Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY
When Jamie proposed this series to us a couple months ago I was stumped for a topic.
Not because I haven’t made mistakes. Of course I have. I just don’t look at life that way – looking back to mistakes, wishing or wondering if I should have done something different.
I happen to be married to an idea-generating, forward thinking optimist (I bring a dose of realism to the mix which makes for an excellent partnership). If I so much as utter, “oh, I wish I would have” or even worse, “that was stupid of me,” I am sure to be stopped in my tracks with a loving reproval from my husband.
I think this is a healthy perspective to have on homeschool mistakes and life in general. And when I am tempted to think “if only” I find it more helpful to face forward with proactive ideas for change instead of looking back.
Lest you think I think I’m perfect (my family will be the first to set you straight!) there have been homeschooling mistakes I’ve made along the way.
One in particular comes to mind.
Giving in to fear.
Not only is giving in to fear the worst reason to homeschool it’s also, I believe, one of the worst mistakes we can make in our homeschool practice.
I know. I’ve done it.
Photo by Renee Tougas
Fear is incidious and destructive in our lives, and without a doubt can have negative effects on our homeschool practice. It usually sneaks up on me (see what I mean about insidious) and I don’t even realize I’ve let it into my mindset until I see the following behaviors in myself.
Fear makes me compare myself and my children to others in a negative light. Either they are bad or we are bad.
At times I have compared my children to others, fearful that we are behind in something. This is absolutely unproductive thinking.
I homeschool my children to give them a family-focused, personalized education. Why should it matter to me what books other nine year olds are reading or what level they are at in math? It shouldn’t.
And let’s not even go into the comparison game we sometimes way too often play as mothers. Talk about destructive behavior.
These comparisons, motivated by fear, are definitely mistakes I can own up to.
Fear makes me panic and make hasty, uninformed decisions.
Over the years my children have gone through short term “slumps” of feeling lonely or bored.
These might last a few days or a few weeks. And during intense growth periods that feeling of just being off can last longer.
Motivated by fear that my kids might not be “properly socialized” if they experience occasional periods of blah I have over-responded to such situations with too many outings, activities, and social opportunities. This pattern of behavior leaves us all exhausted.
We need to listen to our children and do our best to meet their needs, but boredom and yes, even occasional loneliness are part of the human condition and can’t be “activitied” away.
Photo by Renee Tougas
In fact, learning how to deal with this natural part of the human condition is a skill we need to teach our children. When we rush in to fix every single moment of pain or boredom – with outings, video games, or sugar – we do our children a disservice in their growth and development.
When I see comparison and panic rearing their ugly heads I know I need a mental shift.
This is not a one day, quick fix solution but an on-going transformation and renewing of my mind through prayer, gratitude, scripture reading, connection with loved ones, time in nature, and other meditative practices.
Photo by Renee Tougas
Misha wrote an excellent article here at Simple Homeschool about slaying the giants of insecurity, comparison and fear. If you struggle with fear and need strategies to help overcome that her post is an excellent read.
Can I share a little secret with you? We all struggle with fear, even our friends and family who send their kids to school. So don’t think for a moment, “Oh, if I was only sending the kids to school I wouldn’t have to walk through this uncertainty”. Oh no, sister, you’d just be walking through different fears.
Choosing to give fear even a teensy bit of wiggle room in our lives will mess with our homeschool happiness.
And that has been my biggest mistake – giving fear a place in my mind and in some of my decision making.
I’m not going to ask you what you fear. Jamie already did that. Instead I’m going to ask you to be proactive.
What strategies do you use or plan to use to renew your mind and speak truth to your heart in those moments of fear?