Asalamu’alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies, I hope you had a beautiful Ramadan and E’id with your families. We’re just recovering from a virus, bronchitis and I personally seem to have lost my voice in the midst of it all, alhamdulillah a’la kulli haal! But I’ve been wanting to share this post for some time now because I feel like it’s an important one to touch on; finishing the end of the school year strong.
Because it’s around this time of the year that you might start to come across other mamas in their last quarter of the school year giving it their final push.
Pictures of finished textbooks, completed assignments and general feelings of accomplishment might start to flood your feed. Facebook finales, Instagram end of year reels and pat on the back podcasts pop up all around us.
And before I go on, this is WONDERFUL for the sister finishing the end of school year strong, we should feel happy for our fellow sisters accomplishments.
But what about the mother whose faced with a pile of textbooks that barely reached the middle mark, who didn’t meet those targets she set so excitedly at the start of the year, who seems daunted by the prospect of a new year, scared she’s failing her kids because she can’t seem to fit it all in, and feels weakened by juggling it all. The one who feels weakened and not strong at all.
Well, this post is for you sis.
Let me start off by reassuring you, you’re not alone.
Just because the ‘unfinished’ stuff isn’t shared as much, it doesn’t mean to say everyone else is finished except you. Quite the opposite! Many of us don’t quite get to everything, finish it all, or reach as far as we’d hoped because planning and execution are two different things. We plan for the year but Allah Azzawajal is the Best of Planners and sometimes we might not meet all those expectations for one reason or another.
So sis, don’t compare yourself to someones outcome when only you know your journey. And I don’t mean this in a way to make you feel better for a moment, I genuinely mean this. I say this here because often the phrase ‘don’t compare’ can make us become complacent in where we are which isn’t the goal because feeling inspired by someone who is ahead is a good thing and we should strive to be better and do things with excellence. But rather I’m coming from the angle of knowing that your homeschool is unique and so how things will pan out for you will be unique too.
So if you need to, take time out, log off social media, put the curriculum research on hold for a moment if you have to and really just digest YOUR year first. Several months of homeschooling in and out, even if you’ve taken a long chunk off is still a lot. As mothers, there really isn’t ever a day off because even if the books get put aside, parenting can’t can it? So before you look for that finishing line, look how far you’ve come. Acknowledging both mountainous leaps and baby steps is important to keep us going and motivated to continue in sha Allah and one year where things didn’t quite go to plan isn’t a reflection of our entire homeschool journey!
Which brings me to the second point.
There are MANY factors which can lead to not quite finishing the end of school year strong. There are the bigger things like pregnancy and the fatigue that accompanies it, unexpected life change like loss of income, sickness, moving home. To the smaller things like over-scheduling to begin with, kids taking longer to understand concepts, lessons taking longer to get through than what the teacher guide suggested, to even losing motivation and taking off more time than you’d planned.
All of the above are very real factors of why we’re squinting to see that finish line. And that’s just to name a few! When we really dig deep it’s really not that surprising to see why we mightn’t have gotten it all done. As homeschoolers, our home, and school life are merged and so ‘life factors‘ will of course influence and shape how our homeschools run. It’s bound to happen to everyone in some form or another which is why flexibility and adapting is key to surviving right? But it’s often when these things really affect the consistency of our homeschool routine and little bits missed turn into chunks that even that flexibility seems a little too freeing.
So it’s important we take things as they are and we respond rather than just react. Because in a world where we are constantly told to ‘just take it in your stride’, ‘move on’ or don’t worry about it’ as a way to instantly feel better things this isn’t always easy to do. You might have even heard the infamous response to feeling behind in your homeschool…behind you?
But the reality is we can be behind according to OUR OWN STANDARDS and so these quick fix motivational quotes aren’t always that useful because they don’t get to the root of the problem by encouraging you to just move on.
So let’s talk solutions here. Because this is what will help us get to the root of what’s really going on in sha Allah. And that is reflection; a crucial part of the homeschool process.
Let me highlight that again, reflection; not dwelling and not ignoring.
Reflection reminds us to renew our intentions, keep our homeschools focused, think about what our children need to know as opposed to just bombarding them with it all, and truly appreciate that Allah has blessed us with our children whom we will be held accountable for. It’s a great responsibility and so it’s essential we reflect constantly so we can give it our best in sha Allah.
So if you’re feeling deflated by the unread books and blank pages, reflect on the WHY. We can often attribute unfinished things to laziness on our part but that isn’t always the case. And only you really know mama how your year went, and where your time and energy was spent; because what gets written down is only a snapshot of what you do right?
So be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. Don’t beat yourself up knowing that you spent that time following your child’s pace, tweaking curriculum for your kids, spending time in wholesome discussion rather than just whizzing onto the next page. And if you took a few too many days off, could have pushed yourself and the kids a little more, got busy doing other things/projects that it compromised your focused homeschool time, also be honest with yourself on potential changes you could make so you can give homeschooling the time it needs. We want to be able to feel confident knowing that we really are homeschooling according to our families needs, and we also want to make changes if they need to be made.
So reflect and then take things forward. We cannot change what has past but we can take lessons and move forward to really make positive change and wrap up our year on a more positive note in sha Allah even if it wasn’t quite where we expected it to be.
And finally, once you’ve reflected on why your year didn’t get to where you had plan start to jot down a plan of action based on those honest reflections.
So if you knew consistency wasn’t an issue in your homeschool but you intentionally decided to take lessons slower because your kids needed extra time, make a note that the curriculum will probably overspill (and thats fine!). Or if discussion is something your kids seem to really enjoy, but too much can make other things fall of track, you might want to create a dedicated ‘discussion time’ in your week where you get together with your favourite snacks and hold those wholesome conversations. Either way, whether something worked well or something needs tweaking, you’ve got a foundation for the upcoming year. The important bit here is not to feel deflated, but rather use where you are to get where you want to bi’idhnillah!
Because can all end of year ‘strong’ in some way or another in sha Allah. So chin up Mama and do what you need to do.