You have a vision in your head of what a perfect homeschool day should look like.
The room or area where you teach is clean. There are tidy cubbies and shelves neatly housing your kids’ crayons, pencils, paper, and other supplies.
You’re calmly presenting curriculum to your kids. They’re enthusiastic to learn. Their butts are in their chairs, and they’re leaning in and listening to your instructions.
When you’re done, they turn to their work and begin right away. They’re focused, they follow your agenda. They stay on task through the homeschool day until they finish on schedule.
Here’s the problem. That’s a fantasy!
Things only go that smoothly every once in a while.
So, you get upset when the homeschool day falls short of your perfect vision. You feel like you’re failing. Like things are out of control. You get angry with your kids for not cooperating. You yell at them a little.
The kids are confused.
Why is mom getting so mad?
You’re mad because you’re being a perfectionist. But kids don’t fit into a perfect mold. They’re kids!
So, what do you do?
First, you need to let go of that perfect vision. Then, over time, you develop a reality that works for your homeschool. A reality that’s imperfect, messy, and effective.
Let’s talk about how to get you there.
How to Know When You’re Being Too Perfectionist In Your Homeschool
Do you experience outright rebellion in your homeschool? Are your kids doing their very best to push your every last button? Do they shut down and refuse to try?
It’s important to remember that we all have our bad days. But if the questions above reflect your day-to-day reality, that’s a problem.
It means you’re having too many power struggles with your kids. Some are inevitable, but they shouldn’t happen all the time.
When you’re often in an adversarial position with your kids, it’s a sign that you’re being too perfectionist. Instead, think about giving them what they need.
Do your kids feel comfortable asking questions? Do they share their thoughts and ideas? Do you welcome and listen to their constructive feedback?
If not, that’s also a sign that you’re being perfectionist.
Perfectionism tends to be narrow. It restrains kids from expressing themselves for fear of upsetting you or making you angry.
Reset your expectations. Ask your kids for their input and feedback the same way you give it to them. They’ll show you how to be a better teacher. Set the example. Show them how to receive constructive feedback as gracefully as you teach them how to give it.
Instead of adversaries, you and your kids work together on the same team to prepare them for the future.
How To Keep Things Under Control Without Being Too Controlling
1. Do backup planning. Sometimes the kids aren’t going to connect with a particular lesson or activity you’ve planned for them. Sometimes unexpected disruptions throw off your plans for the day. It happens, and it’s normal. These are things you can’t control, and you need to roll with them. You’ve got to let go of the image of the perfect day.
When planning your week, always have several backup activities prepared in advance. They can reinforce or enrich a learning goal or offer enrichment to give your kids a deeper understanding. Use them when a lesson you’ve planned doesn’t work. Don’t try to force it.
2. Have homeschool room systems in place, and teach them to your kids. Set up procedures for your kids to follow, so they can move forward to another activity on their own.
You don’t want your kids to waste time waiting on you. Teach them where to go and what to do when they finish and have extra time before the next lesson. Prepare a project station they can go to work on something else if they’re done early.
Is there a specific location where they can see the day’s agenda, so they don’t always ask you what comes next? Is there a specific place in the room where they put their finished work, so they don’t disrupt a one-on-one session you’re having with another one of your kids?
These are all examples of room systems. They decrease frustration and make better use of homeschool time. Use them.
3. Remember that your kids are kids. They’re fidgety, restless, and have short attention spans. After they get off subject, it takes kids exponentially longer than adults to settle down and get back on task. Don’t get angry at them for being kids and doing what kids do.
Discard the perfectionist vision. Replace it with one where your kids can be themselves and are active learners during homeschool time.
Letting Go of Perfectionism Doesn’t Mean You Lower Your Standards!
Within the need for flexibility, there are certain areas where you don’t budge. They may differ from family to family. But those non-negotiable standards tend to focus in two areas: behavioral expectations and quality of learning.
You can be flexible yet insist that everyone treat one another with respect. You can have a messy homeschool room but keep the kids’ quality of learning high.
Your perfect homeschool can look a myriad of ways. Let go of perfectionism, work with your kids, and keep them learning. It’s going to be great!
Writing Rockstars offers a non-fiction homeschool writing curriculum for middle and high school students. Please visit our Courses page to learn more about our offerings.