The end of one school year has me already planning for the next. I have great expectations for this coming school year! …Not perfect expectations but adventurous expectations that I will consider a live experiment of sorts and hopefully remember to laugh when I feel like crying.
As the end of our school year comes to a close and we prepare for summer, I take a look at the past year and evaluate. What did we accomplish? What worked and what did not? I am an over analyzer extraordinaire!
It is easy for me to see my glaring failures.
-My 12 yr old only did 7 lessons in his writing book. My unrealistic expectation was for him to finish everything the Veritas Press catalog for grade 6.
-My preschooler doesn’t know the ABC song. My unrealistic expectation for him was to read Pilgrim’s Progress and solve the Rubiks cube.
-My 15 year old just asked me what our home phone number is??? My unrealistic expectations for him?? He isn’t mayor of the town and hasn’t built me a house a top the hill yet?!?
I beat myself up because I didn’t oversee schooling like I wanted because of being being pregnant and on bedrest until 20 weeks….and then I had a baby in April and the house dynamic changed yet again with having a little newborn around. I mean, really, how hard is it?? And where is the garden and the year supply of home canned veggies?
I am completely kidding on the above unrealistic expectation parts for my children. Mostly, I am happy if we get fed, bathed, dressed and the schooling and not horrify the neighbors with our noise level. Homechooling moms are famous for unrealistic, over expectations! We too often get lost in over expectations that we have a hard time identifying real, live, healthy progress!
I am a creature of habit automatically looking at the negative first. However, I am learning how to catch myself and think honestly. When I recalibrate perspective, the positives far out number the negatives. My 12 year old is really fine. I can’t understand him when he talks about computers and he just completed his entire math book. My preschooler learned how to write his name and draw castle and sword fighting pictures this year. My 15 year old quickly learned his home phone number in about 30 seconds on his way out to finish his work on rebuilding a engine in the 4-wheeler he bought off Craigslist..his 2nd fix-it project this spring. Who knows phone numbers anymore anyway with today’s technology of smart phones and computers?
While our school year looked different from the average neighbor kids, it proved to be a highly successful year spiritually and practically. Reading, writing and arithmetic took place in a variety of ways. Music and Art infiltrated my house. Science and History study and observation were abundant. We worked a business, tended a farm, grew a family and learned to love and trust God more. All with plenty of challenges and successes, laughter and tears.
During my looking back over the last year, I was reminded to focus on the progress. I tend to want 100% progress all the time. While perfect 100% expectations and progress are often never the case, great expectations and imperfect progress are always possible with the right perspective.
If it is 2% progress in the right direction, that is positive progress. So many times, we look at the kitchen being a mess again, the dirty laundry on the floor again, the tiny imperfection marks and then the kids want to eat again. Worst of all, we often compare ourselves to other people and put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Add 101 additional things and it is just plain overwhelming and easy to think you have made no progress but backward regress.
However, when we train our eyes to see imperfect progress, we can be encouraged and grateful for the 2%….and then be spurred on for the next 2%. Sometimes it is baby steps. I was convicted that I should be excited about those baby steps of progress just like I am over my baby taking his first steps. Who gets down in the dumps over watching a baby taking steps? Rejoice in progress…even baby step progress.
One of the beauties of home education is that there is a lot of opportunity to jump on opportunities that come our way. Bed rest wasn’t in the plan last school year, however, that humbling inconvenience enabled me to spend much more one on one time with individual children teaching them from the comfy corner of my bed. It stirred up ideas on how I could better combine multiple grade levels, inspire older children to self-learn and how I could better distribute chores instead of me or the older children doing everything. After all my whining and complaining, I settled in on the perfect path the Lord planned for me.
It was a great school year of progress in the right direction!
Most importantly, we ended the school year with a little miracle baby who is healthy and happy. Perfect progress at its best!