Putting Mistakes in Their Place

When I was a young, new, enthusiastic, homeschool mom I did some things right. I did some things wrong. Guess what? It doesn’t really matter. My kids don’t remember the mistakes I made. They also don’t remember when I was super-awesome.

Now that I am a seasoned homeschool mom (hey, I have grey hair proof that I am now allowed to call myself seasoned.) I do some things wrong. I do some things super-awesome. Guess what? It still doesn’t matter. My kids don’t need a mistake-less mom and neither do yours. In fact, I think my kids need a mom who makes mistakes, accepts them and moves on. How else will they learn how to move forward after their own mistakes?

Well, they do remember that one time when I got a bunch of workbook type curriculum and made them work through it. That lasted a quarter. (Thankfully I had the foresight to only buy a quarter’s worth of workbooks.) I felt at the time I needed those workbooks. Maybe I did, I was dealing with some health issues and certainly did not have the energy or brainpower to pull everything together myself as I had done in the past.

Thankfully I started feeling better and we all burned the finished workbooks with glee. Was it a mistake? I don’t know…it helped them appreciate that we don’t normally learn that way. It cemented in my mind why I don’t normally go with canned workbook type curriculum. But it also made teaching less intense for me for a few months. It made things streamlined and gave me a needed break from planning and creating.

If I was that sick again would I buy workbooks? No, not worth the pain or money. I would read aloud, assign real books, free writing time that I don’t plan to grade and will only look at if the child invites me to, and of course math. At this point in my life, it would just be Life of Fred for everyone, which it almost is already.

So yes, it could be called a mistake, because it is something I wouldn’t repeat. But if I hadn’t done that crazy workbook thing, would I know now that I don’t ever want to try it again for any reason? No, I wouldn’t.

What I am getting at is simply that we get too hung up on what didn’t work. Labeling a bunch of things mistakes, feeling guilty, and beating ourselves up over it. Homeschooling, like child-rearing, requires change, adaptation, and because of this a good amount of experimentation is involved. Not every failed experiment is a mistake. If it took Thomas Edison all those failed attempts to create a light bulb, how many more times, do we, as mothers need to fail in order to succeed in the great task of helping a human into being.

There is no magical manual or formula that can save us from this need for experimentation because we are humans teaching humans. We all have different selves, different kids, different needs, and different things happen to us.

We can take broad principles and use them as guiding lights and encouragement, but we cannot expect anyone but us to know exactly what we should do today. We also cannot expect ourselves to always know exactly what it is we need to do without a little trial and error.

I try not to look at things that did not work as mistakes or failures. They were just the piece of road I was walking along right then, and I continued walking, and I wouldn’t walk backward, but there really is no point in staring back at that piece of road and wishing I hadn’t walked it.

We can fail in our thinking, our attitudes, or our curriculum choices, but so what?

We can change our thinking in a split second. We can change our attitude in a heartbeat. We can change our curriculum when needed.

I am not perfect. Not a perfect mom, wife, teacher, or housekeeper. But I pour my whole self into all of those roles. I love my kids, my husband, learning, and a certain level of physical order in my home. (Enough order for peace and creativity to reign.)

This is the truth of success: Pouring yourself out every day.

Choose to humbly accept your own lack of perfection, by not dwelling on your mistakes. We naturally learn and grow from our mistakes, but only when we have that humble heart which accepts our own weaknesses without allowing them to limit us.

Take courage and don’t worry about your mistakes. Accept, change, grow, love and take the next step forward on the amazing path you have chosen for you and your family.

One Response

  1. […] I think giving mistakes any more attention than that gives them too much power. And giving mistakes too much energy takes that energy away from something else. I don’t know about you, but after this many years […]

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