When Homeschooling Falls Short of Expectations (And 5 Ways to Turn Things Around!)

Overview: We want our homeschool years to be fantastic! But what if they aren’t quite living up to our expectations? Or what if they’re downright mediocre? Here are 5 ways to turn that disappointment around.

As most of us have recently started back with regular homeschool lessons, or will soon do so, we have high homeschool expectations for what the new year will bring. We order boxes full of books. We plan amazing field trips and super science experiments.

And we bask in the newness of it all, confident that this will be the year that our kids fall in love with learning and thank us for all of the hard work and sacrifices we’ve made by choosing to homeschool them.

When Homeschooling Falls Short of Expectations: And 5 Ways to Turn Things Around!

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if this year falls a bit short of our expectations? What if instead of being an exceptional year it’s merely mediocre?

High Homeschool Expectations

Let me ask you a question. How many times have you tried to encourage someone by telling them to have an awesome day? Or by saying you are confident that God has “great” plans for their life. Or have talked about how amazing homeschooling can be? Or have pushed your kids to accomplish even more by telling them that they can do anything they want to do and they shouldn’t settle.

But is that true? Are we all destined for a great life? Can we really do anything and everything that we want to do in this world?

When we tell someone to have an awesome life in an attempt to encourage them, are we actually setting them up for disappointment?

I don’t know about you but I’m the type of person who feels high highs and low lows. I get myself worked up thinking about how amazing my next birthday will be. Or how much fun we’ll have at the next family gathering. Or I’ll get excited about certain homeschool assignments thinking about how much my sons are going to enjoy them.

And excitement can be a great thing!

But I build things up in my mind as I go about making the various preparations, and I can become almost giddy with anticipation. Only to have it all come crashing down when the high expectations I had don’t even come close to being met.

Can you relate?!?

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all made in God image. We long for greatness and we feel special. And we are! But not for the reason that most of us think.

Sometimes we look around and see a mediocre life or a less-than-hoped-for homeschool experience and wonder what went wrong.

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Everything is Meaningless?

Dr. Mike Wittmer recently preached at our church and his sermon was extremely encouraging to me. It was called “The Folly of Life.” Now, you may be wondering how a sermon with that title could be encouraging but stick with me.

The sermon was taken from Ecclesiastes 1 which is a pretty depressing chapter in the Bible. Feel free to go ahead and read it for yourself. The main point is summed up in verses 2-3 which says:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?

Are you encouraged yet? 🙂

Actually, Dr. Wittmer’s next words were extremely encouraging. He asked why we’re working so hard. He said that as soon as we do a task it will need to be done again. The dishes will need washing AGAIN. The laundry will need to be folded AGAIN. The lawn will need to be mowed AGAIN. The house will need to be repaired AGAIN.

We work and work, gathering a neverending cycle of stuff and it’s never enough. We try to attain a certain item, a certain status, or for our kids to reach a certain accomplishment and as soon as we get there we aren’t satisfied. We simply raise the bar even higher.

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?!?

We’re pushing ourselves harder and harder in an attempt to prove to the world (or to ourselves) how smart, or strong, or valuable we are. But we forget that our value can’t get any higher or lower. It is fixed. And our value doesn’t have anything to do with our accomplishments or lack thereof. Our value is in Christ.

So, whether our lives are filled with changing diapers, teaching kids to put their dirty laundry in the hamper, or preaching to a large crowd, our lives matter the same amount. We may think no one cares about us or the seemingly meager things we do in our lives but God cares. And our families care as well.

So What, Homeschool Mom?

So, how does this apply to us, homeschool moms?

Whether our kids are exceedingly smart and enter college at age 12 or if they don’t graduate from our homeschool until they’re 20, our value as homeschool moms doesn’t change. As long as we have given our lives over to Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord, the details of what happens in our lives will not make us any more or less special.

And whether our kids grow up to become ditch diggers or astronauts, their value doesn’t change either. We don’t have to run ourselves or our kids ragged, always striving to do more, to have more, or to be more.

Believe me, the struggle is real. And most of us will find ourselves here at one time or another. So, what do we do if we feel disappointed or disillusioned by what is or isn’t happening in our homeschools?

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Here are 5 Ways to Turn Things Around When Homeschooling Falls Short of Expectations:

1 – Check Our Expectations

Are we expecting too much from ourselves or from our children? Do we think that homeschooling should solve all of our child’s problems? Are we comparing our situation to someone else’s? It’s important for us to run our own race. When we compare ourselves to other people, we tend to compare their best traits to our worst.

We need to stop pushing ourselves and our kids so hard that we’re both miserable. Every day of homeschooling won’t be an amazing experience. And that’s okay.

2 – Look for the Good

Let’s face it. There are plenty of negative things that will happen during our lifetimes. And it’s easy for the hard stuff to make us feel disappointed or overwhelmed. But when we focus on the bad stuff too often, we actually train our brains to see the hard stuff more than the good.

Fortunately, it is possible to retrain our minds when this happens. We should make an effort to see the good and to enjoy it! And for us to help our kids learn to see the good as well.

→ Related Content: Where is our Focus?

It’s important to remember that we aren’t in control of anywhere near as much as we think we are. We can only control how we respond to what happens to us. We also can’t control other people’s responses. So, it’s important for us to try to accept whatever happens and just deal with things one day at a time.

Worrying and complaining won’t do any good and we can make ourselves sick by doing them.

4 – Remember What’s Important

Sometimes those homeschool lessons and teacher’s manuals can be real tyrants. We can be knee-deep in making sure our kids are dual-enrolled in college classes, are reading 20 books a month, and are eating plenty of vegetables. But we neglect to make sure that they have time to nurture their spiritual lives or their character. And we can ruin our relationship with our kids by being too tough on them.

We have to choose our battles. And we must be intentional about setting our priorities so that someday we don’t wake up to find that our highly educated kids want nothing to do with us – or with God.

When Homeschooling Falls Short of Expectations (And 5 Ways to Turn Things Around!)

5 – Enjoy the Journey

If we want our kids to look back with fondness at their homeschool days, we need to be intentional about making them enjoyable. Every lesson won’t necessarily be fun. But as homeschoolers, we have the flexibility to sprinkle interesting and enjoyable experiences into each day. Let’s do what it takes to not only help our kids love learning but for us to love learning as well. Remember, if you aren’t enjoying homeschooling your kids aren’t enjoying it either.

If homeschooling hasn’t been living up to your expectations and you need some homeschool encouragement, there’s hope. This year, as we read the same picture book for the 5,000th time, or listen to the groans of our kids as we say it’s time to start our lessons we must remember that our lives don’t have to be filled with “amazing” achievements to be special. With the right perspective, we can make homeschooling a more pleasant experience for ourselves and for our kids.

When Homeschooling Falls Short of Expectations: And 5 Ways to Turn Things Around!

7 thoughts on “When Homeschooling Falls Short of Expectations (And 5 Ways to Turn Things Around!)”

  1. Aaaaamen. Two of the best people I’ve ever known were janitors their whole careers. One of the most horrid people i know has a Ph.D. in neuroscience.

    “It ain’t what ya do, it’s the way that ya do it” as the old Sy Oliver song goes. Not sure if that was quite his point, but it reminds me.

    This was a great post and just what i needed as we start week three of our homeschool year! The ten year old is having a hard time buckling down, it’s hot, we’ve had a long hard summer of plumbing emergencies and my kitchen is still ripped up, and i am already feeling the “ughhhhh, only 15 more years until the last one is grown up…”

    God bless you for what you do!!!

    1. Thank-you for your kind words. And I love that phrase! I’ll have to look up that song. I’m not familiar with it. 🙂

      So glad I was able to be an encouragement to you. Sounds like you’ve had one of those crazy summers and it’s definitely going to be important to adjust your expectations a bit. At least at first. Enjoy those kiddos and hang in there!

  2. Hi Michelle
    This is a great post, thank you. We are half way through our school year here in New Zealand but as you will know you face the same issues and emotions whatever time of the homeschooling year. Recently my sister and her family were in a bad car accident but thankfully they are all ok apart from my brother in law fracturing his back. Last year he nearly died with a mystery illness that had him in a coma. There’s nothing like nearly losing loved ones that reminds you of what is important in life and just how short life can be.
    So I have learnt from this that if we need a field trip day for family bonding or a creative day then that is ok. We have to enjoy this special journey with our children and they will still grow up to be the wonderful person God has created them to be. God will direct their paths and it is not our role to worry about every detail but trust in God.
    Thank you for your reminders.

    1. It’s always so good to hear from you, Fiona! I’m so sorry for the difficult family stuff you’ve had to face. But when we go through those hard situations, they definitely help to clear our thinking and to help us get our priorities straight. My brother was murdered when he was 20 and I was 23. It was awful! But that experience made us appreciate each day and better love our family members because you’re right. Life is short and can be extremely short. We never know. I think your kids will grow up to be even better people because of the time you spend bonding and being creative with them. Take care! 🙂

      1. Michelle I am so sorry to hear about your brother, that is truly devastating. That must have been such a horrendous time for you and your family.
        How good it is to hear though that it has made your family close and appreciate life.
        Take care and many blessings to you.
        And yes bonding and building close relationships with our children is so important.

  3. Great point! “But we forget that our value can’t get any higher or lower. It is fixed. And our value doesn’t have anything to do with our accomplishments or lack thereof. Our value is in Christ.”

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