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A few days ago I noticed a piece of paper which had fallen down behind the aquarium stand. I “fished” it out from between the stand and the wall to discover that it was the list of “reasons why we homeschool” which used to hang on the bulletin board above the aquarium.
It was wrinkled and showed signs of water damage on one corner. It was stained and dirty with a half dozen thumbtack holes and a handful of smudgy fingerprints. Misplaced, worn… it looks like I feel.
I haven’t exactly been 100% happy with our schooling for the past couple of years. To be fair, I have high expectations and set lofty goals. But to tell the truth, I’ve really struggled with maintaining a groove and adjusting to new growth. Who knew it was so hard for kids to grow up??
I have struggled with knowing how much to hang on to group learning and how much to assign independently. I’ve struggled with adding in extra-curriculars and activities which pull and tug at our daily schedule. I’ve struggled to balance chauffeuring our oldest to dual credit high school courses 30 minutes away, 2-3 times a week.
I miss the simpler days when we all sat around at home for hours, worked through a regular daily routine to get our school done, and spent a large portion of our school day doing group lessons together.
In fact, I’ve come to realize that a large portion of my dissatisfaction is pining for the past, and only a portion of it is valid discontent over struggles with time management and diligence.
So as I stood with this crinkled paper in my hand, I paused to read it over instead of simply re-tacking it on the board.
Boldly across the top ran the words “7 Reasons Why We Homeschool.”
#1 – So that we can fulfill the purpose we believe God has called us to. — CHECK.
#2 – Because I love my kids and want to spend time with them. — CHECK.
#3 – So that I can be directly involved in the teaching and education of my children and learn with them. — CHECK.
#4 – So that I can teach through a biblical worldview. — CHECK.
#5 – So that I can train my children’s hearts and character in addition to their minds. — CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!!
#6 – So we can tailor fit the education of each of our children to his or her strengths, needs, and interests. — CHECK!
#7 – To spend more time together as a family and nurture family relationships (making full advantage of the time and freedom that come with homeschooling.) – CHECK!
I read over the list again, and I half smiled to myself.
There isn’t a single “so we can raise academic prodigies who graduate years ahead of their time with the highest GPA you’ve ever seen” or anything of that sort. There’s no goal to complete every single curriculum we try, on time, or even at all. There’s no reason listed that says we homeschool so the kids can be proficient in calculus or biology or any specific subject matter. There’s nothing about schooling for a set number of hours a day day, or at the same time of day each day, or in the same way from week to week.
Sure, things have been less than perfect as we’ve adjusted to some changes,.. but we’ve succeeded in meeting our goals for the most part.
It’s true that we’ve started, stopped, and swapped math curriculum for Arielle, several times, trying to find something that works for her. And it’s true that I feel like she and I are just barely treading water in the math department right now. But I know that in the end, what she needs is to take the time to get the math before moving on, so that she can be as strong as she can be in that subject. And that’s “Reason #6” right there.
It’s true that Catie has spent less time doing school at home with us, and I’m worrying about gaps and things that have been missed, as she’s starting to tackle these college classes. But I also know that in the end, it will all be okay, these college classes will surely fill in any necessary gaps, and that her education in recent years has largely centered around her goal of becoming a graphic artist. She isn’t getting a cookie cutter education, she is getting an education tailored specifically for her. And that’s reasons number 3, 5, and 6.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. A handful of these realizations flashed through my brain in just one fleeting moment as I stared at that paper.
I am so hard on myself. And it’s not that we don’t always have room for improvement. We always do. But it helps to remember what you are aiming for. It helps to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Then perhaps, you might not feel quite so off target.
So the lost and forgotten paper has been restored to its proper place, as have I.
Do you need to remind yourself why you do what you do, too? Hang in there homeschool mamas. You’re doing fine.