child as a poor speller, see him as a budding entomologist.
Because both may be true, but seeing his gifts will serve you both more than fixating on his weakness.
Then find a way to meld his passion for insects with a bit of writing and watch how much easier the spelling comes.
And as you work, remember this:
- It doesn’t need to all happen today. Use history for perspective. Reach back to other skills that came later than you expected that now come effortlessly for your child.
- Find creative ways to nurture your child’s learning. Play games. Go outside. Make things. Match your strengths to your child’s needs and create learning in unconventional places.
- Breathe through the fear. Most of what we worry about only ever happens in our head.
And remember: we all have strengths.
It’s time to see – and celebrate – the gifts that we have.
It’s time to release the self-doubt and the fear.
It’s time to crop out self-criticism once and for all.
Let’s start now. What are some of your parenting and homeschooling strengths?