Hi, today I am going talk to you about comparing. This is a trap that many home educating parents fall into and there is a reason for that, but I am here today to take you on a little journey to show you that firstly I do understand why parents fall into this “trap.” I call it that because that is what it is, we should not be there, it is actually dangerous and does not do any good.
Let me begin by identifying why it is that you fall into this trap. It is because of the reference that you have. I am sure the huge majority of people watching this have themselves not been home educated. So I am talking to the majority, yes there are those that were home educated and they are now parents that are home educating their own children. They are going to be less inclined to fall into the trap. But for the majority of you who weren’t home educated, your reference is that of school. Of classrooms, lots of children, lots of teachers, and peers, and now you as parents are going to home educate your children. You have a mother and a father and perhaps the father’s school experience was private schooling and the mother was government school, or one was boarding and the other walked down to the local school, or whatever it might be, in these instances both mother and father were in some form of school institution.
With home education it is not that anymore it is home, not a school building. Perhaps both mother and father do not have a reference of education taking place in the home, so that your tendency is to reference to where your education took place and that was in a school building. So very often parents try to replicate that in their home, but your home is not a school building, it is a home, a loving environment where you have chosen to educate your children.
So let me take you through a few pictures for us to realise this is where our reference has been and how it needs to change, so that you can see that you have been inclined to compare.
(Sonja then shows a series of schools starting with a country school, then the more traditional school buildings, then a picture of African children learning under a tree, then a rural school in a small village, a picture of desks and then a more modern one with cubicles with computers, libraries, school busses or perhaps even school closed signs because of snow or heat.)
These references are all in our minds in one form or another and we tend to fall back on these. I actually think it is quite important to change that reference and get a whole new imagery about what home education is all about, because you have actually taken your children out of that system and brought them out of that way of doing things, into your home where you are going to teach them and raise them. So you are bringing them out of the masses, to a place where you are going to teach them individually and so there is no point in comparing how your own schooling was with what you are doing now, or comparing them with children in your neighbourhood.
You are trying to compare apples with pears, if you are trying to compare home education with schooling, there is no point in comparing them because they are offering different things, an apple and a banana have different nutritional values, you cannot compare them. Yes, they are both fruit as home schooling and traditional schooling are both forms of education but you cannot compare them, there is no point. There is no point in trying to make a banana into an apple, you can’t do that. It is not possible, so lets get way from that trap.
So consider a school of fish and consider those “School Closed” signs and then consider that you as parents are always educating your children, all hours of the week, you don’t stop being a parent.
It might be that you used to take your children to school and for part of the day, somebody else was teaching your children. But now you have them at home and you are open all week, all hours of the day, throughout the year, so the picture has immediately changed. It is no longer a school building, it is your home.
Let us take that a little further. Some people are going to commit a room in their home to be the place where home education takes place, but I would prefer to say use you whole home, wherever you are, be it the kitchen, or sitting at the table having a meal or where-ever you are. Your entire world becomes the classroom, the garden, the garage when a project is happening, so I would prefer you take classroom out of your thinking and out of your reference when you are home educating your family.
In our instance we had a little pathway that led us out to this little cabin in the garden, that we used when we wanted to be separated a little. Some people like to separate a little and there is a danger in that ,if you are trying to copy the school reference in your mind. However I do understand that separation does work for some families.
We had this little cabin in the garden and that is where we went for the purpose, not of creating a classroom, but more for the purpose of setting aside a quiet place where we would not be interrupted by phones, visitors, comings and goings. We could focus on our Bible study there and arts and crafts and really enjoy having some focussed time together. That was the focus of us spending sometime of our learning day in the cabin, your home library might be there. You can start with a few books and slowly expand . Your classroom will look very different and it might even be the children working on their beds, you might not have desks, or perhaps they will be sitting outside at the picnic table working on their laptop, or whatever, but it is not the stereotype picture of rows of desks in one room. Maybe a little desk in the corner of the room, it depends on the individual and the student. Some children will like having their own corner and space in which to organise their learning.
I would like to encourage you to try not to create too much separation, even as your children get older. I have heard some parents say that when their oldest child got into young adult life, they became more and more separate from the family. That is perhaps part of growing up, but not to the extent where they close them selves off in their room, closing themselves off from the rest of the family. As our children were growing up I always tried to encourage the children to learn in the lounge where the rest of the family were or go into the garden, we had a place where we could put up hammocks up for the family. We used to go there to discuss what needed to be discussed, or have read aloud time there, or bible study time.
So you are looking at a picture, as a home educator with a mother reading to her children and working with them in their home, rather than a group of lots and lots of children working in a more formal setting.
To try and change this reference of the pictures that you might have in your head, of schooling as you remember it, I am going to show a series of pictures of a different kind (These are all on the video) . Pictures of children sitting colouring in on the kitchen table while you make the tea or cook, or even working on a project on that kitchen table. Another picture shows the family going out on a picnic and as I have mentioned before, learning happens everywhere when you are home educating, you cannot confine it to the building of the school or the classroom, it is happening all the time.
There is a big change that needs to take place in your thinking and the comparing has to stop. You cannot compare what is in your reference with what is going to happen at home, imagine pictures of a Dad teaching his children at the lakeside, children helping Mum plant seeds in the garden, or helping with the cooking, where learning is always taking place. Perhaps the family goes on tour and you might go to a foreign country where the children can learn about different cultures. In a completely different country.
If you have, perhaps a little girl staying at home helping with the new born baby, creating a special bond between them, that would not be happening at school, so please do not fall in to the trap of comparing.
Don’t try to compare your 8 year olds spelling, with that of another 8 year old. Maybe the other child has spelling tests every Friday and the spelling is really drilled and their spelling is really good, but you had a baby and possibly haven’t done all the spelling drill, so you fall into the trap of comparing. Please do not concern yourself with what the spelling abilities are, or are not, and what you are not doing. Rather look at what you are doing and achieving with the home education and stop comparing yourself with others that are doing something differently, it comes back to the apples and bananas. Don’t try and compare yourself with something that is different to what you are doing.
Another trap that parents fall into is when they start to think what they haven’t done because they had a bad day. For example the baby is sick and cried all day, or picture where you as the parent are bedridden, as happened own our case. Our children also spent days in hospital and I could have compared that and got into a panic because they weren’t doing formal lessons. Yet they were learning, valuable lessons, life lessons, that can’t possibly be put into the same category of cousins and friends sitting at school getting a different education. My own children’s education was not that, so I did not try and compare it to what it was not.
I want to try and help you not to make these mistakes, as it really isn’t helpful to you, or your children to do that. So let us talk a little more about those difficult days, and these are the days that you will be most inclined to fall into the comparing trap, concerning yourself that had the children been at school they would have done so much more, had more learning opportunities, there would have been a teacher teaching them, and you just could not do what you would have liked to do or cover with them that day. You had a sick baby or your little toddler had a bad day and you just could not get to the other children. It is these comparisons and the ‘what-if’s’ that I am trying to caution you against doing.
If you can release yourself from that thinking completely, the “What if they had been at school “ thinking, but rather look at your day and say, “OK today has not been a good day, so what are we going to do about it?” How are you going to cope and deal with difficult days with your children in a way that helps them to learn and grow in different ways, that they would not experience anywhere else? If we go back to the picture of both our children lying on the bed in hospital, I could easily have spent a lot of time concerning myself with what my children weren’t learning because we spent so many hospital days, but instead of thinking like that and falling into that trap I thought what are we learning here now, what is the most we can get out of this situation.
There are so, so many rewards in home education that we would otherwise be missing if our children weren’t with us. Someone else would be getting the benefit of being there when they reach a particular milestone, or reach a particular level, for example they can read that first reader to you and you were the one who taught them to do that. You can’t compare that.
Picture a little baby playing with some educational toys while the rest of the family are getting on with some project and how everyone stops to share the moment when the little baby is full of glee because he has been able to do something that he could not have done before. Those treasured moments are the ones I am talking about. Focus on that instead of comparing with something that is not, your children are not at school, so don’t try to compare with that.
Then there are the treasured moments when you suddenly get handed a bunch of daisies because there was time….I could talk so much about this topic of comparing but no matter how much I talk and how many pictures I show you, I am never going to be able to show you this as well as if I share with you the Word of God.
2 Corinthians 10:12 :-
But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely. AMP
That is what the Word of God says, so that is plainly put.
Psalm 40:5 :-
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You! AMP
So if we are going to talk about comparing let us talk abut comparing ourselves with Christ, lets talk about our children and seeing where they are falling short, how can we help them to grow more and more and more into His image because that is what he asked us for.
So if you are going to compare with anything, move your comparisons from what was, and is no longer, to what God wants you to do. He wants you to compare yourself to Him and grow in His ways and that is going to be a lifelong work, to grow in that. The other comparing is just destructive, that is what I have witnessed it to be.
Proverbs 3 :15
Skilful and Godly Wisdom is more precious than rubies; And nothing you can wish for compares with her – Amp
How can I add to that? I cannot say anything more.
This short production, has I hope, moved your thinking and comparing from where it was to where it has the most importance and value and that is in The Word of God. That is the only place we need to look to, to make comparisons. Godly wisdom is more precious than anything else and we find that in His Word.