What do these three statements have in common?
- The perfect homeschool
- The perfect homeschooling mother
- The perfect homeschooling family
Yes, they all have the word perfect in them but, more importantly, they are all LIES. There are no perfect homeschools, homeschooling mothers, or homeschooling families. The sooner we stop believing in the myth of perfection, the happier we will be with our homeschools, ourselves, and our families. In fact, the myth of perfection is downright dangerous for the continued success of our homeschools.
Believing in Perfection Can Lead to Doubts About Your Homeschool
I know that our homeschool is not perfect. I also know that my favorite homeschool mom blogger’s homeschool isn’t perfect either…even if it looks perfect online. For that matter, I know the public school in our town isn’t perfect. The public schools in neighboring towns aren’t perfect either. I also know the private schools in our area are not perfect. I know that every school and every homeschool has pros and cons, strong points and weak points.
When I keep that truth in mind, I am fine. The danger comes when I slip back into believing in perfection. If I believe in perfection and I KNOW that our homeschool isn’t perfect, then it only makes sense that if my children went to school somewhere else they would be getting a perfect education.
I recently had to remind myself about the lack of perfection anywhere during a clam dissection with my teenage daughter. We couldn’t find the heart. In our directions for the dissection, it was stated that we may be able to find the heart. Well, we didn’t. I began to doubt myself when creeping thoughts stole into my mind that suggested to me that if my daughter were in a school other than our homeschool then she would definitely have been able to find the clam’s heart because her teacher could help her.
Really? Well, maybe. Or maybe my daughter would be afraid to ask the teacher. Or maybe the teacher wouldn’t be able to find the heart. Or maybe there wouldn’t be enough time during the class to even get to the part of the dissection in which one searches for the heart. Or maybe there wouldn’t even be a Marine Biology class offered.
Believing in Perfection Can Lead to Doing Nothing At All
Another danger of perfectionism is that perfectionism can be quite immobilizing. What do I mean by stating that perfection is immobilizing? Well, let’s take a nature study outing as an example. You want to take your children to a local nature center to explore nature and complete some nature drawings.
In your mind’s eye, you picture a perfect day so you begin to prepare to make sure that the day is, indeed, perfect. So, you wait to visit the nature center until you have time to buy the perfect drawing pencils and sketchbooks. Then you wait for the weather to be perfect. Then you wait for everybody to have perfect attitudes about going on the nature study outing. You wait and wait to make sure the reality matches your idea of perfection…and you never actually visit the nature center at all.
Believing in perfection and constantly striving towards perfection can actually keep us from doing anything at all. If you wait for the perfect situation to go for a nature study outing, nature study may never happen. If you wait for the perfect afternoon to do an art lesson, art lessons may never happen. If you wait to do hands-on science with your children until the science materials are perfectly organized, hands-on science may never happen.
Believing in Perfection Can Lead to Costly Curriculum Changes
Now, sometimes a particular curriculum is just not working for a child and we must give up curriculum guilt and try something new. Often, though, we are ready to chuck a particular curriculum because it just isn’t living up to our ideas of perfection. Why don’t my children beg me to read another chapter in our history read-alouds like the children in the curriculum catalog? Why don’t my children have looks of utter glee and fascination on their faces while doing their science experiments? Why isn’t my child a voracious reader?
Curriculum is nothing more than a tool. While some curriculum works better than others for a particular child, no curriculum will produce a perfect child. We work with imperfect curriculum, imperfect teachers, and imperfect children to achieve imperfect results and that’s reality. Chucking more money at curriculum in hopes of achieving a perfect result is not wise.
Believing in Perfection Can Lead to Constant Disappointment
If we feel we can settle for nothing less than perfection, we set ourselves up to be constantly disappointed. If we have unrealistic ideas about how our children should perform, how our school days should proceed, and how we should handle our role as a homeschooling mother; we are likely to be disappointed with the outcomes. Disappointment leads to discouragement. Enough discouragement can lead to giving up homeschooling completely.
Setting realistic goals for ourselves, our children, and our homeschools is a much healthier way to approach our day to day work educating our children. We also need to realize that, even though we can try really hard, we may not be at our best every day. Our children won’t always be at their best either. We can try our best every day to be encouraging, organized, and prepared…but not perfect.
Believing in Perfection Leads to Over-Planning and Over-Preparation
While planning and preparation are definitely keys to success in homeschooling, striving to make everything perfect can lead to over-planning and over-preparation. Eventually, every homeschooling mother has to face the fact that there are a limited number of hours in the day. We can’t do everything all of the time. We should be spending more time with our children than working on behind the scenes preparation and planning. If not, the culprit may be focusing on trying to make things perfect.
Embrace imperfection and focus on making ourselves, our homeschools, and our children the best they can be – certainly not perfect, but perfectly imperfect!
Samantha writes about homeschooling and family life at To Be Busy At Home.
Thank you to Graur Codrin at Free Digital Photos for the picture of the three “perfect” glass spheres.
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