Perfectionism might be sinking your homeschool. Maybe you already know that. On the other hand, maybe you look around your messy house or your unorganized life and say “Perfectionism? I wish!” Whether you’re the organized type or not, perfectionism may be playing a part in your struggle to really thrive in your homeschooling.
The impossible standard may come from a variety of places:
- Wanting to look good to others
- Fear of not doing or being “good enough”
- Worry that we may shortchange our children’s education
- Fixed and unrealistic homeschooling ideals
- Misplaced desire for personal excellence
6 Ways Perfectionism Will Sink You
1. Prevents Real Progress
We map out detailed plans for the year, the month, or the day, complete with file folder systems, pretty binders, and maybe even digital calendars. We follow it diligently for a few weeks and then chuck it when things go off track. We become so side-tracked with doing things just right that we don’t do them at all.
This is a problem especially for those of us who think things are only worth doing if they are done with excellence. It’s a GOOD thing to be thorough and wholehearted in all we do. It’s a bad thing to let that prevent us from moving forward because it doesn’t match our ideal.
2. Confuses The Kids
The kids aren’t ever really sure if we’ll follow a plan or wing it. We start a curriculum and then mom loses interest within a week or two and it gets dropped. Some weeks mom stresses out about getting every page done in order, and other days it’s a nature study and a tea party. It’s not a relaxed schedule – it’s chaos and mom is obviously uptight about it.
3. Fosters Discontent
It’s called analysis paralysis, or even discontent, and it isn’t pretty. We get so (gleefully) lost in researching curriculum, reading about homeschooling styles, and downloading printable schedules, we cannot seem to actually DO the homeschooling. So many printables and curriculum, so little time. Then once that new shiny program comes out with all the manipulatives and blog reviews, ours starts to look pretty dingy.
4. Drains Our Funds
Every time a curriculum doesn’t solve our need for perfection, we ditch it and look elsewhere. Every time a new program comes out, we think maybe that’s “the one” and go off to research it. Before the kids hit seven years old we’ve accumulated five or more reading programs on the bookshelves. (Ahem. Personal experience.)
5. Tanks Our Confidence
Instead of being inspired or informed by good homeschooling articles, reviews, or curriculum, we become anxious that we’re not doing enough. Are we missing something vital? Have we been mistaken all along about the importance of method A over method B? Do we really know what we’re doing?
6. Steals Our Joy
Instead of consistently enjoying our homeschooling days, we spend too much of it looking for greener curriculum grass, scrutinizing our tools, and doubting our ability. Some of us may even doubt the call God has placed on us to homeschool our kids. It should not be so!
Staying Afloat and Sailing On
Can you relate to any of this? *tapping on computer screen* Are there other closet perfectionists out there? It took me a long time to realize that my lack of organization, direction, and vision was a perfectionism problem.
Here are some ways I have learned to get past that perfectionist block:
- Have Perspective and Vision
- Visibility and Accountability
- Daily Must-Do’s and Done-Did’s
- Put on the Blinders
- Shop Your Shelves
- Enjoy Your Children
Have Perspective and Vision
Keep your eye on God and devotion to Him, which is the key to any successful homeschool. Stay away from detailed vision statements and goals, and just aim for a general vision: a love for God, a love for people, and a love of learning. Determine to pursue the leading of the Spirit instead of the perfect homeschool you have constructed in your head.
Visibility and Accountability
Being accountable to ourselves to do what we have purposed to do is important. The best way I have found to do that is to make your plans and progress visible. Have a simple weekly lesson plan for the week that includes plenty of whitespace. Put it on the wall or keep it on the counter where you can’t miss it.
For even more flexible planning, print and laminate an activity grid and post it on your wall. Fill it in with lessons and fun activities that you can complete as desired throughout the week.
Daily Must-Do’s and Done-Did’s
Determine a short list of must-do items and shrug when everything else gets dropped. Trust me, you can do this! The short list in our home right now includes daily read aloud time, a math lesson, and time outside. Everything else is just gravy.
Consider tracking your done-did’s (I felt you grammar gurus shudder just then) which is all the good things you completed for the day, whether planned or not. Sometimes I write them down but often it’s a mental list. For example: “Today we practiced our memory verse, played Uno, read a new book, ate a mostly healthy lunch, had a dance party, looked up how worms eat, did a math lesson, and bathed all the kids without a major incident.”
Put on the Blinders
If you’re distracted and led into discontent by all the blog posts, curriculum reviews, and pictures of your friend’s kids’ pristine homeschool project, slap on the blinders for a while! I love reading blogs and Facebook – they are valuable homeschooling tools for me! But sometimes I must stay away from them for a time until I’ve re-captured my vision and peace.
Shop Your Shelves
Sure, there are times when a change of curriculum is in order. However, many of us have collected books, curriculum, games and resources over time that still have good use in them. We know that how we teach with something is often more important than the particular curriculum being used. I can think of a dozen or so resources that need some love before I even consider buying or downloading something new! Perhaps a month of homeschooling planned around what we already have would be a good place to start!
Enjoy Your Children
When the day has gone south or I start to fret about my woeful lack of overachivement, I purpose to spend the day enjoying my children. We snag an activity from our grid, go for an outing, or snuggle up for a read. Tomorrow is a new day!
Just Do It
Once you realize you have an issue with perfectionism, pray for the Lord to help you overcome it. He can use your strengths and weaknesses to help bring about His purposes for you family. If you seek Him, He will lead you in your homeschooling efforts because he cares about this important and worthy task! Ask Him to guide your relationship with your children in the day-to-day, direct the academic training and discipleship of your children, and fill you with His Spirit to raise them up in the way He desires.
He will never fail you!
Erica B says
This is a really great source…I love your very practical tips. Thanks for writing!
Thank you so much for this. It’s like you are a fly on my wall :-). Your words are always a blessing to me, and this article spoke to my core. Thank you for taking the time to not only recognize the perfectionism, but some practical ways to overcome. I’ll print this off to keep in my files of encouragement that I read when I want to throw in the towel. God bless you!