We're scattered. That's the long and the short of it. The question remains, though, how can we be both scattered and successful? Success is an individual measurement. Our yardstick for successful homeschooling should be marked off in terms of what we want our end result to be. Where do we want our children when they move from one grade to the next or graduate from our homeschool? Is it our four-year-old reading or our high schooler graduating a year early? How about just getting through every subject in one day? Reciting the preamble to the Constitution in first grade? Do we even care about grade-level or state-set standards of learning?
If you are anything like me, you were just answering these questions in your head as you read through them. That's good, but you aren't done. Grab a piece of paper or five, and sit down to deliberately write down your desires for each child by name. Then create your measuring stick for each child as well. For example, Sarah is four. She can recite her alphabet and numbers to 20. She loves being read to about birds and bugs. In our home, success for Sarah is being able to legibly write her alphabet and numbers, knowing a few facts about six different types of birds and bugs, and discovering new animals to enjoy. Do this exercise for each child. Beware of excited expectations. And please, please don't base your measuring stick on someone else's child. You may have the child genius, but you may also have the child who is dyslexic. You chose homeschooling for a reason; rest in that reason to guide your expectations for your homeschool's success.
Organization seems to be the hallmark of a successful homeschooling family. The matter becomes more difficult when your family falls short of the standard we see as success. One trip to a curriculum fair or homeschool convention can send even the most self-assured scatterbrain to their wit's end. All we seem to see are the perfect mother hens who rise before dawn to mill their own grain for freshly baked bread, weave fabric for beautifully stitched handmade clothes, and never have to correct their impeccably behaved child prodigies. Reality is that no one lives that life. Being organized is just using the tools available to their fullest extent.
Make sure that you do more than just buy a planner—use it. Yes, it's pretty, but you can mark in it anyway. Try first marking your recurring activities other than school. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but unlike a school-day schedule, those events are already set for you. After a couple of days of following this schedule, try outlining—one day at a time—your school schedule. With perseverance and, most importantly, grace for your failings, you will soon settle into a routine. Do not go back to comparing yourself to anyone. That is the death of personal change.
Perfection doesn't exist. If you stepped into my house right now, you would see shoes, dirty socks, books, and more littering my living room/school room, but I know where to find everything I need to teach. I can work around the other stuff. My children learn just fine with a little clutter around. It is just fine to retain some of your scatterbrain tendencies. They are part of what makes you an individual. Find your success in harnessing your tendencies, tweaking them a bit, and setting out to greatness!
Home Educating Family magazine is designed to encourage and strengthen families throughout the year. This article was originally printed in the Summer 2011 edition.
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