Expectations.  We all have them.  We have them for our marriage, our homemaking, parenting and our homeschooling.  Though the dictionary tells us that expectations are the things we hope for, or consider most likely to happen, I find that more often than not, expectations are uncommunicated hopes.  We hold to an idea, and yet because we don’t communicate it, it doesn’t come to fruition and our hopes are dashed.

For example, we can have expectations on our spouse.  From our perspective we expect something to happen, it seems to us the most likely thing to happen – and yet we don’t communicate that and our spouse is thinking differently.  What we expected to happen doesn’t and we feel let down.  We then call this false expectations – but I’m not sure that the expectation was false – it just wasn’t communicated.

This can happen to us with our homeschooling too.  We set our expectations based on

  • Our beliefs – I believe my kids should enjoy books.  I believe everyone has an opinion.  I believe in parental rights.  I believe everyone can learn.
  • Our experiences – I personally love books.  I have an opinion – people around me have an opinion.  Parents have always been the final say.  I have seen the light switch on for people when they learn something.  School is my experience.
  • Our dreams – I have read about people who love books, share opinions and learn together.  I have a picture of it in my head.  It is a dream, a goal for my family to be like that.
  • Other people’s expectations (beliefs, experiences, dreams) – other people may believe school is the best model for learning, they understand university learning, other people did it a certain way and see that as normal.

Expectations aren’t wrong – uncommunicated ones are. Tweet this!

At this time of year when we start to reflect back and consider our success as a homeschooler for 2012 and looking forward with our plans for 2013 it is a really good opportunity to consider our expectations.

Unmet expectations will make us think we haven’t done too well throughout the year.

Uncommunicated (or thought through) expectations will make us set unrealistic goals for next year.

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copyright www.123rf.com

Expectations need to not only be communicated, but broken down and turned into practical, doable goals.  If we leave an idea as an expectation without turning into a goal we will never achieve it – and yet, we will still judge ourselves by it.

For example:

  • I have the hope, dream, expectation that my kids will love learning.  This will never just happen.  I need to break it down and work towards that happening.  I need to make sure that learning is happening in my life, that our home environment is stimulating, and that I recognise individual bents and work with them not against them.
  • I have the hope, dream, expectation that my kids will learn to express their opinion.  This will never just happen – not with respect and tolerance unless we work on it.  I need to make sure that I bring topics to discuss to the table, and equally make sure that all my children get to express themselves and one child doesn’t hog the conversation.
  • I have the hope, dream, expectation that my kids will jump in and meet needs.  This will never happen because left to themselves kids are generally selfish in their focus.  So I need to make sure that I give them the skills to help others and help them develop a love for other people.  I can give them practice by pointing out needs and prompting them to meet them.
  • I have the hope, dream, expectation that my kids will read good books throughout the year and that they will learn from what they read.  This will never happen unless I help them choose good books and unless I give them the skill of reading to learn.

Before we set our plans for 2013, we need to give some serious thought to what are our expectations for homeschooling, what are our expectations for the coming year for each of our children and then let our plans be what we need to walk towards that.

There is the issue of false expectations we need to consider as well.  When you decided to homeschool what were your expectations?  What did you hope for, what did you consider likely to happen?

You may well have discovered that there were indeed some false expectations – they were built on false thinking and unrealistic dreams.  Have you replaced those ideas with something else or are you wafting in no-man’s land not sure of what to replace them with?  When we don’t have any expectations we stop being intentional – we waft and we are pushed around by everyone else’s expectations:  be it our spouse, our extended family, our friends, the homeschool community or the community at large.

Expectations – be false, met or unmet – will have a bit impact on how we assess our success for 2012 and how we plan for success in 2013.   We need to acknowledge our expectations to ourselves, discuss them with our spouse, pray over them, tweak them, and set goals toward meeting real honest true expectations – this way, our hopes and dreams may well show fruit in season.