The mental “checklists for moms” can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially for homeschool moms! Here is one fresh take on all of the pressure.
Homeschool moms worry more than anyone I know. They worry about the basic things—their children’s safety, health and nutrition, interaction with siblings and neighbors, as well as moral and spiritual development. But on top of that, they worry about their children’s academic progress, for they, ultimately, are responsible for making most of it happen!
Well, that opens up a whole new level of worries, doesn’t it? And chief among those is the daily worry of “not getting through” the curriculum. It doesn’t matter how many times a mom hears a speaker or curriculum developer say: “Getting through the curriculum, per se, is not the most important thing.”
That mom still has a checklist in her mind: “What did we miss in last week’s lessons? What worksheets didn’t we even start? What units can we skip? What materials need to be replaced before next year?”
You surely have your own “What Didn’t Get Done” checklist.
These mental checklists cause great stress in of daily life. Rotating in the homeschool mom’s head, such lists present a nearly debilitating parade of tiny failures: assignments, units, goals not met. And, with more than one child, that checklist rotates in 3-D!
Plus, these lists spin at different speeds and levels of intensity. The checklist for the pre-school child moves at a manageable speed. After all, the child is but three years old, so there is plenty of time ahead. But the checklist for the 16-year old moves in rapid pulses, turning around other anxieties, including worries about issues of maturity, college-prep, and vocational training.
There’s always one more critical item on the checklist. It’s written in invisible ink, but the question is always there: “Should I indeed continue to homeschool Child A or Child C next year? Or should we change the plan?” This might be the most worrisome item on the list.
I’d like to propose a different kind of checklist for moms to consider. It’s based not on whether worksheets are completed or units digested. The content is more important than this. It consists of items we forget to value amid the bustle of our daily schedule. Enumerated below are the very reasons many people begin homeschooling in the first place.
If you wish, you can be view these points as the principal negative things your child avoids every day that you homeschool. No matter how you look at it, this list has markers you can check off each day—points of success for your child by virtue of the fact that you are homeschooling.
Has your child:
- had sufficient sleep (i.e., isn’t sleep-deprived habitually as is the case for many students in brick-and mortar schools);
- eaten some kind of breakfast;
- been spared passing through a metal-detector or security check in order to enter a place of learning;
- avoided being confined to a desk for seven hours in order to complete what sometimes is as little as one to two hours of actual work;
- been allowed recesses or breaks as needed for his/her optimal concentration;
- been able to work at his or her comprehension level, rather than be pushed to meet a pre-determined group curriculum plan;
- avoided sitting a good part of the day in boredom to fit the dumbed-down needs of peers;
- not wasted a substantial part of the day in mindless activities such as homeroom or study hall;
- been spared propagandizing by the latest trend in social engineering;
- And most importantly: been allowed to pray and read the Bible?
Can you check off any these things? Most of them? If so, the day is already a success, no matter what units your child completed or failed to complete.
My question to you is simple: are you giving yourself credit for these critical educational accomplishments? If not, I suggest that you begin to do so today! They are concrete achievements—important ones. So important, in fact, that I want you to print out the list and post it on the refrigerator or on your bathroom mirror. Add points of a similar nature that express the moral and spiritual goals of your home education. And check them off regularly!
It may be quite helpful to juxtapose this checklist with the mental list most parents have to check off when their kids come home from brick-and-mortal institutions, bedraggled, frustrated, and beaten down. Just turn the points above around, and you’ll have it!
That child probably has:
- risen at about 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. to commute to school (after doing homework until 11p.m. or later, in the case of older children);
- rushed through or skipped breakfast;
- passed through metal-detectors or security lines to enter school;
- spent around seven hours confined to a desk, regardless of the schedule of actual learning;
…you can continue the list, but I’m sure you get the point.
Of course there are exceptions. You may have a family where blended education is the right solution, so that a certain child (or children) is best served by a brick-and-mortal school, while others are homeschooled. But in the main, the “Life-Ready Checklist 1” of positive daily achievements in your homeschool likely applies.
It is monumentally important that we don’t devalue the precious advantages of homeschooling. Let this list remind you of the host of negative experiences you are removing from your children’s education while replacing them with an environment of positive learning, safety, and personal support. You’ve argued these very points to family members and neighbors when they reacted to the news you were going to homeschool with the exclamation: “You’re going to do what?” Trust what you know to be true.
I’ll share my next checklist when I write to you again next month. Meanwhile, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. You can reach me on my website, or via our contact email firstname.lastname@example.org.