As the close of our homeschool year approaches, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our successes and failures. In our three years of homeschooling, what components did our good days have in common? What components did our bad days lack? What ultimately led to our success as a homeschool family? These were the questions I asked myself.
During this reflection, I’ve come to realize our success didn’t depend on finishing every curriculum down to the letter. We didn’t. Nor was it defined by my children acing all their assessments. They didn’t. And it certainly didn’t rely on my being the perfect homeschool teacher. I wasn’t.
Instead, our homeschool success depended on maintaining the following virtues:
I’ve said before that a parent needs neither discipline nor patience to homeschool. What we truly need is the commitment to develop these virtues. A commitment to homeschool to the best of our ability. Why commitment? Because when we’re committed, we do whatever it takes to maintain loyalty to what we’re committed to. Yes, even grow in discipline, patience, and any other virtues we need to homeschool successfully.
I started homeschooling my boys by making a small commitment. About three years ago, I told myself we’ll commit to one year of homeschool and see how it goes. If the year went well, we’d continue to homeschool. If the year went poorly, we’d abort the mission.
During that trial year, there were many times I wanted to give up. But, I was committed to finishing the school year at the very least—no matter how badly I wanted to run to the nearest school and register my kids.
It took a series of commitments to finish the school year. I had to commit to giving homeschool my best shot. Commit to learning how to teach my sons. Commit to growing in patience. Commit to ignoring unsolicited opinions. Commit to making it work despite the odds against me.
Essentially, one commitment generated more commitment. In order to commit to becoming successful in one area, I had to commit to becoming successful in another.
Our vision is our focus. It defines our goals and carves our path. Whatever causes us to look to the right or left of that pathway will either slow us down or throw us off course. This lack of focus puts us at risk for doubt, comparison, and ultimately failure.
I remember when I started homeschooling my first year. I rarely participated in social media and didn’t belong to a homeschool group, so I didn’t know many other homeschoolers. I did my own thing, my ideas were original, and my children had a blast that year. Even better? I stayed in alignment with our homeschool vision, which was to foster a healthy relationship with learning.
Then, I started connecting with other homeschool families. I was so excited to see how big the homeschool community was. Not only were there hundreds of homeschooling families in my area, but there were thousands more on social media sharing their experience and wisdom.
Discovering the homeschool community was a great thing, of course. Until I allowed myself to compare my method with that of others. Slowly, but surely, I began to suck the fun right out of our homeschool by forcing other methods onto my children. In my quest to make them “smarter,” I’d forgotten about our vision.
If it weren’t for defining our vision in the first place, I’d still be forcing unsuccessful methods that made everyone miserable. Although I strayed from it, the vision was what pulled us back on course and inspired us to continue to homeschool in a way that was most authentic to our family.
Ah, doing something despite how difficult it may be. I bet we can all raise our hand and say that homeschooling is not easy. It will take perseverance to keep us going when we want to give up. Trust me, there’ll be a time you’ll want to give up, if it hasn’t happened already.
One day, I was going through my old tablet notes and came across a familiar post. The title? “I Give Up.” Yep, on March 20th, 2015, I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit homeschool. I just moved to an unfamiliar town, I didn’t know anyone, I had frustrated finances, and I was totally burned-out.
What’s funny? All the reasons I listed for wanting to give up were temporary. I eventually became very familiar with the town I lived in and all the resources it had to offer. I eventually met other homeschool moms and made great connections. Our financial condition eventually changed, and my burn-out didn’t last forever.
I’m so glad I didn’t make a life-changing decision based on temporary circumstances and emotions. I’ve learned part of perseverance is knowing that our current condition is just temporary. If we can just hold on a little longer, we’ll eventually see the progress—and success—we’ve been hoping for.
I’m so glad you stopped by! Any thoughts on this post? Let us know in the comments!
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