What the heck do thumbprints have to do with homeschooling?
Well, think about what you know about thumbprints. They are unique to everyone; no two people have the same thumbprint. My thumbprint is different from my mother’s thumbprint. My child’s thumbprint is different from my thumbprint. Even identical twins have unique thumbprints. Like snowflakes, God has made each of us unique with both a unique thumbprint and unique purpose.
Your homeschool is like your thumbprint. It is unique; there are no two homeschools that are the same. Your homeschool is a conglomeration of your personality, your spouse’s personality, your children’s personalities, your faith, and the specific plans God has for you. Two families can be using the same curriculum, have the same theological beliefs, be of similar family structures and similar personality temperaments, yet their schools will still function very differently.
This “uniqueness” is important to remember when interacting with other homeschooling families. You see, there is a game we homeschoolers play when we are out and about with other homeschoolers. It’s called, “Let’s Secretly Compare”. And while learning from others can be a good thing, comparing yourself to others can be harmful.
We homeschool parents only want the best for our kids, right? So if there is a superior math curriculum out there then you can bet we want to use it! If a certain reading program enabled my neighbor’s son Jeffy to read at age three, then certainly our family needs to consider switching reading programs to the one that brilliant Little Jeffy uses because I want my child to be brilliant too!
And what about those hands-on activities? Our children need to be well-rounded, right? When you were studying the Roman Empire did you only read books about it? Or did you make your own togas, put on the play, Julius Caesar, for the neighborhood, and create an authentic ancient Roman feast (using recipe cards all written in Latin?) Because if you didn’t do the latter, then, my friend, you are a homeschool loser. Really??? No, of course you are not!!! You don’t need to make Caesar’s favorite cucumber and lentil salad to be a good homeschooling parent. So stop comparing yourself to others!
Me, I love to read and I love to act. So I used to read aloud to my kids. All. The. Time. And I didn’t just read aloud, I read with voices and inflections and emotion! I was a regular radio drama queen. Believe it or not, I still read out loud to my kids (when they are all around and when they will let me, which isn’t often, because they are almost all grown adults). BUT! I am NOT good at being super-crafty and creative. I didn’t make authentic, historical meals with the kids. And I hated doing science projects because I didn’t want to deal with the time and the mess involved.
Often, I felt discouraged for not doing these types of fun things with them more frequently. Instead of looking at the things I did well, I chose to only look at the things I didn’t do well. (Really, I looked at things that others did well and wished I could be them) But that little pity party didn’t do me or my kids any darn good.
I have a friend, Mary, who is my opposite in personality. As much as I hate exploring outside, she absolutely loves it! She is THAT homeschool mom who would build an igloo in her living room if she could. She is THAT mom who would let her boys bring home all manner of arachnid as pets. BUT she did not often read aloud to her kids. Mary is an excellent homeschooling mom. I joke with her that if we joined forces our homeschool would be a mighty one to be reckoned with! So Mary is into igloos and I am into overly-dramatic novel reading. We are different! As different as can be! But that doesn’t make one of us a better teacher than the other. It makes us each unique!
We are individual homeschooling thumbprints. God knows our strengths and talents, and he wants us to use the gifts he gave us to the best of our ability in raising our children. He doesn’t want us always looking over our shoulder at the other guy, comparing our family to theirs. So, if you are playing the “Compare Game”, stop it!
Psalm 139:13-16 English Standard Version (ESV)
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
Embrace the unique thumbprint God has etched on your homeschool. Put protective blinders on your eyes to keep from falling into the comparison trap! God has equipped you with all you need to teach your children, love your children, and love your spouse. Your thumbprint is divinely beautiful!