Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ten Rules for Staying Mentally Strong

As I was saying yesterday, the end of the year is a challenging time for mom. It's hard to keep body and soul together. This week I will be sharing my own 10 Rules for Staying Mentally Strong through the ups and downs of homeschooling. Think of yourself as an athlete. You have to do more than pay attention to the game you're playing. You need to keep yourself mentally sharp.

Rule #1:

Believe It's Possible.

Yes, you can do this. Studies show that homeschoolers are, on average, scoring about 30 percentage points higher than their public school peers on standardized tests. That's an average. If you work hard throughout your year and bring your students to each new skill and concept as they are ready, they will likely do better overall than they would if they were in a classroom. There's nothing magical about it. The tutorial mode of teaching has always been more efficient and more effective. When a public school student has been out of the classroom and has fallen behind, a tutor helps the student catch up. When a college student is struggling with a class, the usual remedy is a tutor. Often these tutors are not traditional teachers. Sometimes they are fellow students. Our son Ben has a job tutoring other students at the University of South Carolina.

I know you have your faults and weaknesses. So do I. But we are not SO inept that we are THAT far behind the average homeschooling family. If you are doing your job to the best of your ability, everything is going to be fine. Really, it is. Trust me on this one. I have counseled dozens of homeschooling families. In the ones where Mom is earnestly doing her personal best, the kids are learning and growing. At a minimum, they are keeping pace with their public school friends, and getting some special benefits from learning at home. In addition to this, most homeschooled students are above average in areas of special interests or giftedness.

Could you do better? Sure. We always can improve. You should try to learn from your experience and do a more effective job each year. But keep in mind that most homeschooling moms feel inadequate. Even the best ones. Remember my article from yesterday? I felt like a failure at times. The reality was that we were successful. Both my sons earned four year scholarships to the colleges of their choice. One was an AP Scholar and the other was a National Merit Scholar. But I never felt on top of it all. Never. Sometimes, I felt that things were running smoothly. We had many experiences of sheer joy. We had seasons where it was wonderful. At other times, I felt sorry for them. I believed I had made a mistake. This up-and-down nature of homeschooling can wipe you out if you don't know it's coming and don't understand what's happening to you.

Let's put it this way: if you are still home, if you are still on the job, if you haven't left for a dream career, and it's the end of the year, you won the game. If you are like the rest of us, you probably didn't get everything done that you thought should be done, and you can see a lot of things that need work. Don't fret over it now when you are tired. There will be time for all of that later. For now, just cross the finish line. Let the clock run out. Hold fast to the score you have. When it's over, get some rest.


Author's Note: For my "10 Rules for Staying Mentally Strong," I am indebteded to Dr. Bob Rotella for the original idea of presenting these concepts. I realized that these important guidelines for homeschoolers could be packaged in this way when I was recently reading his article, 10 Rules for How to Win Your Major, in the June 2009 issue of Golf Digest. Basically, this is my take on keeping the homeschool mom mentally fit for her best game.

1 comment:

  1. found your blog via teacherperson's xanga. great stuff here. i'll definitely be back for lots more encouragement. thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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