I’ve noticed a pattern as to when I am frustrated, especially in the course of homeschooling.
I am frustrated when I don’t have enough sleep, need to shower, or need to eat. The need to take care for myself has never been more apparent to me than now, when I realize that if I don’t prioritize my physical needs, homeschooling suffers. This is different from teaching in the classroom — I can get by on a little less sleep, push through the day with an icky feeling, or wait things out until lunch. But no, not at home.
I am frustrated when I have wrong or impossibly vague expectations about how things turn out. Knowing this, I am checking my thoughts more and more. What did you expect out of this? Are those expectations reasonable? When I get down to it, most of the frustrations arising from misplaced expectations do dissipate. Case inpoint: Yesterday I introduced the concept of tapping on glasses with different water levels in them as a musical exploration activity (there’s a great lesson plan to take whatever you want here). Emphasis on the exploration part. Yet there I was, sitting on the ground with my preschooler, fighting a slowly mounting tide of frustration as there were no conclusions obviously being drawn about the relationship between pitch and amount of water. Eventually she asked for food colouring and had a bunch of fun pouring water back and forth between all the different cups I had out. As far as exploration went, there were things being explored! Were they what I wanted? I have no idea, and that’s okay.
Lessons learned: 1) Better to voice these thoughts out than keep them in, because then I realize how silly I’m being. 2) Even better to voice these thoughts out to my husband. I told Jack when he got home and he scoffed, “Even my grade tens might not get all that right away. Water exploration is great.” 3) I really need to keep my focus on the right thing. Exploration is exploration and there is no telling what my child will or will not pick up. And that’s okay.
In a similar line of thinking, I am frustrated (and fearful, and anxious, and doubtful, and all those fun things) when I do not focus on the right things. About a month ago I was chatting with another couple and they mentioned the things they do with their child, who is about half a year younger than R. I thought I used to be competitive, but I was wrong: that competitive streak is still there. In a spirit of “fun” we were quizzing our respective children and I cheered internally whenever R got a question faster than the other child. Then I was quite sad at home because said child seemed to be keeping up with R, who is half a year older, and what was the point of my homeschooling if R is not going to be an academic genius who intellectually destroys every other child at her age?
I wish I could say I’m joking but yes, my thoughts went there. And then the absurdity of those thoughts stopped me. As proud as I would be to have a child who excelled by school system / developmental / some other external standard, I realized that really wasn’t the point of me homeschooling. The incident caused me to revisit my own homeschooling mission statement. As I rewrote it, in light of my child being almost of school-age, I realized that:
- I am homeschooling because I am in love with the joy of learning.
- I want to see my child’s progression for myself.
- I think it is my personal responsibility to point her towards eternity, equipping her for this life and beyond.
- I am quite convinced (until something else happens otherwise) that full-time work in another profession will detract from my ability to complete number 3. If I’m staying at home, I might as well give my child the gift of flexibility, freedom, and excitement of choice, as is found in homeschooling.
Points 1 and 2 form much of the same reasons for which I entered the teaching profession, but the limitations of a teacher are that I can never follow them very far (their parents have that privilege!). At least with my child, I can do this and am, for now, in the very fortunate circumstance of being able to do so.
Rewriting my mission statement not only helped lend clarity to the following weeks, but also helped remove much of the second-guessing I had at the time. I’m sure I’ll need to revisit this train of thought again, often.
Featured photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash.