From Our House to Yours
Teach with Dependable Expectations
Have you ever worked for an employer whose expectations changed daily? Yesterday, you did one thing, and your boss thought it was great! But today, you did the same thing, and it was clear your boss didn’t think it was so great anymore. Each day you walk into work wondering how it will go. You feel like you never quite know how to hit the mark and be successful because your employer’s expectations are an ever-moving target. He says one thing but really means another.
You try to make mental notes on how to meet his expectations, but he changes his mind so much you might as well throw your mental notes out the window the very next day. If this goes on long enough, you give up trying. You even quit caring. Why try to meet the expectations of someone who is not dependable? Success is unattainable anyway, so it is just not worth the effort. If we don’t teach our children with dependable expectations, this could be their story too!
How Undependable Expectations Hurt
When our children cannot depend on our expectations of them in homeschooling, the quality of their work suffers. How would this look in your day-to-day teaching? Well, perhaps one week you said it was just fine to skip singing the hymn for Bible Study. Fast forward a month and you find your children have not sung the hymn since. You are upset, but they don’t understand why. It was fine last month. What changed?
Or, perhaps for a few weeks you said it was just fine to write super short narrations of just a sentence or two. Fast forward a month and you realize your children have been writing extremely short narrations ever since. You are upset, but they don’t understand why. It was fine before. What changed? Or, perhaps for awhile you skipped DITHOR projects, made grammar totally oral, accepted one shoddily-done vocabulary card, omitted copywork, shortened writing assignments, or accepted totally illegible misspelled writing. Now you realize this is not good. Skills are being lost, work is sub-par. You see the need for change, but your children do not. They might not even care anymore. More than likely, they will argue and bicker with you. Undependable expectations hurt everyone.
How Dependable Expectations Help
On the other hand, when our children can depend on our expectations of them in homeschooling, the quality of their work is better. There is also less bickering about what is expected. How would this look in your day-to-day teaching? Well, perhaps one day your children skipped singing their hymn. You are upset and point to the guide’s directions to sing the hymn, and then you sing it with them. Fast forward to the next day, your children contemplate skipping singing their hymn. However, they remember your response yesterday and decide to sing it instead.
Or, perhaps one day your children write a super short narration of just a sentence or two. You are upset and point to the guide’s directions to write 5-7 sentences, and you make sure they do it. Fast forward to the next week, your children contemplate writing a super short narration. However, they remember your earlier response and decide to write 5 sentences instead. You count the sentences as they read their narration aloud and compliment them on a job well done. They feel good about their work! They might even attempt 6 sentences next time.
Or, perhaps you consistently hold them accountable to complete their DITHOR projects; to write at least a portion of their grammar answers; to complete at least the minimum of the assigned vocabulary, copywork, and writing assignments; and to write legibly. You even expect good spelling and help them fix their errors. Now they realize you have dependable expectations. In fact, those expectations are so dependable they can be found right in the Heart of Dakota guide. Their work is good and getting better every day. Skills are being gained; progress is being made. You care enough to have dependable expectations, and therefore they care too. Dependable expectations help everyone.
But, what do you do when you’re running behind schedule?
But, what about those days when you get behind and need to catch up? Maybe you DID need to skip the hymn singing one day, or you wouldn’t have gotten your child with a fever to the doctor. Or, maybe you DID need to have your child do grammar orally one day, or you wouldn’t have been able to help your mom contact the credit card company about her lost credit card. Maybe you DID need to shorten a writing assignment one day, or you wouldn’t have been able to help your husband drop off his car to be fixed.
These one-off things do happen, and then it does make sense to partner with your children to help them still finish school within a reasonable amount of time. However, the difference is these changes in expectations are rare. They happen on the one-off day rather than on every day. Children know the difference. So, I just want to encourage you to make your average homeschool days be ones filled with dependable expectations. Let the Heart of Dakota guide be your partner in this! All of the dependable expectations are right there for both you and your children to see. They are my best ally for a successful homeschool day; they can be yours too!