Thursday, November 3, 2011

Biggest Homeschooling Mistake (thus far)

Simple Homeschool has been featuring a series on the biggest mistakes their contributors have made in the area of home education. Insightful, to say the least. Editor Jamie Martin has invited the rest of us to join in the conversation. So, in the name of steering at least one kind soul clear of my own foibles, here goes.  

If you've known me for more than a day or so you'll quickly realize what you're dealing with. While the adjectives may vary (organized, detailed, controlling) the bottom line is that I'm a Type-A freak who derives an embarrassingly large amount of satisfaction out of planning my life and the lives of those around me. There, I said it. 

As with most traits there's both good and bad to be found within the mix. My ability to plan has certainly provided momentum for our somewhat new venture in the land of homeschooling. I have reviewed countless volumes of curriculum, collected lists upon lists of the best of children's literature and even calendared every flag day for the coming school year. 

If the truth be known, I've also figured out how to synchronize history curriculum for my two girls when they're twelve and six (presently they're two and eight) and weighed the pros and cons of enrolling my eldest in junior college courses while she is still in high school. In case you're wondering, my girls are slated to studyAncient History in 2017. 

And that's where things get a bit dicey. While I think that most of us can see the value in mapping a course, there's equal merit in sitting within the moment - trusting that time and experience will gift you with the necessary insights to plan your next move. 

Too often, I'm afraid, I miss the moment in the name of planning ahead. 

And the moments which make up these young years are precious and fleeting. Will it matter more that I know when my girls will take Algebra or that I sat beside my littlest as she counted the first three apples she picked off the tree? Should I continue my pursuit of procuring the best reading list for eight year-old's or actually curl up next to my real life child with the story that's before us...even if it hasn't earned a Newbery Medal. 

Of course there is a time to plan. Our school house benefits from this practice. So how do I keep my Type-A self in check?

1. Stay Focused
Teaching your kids at home is no easy thing. I've found a direct correlation between my stress level and the energy I put toward planning my girls' high school baccalaureates. The more overwhelmed I feel in the moment, the more I tend to leap into the future. 

Understanding this, my job in those moments becomes reeling myself back in to the day at hand. I essentially put myself on planning restriction until I find myself in a more rational place. 

2. Embrace Myself
I will never not be a planner. It is who I am and to deny this would only bring large amounts of angst to me and those I love. Instead my responsibility becomes harnessing this energy for the tasks set before me in the near future (i.e. not seventh grade history). 

Have I planned meals for the week? What section of math will we be covering this next month? Those are the types of questions that can tap into my planning skills and produce valuable results.

3. Find a Balance
Not everyone in the world (or even in my own circle) has a love relationship with planning. That said, there's room for synergy as I encountered other parents who bring different skills (even idiosyncrasies) to the mix. 

For example, the more laid back ladies often provide me with a much needed deep breath and reminder that kids learn in all sorts of ways and that this learning is not entirely dependent on lesson plans. Likewise, I'm able to offer insight and perspective to these friends when they find themselves stumped as to how to organize their school supplies or locate a children's book pertaining to a certain topic.

4. Keep it Real
At the end of the day, the week or even at the end of our child's entire school career we have to remember that there is only so much we can do. Plans are just that - plans. Yes, they have their place. And yes, they will be interrupted, revised and all together thrown aside at moments. 

Still entirely more critical to the equation is your real life, fidgeting, discovering, complaining, excelling, wandering, engaging child. Plan to love them well - that's more than any Day-Timer can offer.  



  1. I am tempted to be a "planning overachiever" sometimes. But I have realized in my (thus far) short journey in homeschooling that this is not a good idea (although, it can have its pros in other areas). Thank you for validating me and for providing great insights! Great post!

  2. This was great! It felt like you were writing about me. I too am a type A list maker and planner. I love having a list but dislike it when I let the list drive my day instead of the relationships. This statement ...'The more overwhelmed I feel in the moment, the more I tend to leap into the future. ' ...really resonated with me. It is so true!! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Once upon a time I was a planner. That was 16 years and 3 kids ago. Now I'm more of a flying by the seat of my pants type of personality. Wish I could get at least some of the planner in me back!

  4. I find planning pretty invigorating ... It's the follow-through that gets me!

    I love how you're able to celebrate both the strength and the weakness of this one trait. What a great sense of perspective!

  5. I think I am the complete opposite :) I love making lists and I'll keep a few here in there, but when it comes to long term planning - forget it! I'm always in the here and now. I don't know what we're having for lunch tomorrow.

  6. I love this.

    Planning calms me. We are in a state of flux in my family right now, this week I found it to be too much so I started planning. I now have a working schedule, and *almost* all the curriculum planned for next year. (I just have a little bit more research left)

    Thank you for the very timely reminder to stay present.