Recently, I got the toughest question that I have ever gotten. I have chewed on it since mid-January. Wonder what it is? Here it is:
How do I know when I’ve failed at homeschooling?
Tough one, huh? I think that this is a great question. Actually, this is a question that makes me want to jump in an airplane and head your way to give you a great big hug! It is the perfect theme for this issue of HSEW.
I love this question because I think that somewhere deep down, we ALL have this one! We will all find ourselves grappling with this one. We all will feel this way from time to time.
I have hit situations that were so tough that I wondered about my own success or failure as a mom. We all want to be a success and somewhere along the line, we will hit a tough time that really makes us look back and wonder if we have done all that we can or if we have been a success or failure. Sweet friend, you are NOT alone!
So, back to your question…
How would you know when you are failure?
To be honest, I think that your question alone tells me that you are not close to being a failure. Your question shows that you DO care. You ARE trying. You don’t want to be a failure. You are concerned about the outcome. Your relationship with your child really matters to you. That says mountains of words to me.
If you are still reading, I think we are safe to say that you are NOT a failure!
The greatest failure is when we quit and do not get back up and get going again. You are far, far from that. You have total control over that choice. I have a funny feeling that you have enough “fight” in you to fight for your child and keep pressing on whatever the cost. You are far, far, far from failure. Don’t let the enemy lie to you for even one moment.
He wants for all of us to believe his accusations. He always accuses us for things that we do and for things that we don’t do. He accuses us for how we do them–never quite enough, or maybe a little too much.
You can always discern the enemy’s voice. It is that voice cutting down your choices or casting doubt about your decisions or bringing up all of the horrible things that can result. It is that voice that tempts, yet condemns you for being tempted. It is that voice that whispers in your ear all along the way that you are defeated, worthless, messed up, beyond hope.
The great news is that God holds the truth. He holds the future. He sees where you are going and how it will all end up. You know what HE says about you and what you are doing? He says that you ARE victorious, you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. In fact, HIS Word says that the enemy is defeated, NOT YOU!
God cares about you, your child, and your homeschool. Work with Him. You will not only have success, but you will have great success. Sure, we will all mess up all along the way, but if we will dare to get back up each time and keep on moving, we can be assured that we will be victorious in all that we do, even homeschooling! Just never, ever stop! Never, ever give up. Never, ever quit. And, you will never, ever fail!
Motherhood is powerful. If there is one thing that can push any of us to our limits and back again, it is mothering. But, also, mothering is one thing that we do that is never completely done and never, ever over. You are never done. They never get too old to need their mama. Even when you die, your legacy goes on–mothering continues. Because of this, I truly believe that the story lives on. It is never over. So, my answer to you is that I do not believe that you ever arrive at a place where you are a failure and that is the final verdict. You always have another chance. You always have a new beginning.
Sure, you may have memories that are very painful. Your children may have memories that are very painful. You may have made mistakes that you never wanted to make. You may have said or done things that have hurt them. You may have missed things that you wanted to give them or teach them. But, all of those things do not make you a failure. They make you human! In fact, although none of us really wants to bomb, but when we do, we usher in the opportunity to live out the greatest lessons in life–forgiveness, showing grace to one another, and experiencing restoration! Those lessons give true preparation for life. Without learning them, WE all fail. So, isn’t it interesting that our failures open up the door to teach lessons that train our children to be truly successful.
I have bombed so many times. It is tough! But, ask my children what they love the most about me and they will probably tell you that I am REAL, HUMAN, transparent, authentic, and always ready to apologize, back-up, or eat my words. I have eaten more words than food. I have back-tracked more times that I have moved forward. I have had to get back up when it hurts so bad. But, this is life. This is REAL LIFE. This is one of the reasons that I believe homeschooling is so powerful–they get so much more than just academics, they get preparation for life.
Motherhood is tough. Motherhood opens up more opportunities to mess up than we will ever know, but there is good news– you are never, ever done. There really is another chance today. I know very few people who are so hard-hearted that they will not give their parents another chance. Those people do exist. However, almost everyone that I know would be open to a parent who shows repentance and wants restoration. It is never over. Just don’t ever quit on your children. Love them. Forgive them. Be real with them. Let them know that YOU struggle and need their prayers. Let them know that THEY matter more than all of the STUFF–homeschooling, their behaviour, their choices, their mistakes, their successes. Love. Love unconditionally. Love lavishly. 1 Corinthians 13 kinda love!
But, what if the problem IS academic? What if it seems to be academic? What if they don’t have what you think that they need?
This is another biggie. Moms are soooo hard on themselves, especially homeschool moms. Let’s face it, you have taken on the full responsibility of training them in every area of life. Actually, this IS the responsibility of every parent, but many shift that responsibility over to the government or schools. Although it doesn’t negate their ultimate responsibility, they still do not feel the pressures that you and I feel when we commit to homeschool.
I remember when I began homeschooling my children, I was immediately in overwhelm. Those feeings came and went all throughout the years. I know that I have expressed what led me there on many occasions, but you have to know what it was. I was so in awe with my children. They are both truly fabulous. I know that God has an amazing calling on their lives. They had so many abilities, capabilities, capacities just innate in them. Knowing that I had the responsibility to capitalize on those AND to strengthen their weaknesses was overwhelming at times. I know that our culture is very guilty of devaluing the child, but my struggle was in knowing how precious and valuable they were. I think that is your struggle as well. You and I know that right before us is a PERSON. A person who has a purpose. A person who is so precious to God that God gave His very best–His only son–for that child to have LIFE, ABUNDANT LIFE. That is huge!
Then, you are hit with teaching them all of these skills and introducing them to a wide and varied curriculum of studies over the years. That is just IMMENSE!
Sweet friend, I TOTALLY know the problem. I lived it. I still have days that I wish I could keep on teaching. In fact, the joke around here is that I NOW get to keep on teaching–the grandbabies! I am elated! I know that as my children have their own children and begin to teach and train them, we get to continue this journey. The good news is that what was not taught, what was not clear can now be part of the lessons that my children learn with their own children. God knows that there was plenty that *I* did not learn until I learned with my children. Who knows if this isn’t just the design that God has all along–a lifestyle of learning for ALL OF LIFE. I suspect that it HAS TO BE!
Wondering, “But, Cindy, how do I know that I have prepared them fully? What DO they need? How will I know that I am a success?”
Now, we are getting down to some of the most important questions that can ever be addressed about homeschooling. I love, love, love these!
How do you know that they are prepared fully?
I remember the night that I laid awake in my bed weeping and asking God this very question. My son was at Ft. Benning. They had given them their last calls home. They would not be allowed to call again until the weekend after they went down-range (transferred from Reception to Boot Camp). That would be a 2-3 minute call that flew faster than the speed of light. Even then, I left that call in tears for 3 days because he did not sound good–he sounded stressed out, beaten down. That call would be the last one until Boot Camp was over and it was time for Family Day.
I laid in bed with Matthew’s whole life flashing before me. We had really tried to make the most out of every day, but it had flown by just like a breath. Harold and I had taken so much time to teach both of our children as much as we could. We had let them loose to do things for themselves–to be sure that they could do it while we were there to help. But, that night, my mind raced through all of the things that he might need to know and whether I had covered it. My mind was racing. I was gripped by fear that he might have a whole somewhere that might be insurmountable.
Fast forward to this week. This week, Matthew and Whitney (his beloved wife) went with us on a trip to MS where we installed one of our playgrounds for Harold’s Alma Mater. It was a great opportunity for all of us to see family while we were there. It happened to be the week that Matthew was on the mic for our Utimate Homeschool Expo Preview Chats (he is one of our speakers for UHSE 2010). On the way, we had chatted about the topic that he taught, Graduated, Married, Got a Baby on the Way–NOW, What I Think about Homeschooling. He shared some amazing insights with me. (Stay tuned–I will share how you can hear this audio in just a bit!)
Funny thing, it was the lessons along the way that prepared him the very best for his call in life. Sure, the information taught has given him a great foundation, but there was more going on than just teaching the information. Much, much more!
During those Copywork lessons, Matthew was developing his character. He learned to be attentive to details. That lesson now may very well save his life when he is deployed to Afghanistan in another year. He was developing character that finishes WELL, with excellence. He was developing character that doesn’t question the validity of an assignment, but rather knows that there is more going on than just what meets the eye. He was learning how to make decisions and drive himself regardless of his feelings each morning. He was learning to do every assignment to the best of his ability–never slouching, never cutting corners, never grumbling. Those qualities and so many more that were developed across the curriculum have prepared him perfectly for whatever task that God brings along his path.
When Matthew got selected for Special Forces, it was after a grueling 3 weeks of “Selection.” He called me to tell me the great news and blew me away by praising me for all of the years I poured into him teaching and training him. One specific thing that he mentioned was how important it was for him to be self-directed, which he learned through the years as he became more and more self-educated. It began with letting him choose more and more of his copywork or topics of study and eventually moved into letting him plan his course of study in high school. Of course, now, he has the entire process transferred to him as he has the responsibility to hear God while directing his own home. THAT is where we are all heading.
So, when you do KNOW that they are prepared fully? You have to know that when you follow the Holy Spirit all along the way, they WILL be perfectly prepared. It may not make sense from time to time, but as the years go by, both of you will see how perfectly they were prepared. You will see things all along the way that are reaffirmations that you DID prepare them perfectly.
Will they know everything there is to know? No.
Will they have gaps of learning? Probably.
Will they be ready for everything that comes their way? Absolutely!
What they really need during these years is two-fold–
1. To develop a love of learning–for life!
2. To learn HOW to learn.
Children come into life with a passion for learning. They ask a million questions. They study EVERYTHING!
Now, they may seem to have their heads in the clouds at times and probably DO! That is a very, very good thing–they are thinking big and soaking in all that they can learn.
Most children are very enthusiastic about learning, but something happens along the way. Maybe it is frustration with not being able to learn on their own. Maybe it is exasperation at the constant interruptions to their learning so they can “learn” what is in our school planners. (Hummm) Maybe it is that we exchange real learning for chasing after the “typical scope and sequence” so we can prepare them for “college.” Somewhere along the way many children are left behind and a love of learning is discredited and long forgotten.
Problem is–if our children have do not have a love of learning, they can be given all of the skills in the world and yet never move forward. They can know how to learn, yet not choose to learn. They need both a love of learning AND skills to learn.
Those two things will help them all along the way. If they know how to learn, they can find answers to life’s questions. They will be ready for whatever comes their way.
With both a love of learning and the ability to learn all along the way, they can and will keep on learning for their entire life.
No, they won’t know everything. Only a fool thinks that they know everything. Only a fool thinks that they ever COULD know everything. The more that we know, the more we realize how much we do not know. That ambition to KNOW is exactly what got little Mrs. Eve in trouble in the Garden of Eden. It can lead us astray as well.
Our children will never know everything. But, I firmly believe that when we purpose to hear God all along the way, He is always faithful to lead, guide and direct us as we teach them. He will never leave us or forsake us–especially when we are homeschooling our precious children. He will take a personal interest in every detail–He did for us! And, failure is not an option!
That brings me back to the big question…
How WILL we know whether we are a failure or success?
Sweet friend, give it all that you have got! These days are very, very precious. I know that there are days that are very frustrating. I also remember all too well how tough it was to push through a difficult time whether instigated emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually, or academically. But, these days DO pass. They DO get it. They will not be where they are forever. In fact, in 6 months or a year, you will see a whole different challenge and these challenges will become successes that you will look back upon. That brings me back around to answer your question…
You WILL know! You will get past THIS. Things will not always be like they are. They WILL get it. They WILL move on. The trials of today will become the trophies of tomorrow. The tough times of today will become your story of deliverance and victory tomorrow.
Today, take some time to journal where they are. In fact, regularly pull aside and journal where they are, what they have accomplished, what they are struggling with, what they have overcome, what they are striving toward. Get it out regularly. Wonder why? Do it because I promise you will begin to see something amazing–you will see how fast things change. You will see how God delivers in big and little things. You will see how much is REALLY being accomplished. You will see that you ARE succeeding–bit-by-bit, struggle-by-struggle, lesson-by-lesson, skill-by-skill. And, you will KNOW that you are a success!
That is just it. Success at homeschooling is not from one day, one subject, one year. It is from the whole. Success is not about one area either–it is about all areas of life. You are doing so much more than providing them with an academic education. And, success in homeschooling is more than just the two of you–it includes the work that God is doing in both of you too.
I KNOW that you will succeed. I know that you will be victorious. How? Because God is with you. Just turn Him loose to be the Teacher. Kick back and enjoy the journey. Grab your pom-poms and cheer them on as they press toward the mark–that prize before us.
It won’t be very long and you will be looking back with a smile. You will see that all things, even these tough times, work together for good–for success. You will look back and see success and KNOW that you did not have a chance in the world to fail at this awesome call! Just keep on homeschooling…the easy way!
I love you dearly. Keep me posted. I will be praying all along the way!
“Come to ME, all you who labor and are heavy laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take MY YOKE upon you and learn OF ME, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief, ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For MY YOKE is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and MY BURDEN is light and easy to be borne.” Matthew 11: 28-30, The Amplified Bible
Need more help?
Oh! We are here to help you as you homeschool your treasures. We have a full line of great books and audios that can come alongside of you to help you as you step up to the call. Best news! If you have one on your wish list, you can grab it on sale at this link:
Also, did you see that I mentioned Matthew’s workshop from this past week? It is available online for you to listen to at your convenience. It was recorded for our Ultimate Homeschool Expo 2010–we are now on the countdown to Expo Week in just TEN WEEKS!! If you want to be sure to stay updated on all of our awesome workshops, hop over to our website and sign up for our updates. You can sign up here:
Also, you can hear Matthew’s workshop (and even get to know Whitney, his awesome wife) there at our site. Just look for the audio player and click the little drop down menu, look for his workshop, and click play. You will love it! It is the perfect follow-up to this issue of our ezine! ENJOY!
Want this article in an easy-to-print format? Sure! Here it is:
How Do I Know When I’ve Failed at Homeschooling?
Homeschooling? Don’t miss our Ultimate Homeschool Expo!
10 weeks of SUPER Workshops/Freebies/Fun/Fellowship!