Saturday, May 23, 2009

Staying Mentally Strong: #4 Be Selective

I have received more advice about raising my children and homeschooling them than I have in any other arena. Most of it was given to me with good intentions. I have to admit, it's nice that people care enough to take the time to give me feedback, an encouraging word, or a helpful tidbit that could make things better. I am grateful that others wish me well and want to see me succeed. I wouldn't want to miss out on the warmth, the love, the fellowship.

Here is the funny thing: I could not have possibly implemented all those suggestions in one lifetime. First of all, the advice doesn't all fit together. Use a boxed curriculum. Use no curriculum. Use the school's curriculum. Send them to prep school. Send them to Christian school. Send them to public school, even if it's only for one class. Use a schedule. Don't schedule anything. Try unschooling. Have you heard of Charlotte Mason? The problem is you need to get that house clean. Don't worry about the house. Those children need to do more chores. You're trying to be too perfect. You're being too professional. You're not a professional. You're not qualified for this. Don't worry about qualifications. You should not be doing any of it. They should be doing it all for themselves.

As I said, one lifetime is not enough.

Let's compare all that advice to a curriculum fair or a homeschool convention. What happens at the curriculum fairs? Each vendor promotes a particular product or approach or technique. At a convention, each speaker offers advice and a particular approach to teaching. You can't use it all. You need things that will fit your family. Your job at the fair or convention is to find the products, approaches, and techniques that will work for your children.

That's a good way to view advice. Be selective. Ponder your situation, your children, your own personality. What really makes sense, given all these things? What is appropriate for who you are, who your children are, and what you family is like? I have seen many different homeschools which were successful. They all had one thing in common. They fit the people who were in them.

Here's the secret we shouldn't tell anyone. Much of the advice you get, you must ignore, if you are going to stay mentally strong. Select only the advice which is truly helpful. For the rest, appreciate the people who gave it, thank them, and file it away.

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