Three Lies Believed by the Homeschool Perfectionist

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In high school, I recognized my tendency to exclude people from my circle of friends who didn’t take advanced classes. Being demanding of others and setting unrealistic expectations for myself was a miserable place to be. My convictions were exhausting. When I started homeschooling, it didn’t change; homeschooling merely fueled my tendency for perfectionism.

There were three primary lies I believed as a homeschool perfectionist. I share them here to hopefully keep this faulty mindset from overtaking your homeschool as it did to mine.

Lie 1: My kids will benefit when I teach them to be precise and detailed.

Truth: This lie is a convenient justification. Teaching children to be precise and detailed has merit, but for a perfectionist it easily turns into being exacting and demanding.

My wakeup call came when I started homeschooling my second son. His need to take his time with hands-on activities and to wiggle while learning was a jolt to my perfect routine. My perfectionism resulted in unreasonable expectations for my son’s age and learning preferences.

Worse yet, homeschooling was no longer about the needs of my children, but it was about my self-fulfillment. I was the cause of our homeschool wreck.

Lie 2: Other people aren’t as mindful of high educational standards as I am.

Truth: Instead of being judgmental of others, I learned that letting go of unrealistic expectations didn’t mean letting go of all expectations.

Defending my extreme views, I was afraid to give up control and try something different. A few months into my homeschool journey, I wanted to quit. Instead of finding balance, getting support, and rethinking my views, I was ready to send my kids to public school.

My desire to be a supermom almost sabotaged my homeschooling. I had to stop what I was doing. Instead of attaching importance to goals that didn’t matter, I had to focus on what mattered the most, which is a higher standard in education, customized to each child’s unique learning style. Being better than other moms isn't the goal. Providing the best possible education for my children is the objective.

Lie 3: My well-thought-out research on the perfect homeschool trumps emotion.

Truth: Finding the happy middle ground even when it goes against my black-and-white mindset is a must when homeschooling.

Three Lies Believed by the Homeschool PerfectionistWhy did I hold on to my well-thought-out research and rigid homeschool philosophy? Prior to homeschooling, I had worked in the legal field, doing research for attorneys. Research unmoved by emotion was paramount to making a strong defense. I thought holding tight to my initial conclusions was a sign of strength.

However, homeschooling is about experimenting to find what works. What works may change from year to year, from week to week, and most certainly from child to child.

To fix my perfectionist tendency to adhere to my researched plans, learned to trust my intuition when things needed to change for my kids. Black-and-white thinking kills the joy of finding new ways to learn. Avoiding an all or nothing approach to homeschool is freeing.

Look at these detailed ways to relax rigid thinking and bring spice to your home ed journey.

  • Combine the parts of two of your favorite approaches. Mixing a boxed curriculum with a unit study creates an exceptional homeschool experience for your family.

  • Don’t give up the comfort of your routine and schedule; balance it by trying a block schedule. Use the first part of the day or block to cover important content subjects like reading, writing and arithmetic. Use the next block of time to do relaxed hands-on science or history that your children want to do.

  • School only four days a week. Having one day off for a slower start to the week or using it for a field trip keeps your homeschool relaxed. Try to remember rest leaves you afire with high goals and creative ideas.

  • Simplify your checklist. Entrusting deadlines and goals to memory creates stress for me, but so does an exhaustive checklist. Make your checklist more valuable by narrowing it down to just four or five goals for the day instead of ten.

Finding the shades of gray in homeschooling opened up a world of possibilities and ways to teach my children.

Bring your organized, intense, independent, and perfection seeking personality to your homeschool, but learn what is more important. Move from perfection to progress.

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