Feeling-BehindSo, last June, at the HEAV Convention, you saw these neat books with all kinds of activities and you thought, “Oh wow! The kids would really love these, and we would learn so much, and enjoy it, too!”


So you bought one and pre-ordered one that wasn’t in print yet and then spent a good bit of the summer planning how you would use them, making sure you had the materials on hand–or at least knew where to get them–and when September came, you dove right in! And the books really were great, and the children loved them, and you told all the moms you knew, “We’re using such-and-such this year and really loving it!”


But then October came. And the baby spent the night in the hospital with croup. And kids got sick. And you didn’t use the books every week. But it was okay, because you could always catch up. Except life kept happening (in our case a move to another state over the Christmas holidays!) and now it’s February, and out of the fifteen chapters in the book, you’ve done three, and out of all those great activities, you’ve done six.


And you are wondering if maybe you should just scrap the whole thing and wait until next year…or never.


You’re wondering if you’ll ever learn how to make realistic lesson plans that don’t leave you behind only six weeks into the school year.


In fact, maybe the kids should just go to school, because this never happens to a “real” teacher.


Take heart, Mama! It does happen to “real” teachers. And your instincts were right–these are good books for your crew. No, you will never learn to write realistic lesson plans, because life is what it is–and that’s actually a good thing.


Say what?


Yup! Ambitious, over-achieving lesson plans are a good thing.  As long as we realize that they are just plans and not certainties, ambitious lessons help us to strive to be all that we have been called to be!


You see, we need something to strive for in order to really do our best. Ambitious goals keep us from falling into a “least common denominator” approach to schooling, and a little pressure helps us to perform our part of the education process with determination.


School teachers in public or private schools receive their goals from their principals or the state requirements. As homeschoolers, we have to set the goals ourselves, and one of the ways we do that is by writing lesson plans out of enthusiasm. We often know–even as we are writing them–that we won’t be able to do every experiment in the science book (as cool as they look). But, by planning for them, we ensure that we will do at least some of them and we feed our own enthusiasm for teaching the subject.


I find that this kind of ambitious scheduling is particularly important in the midst of the cold winter months. Seasonal depression makes me generally ambivalent about many things, and having lessons plans that were written during a time when I was enthusiastic gives me enough of a push to ensure that we do complete our work instead of waiting until there is more sunshine and Mama feels more like doing school! I don’t have to think about what to do, but I can look in the planner, see where we are, and spend mental energy on teaching the lesson, doing the experiment or project, and keeping the peace in a houseful of energetic children.


Ambitious lesson plans are a way of capturing the enthusiasm and excitement of the beginning of a project, which enables us to carry it through to the end. As we write plans, we are also writing down our hopes and dreams for our children and giving ourselves a tangible reminder of how important we do find their education to be. In a sense, an ambitious lesson plan is an attempt to put our desires into practice, and–while we may not achieve all that we have planned–our plans help us to achieve much more than we would without them.


So take heart! It may have been rather colder and snowier this year than expected, and every subject may be “behind,” but your lesson plans are still good, and your enthusiasm will return. Put in the effort, stay cheerful, and let the pressure you are feeling bring you through in joy.


Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.