As the school year winds down we homeschool moms like to look back and evaluate our accomplishments. We want to think about what worked and what didn't. What can we be proud of and what did we really mess up?
Our homeschool support group has a family meeting every month and this month we put on a homeschool showcase night where everyone could come show off some things that they had done this year. Surprisingly we had a pretty low turn out, but I think I know why.
One of the most difficult things about being a homeschool mom is feeling like you don't measure up. We read all the statistics about how homeschoolers have greater academic success than other schooled students, etc. and we feel the pressure because for some of us our kids aren't there, or anywhere close. Some of us have children with learning disorders and our celebration is that our child actually read a whole book by himself this year and he's in middle school (not that we'd share that with others because it might embarrass him [or me]). Some of us finally tackled a huge character issue in our kids or were confronted with another that we thought we handled pretty well (but again some things you can't share with others because it would embarrass your child). Some things we don't share because we don't want other homeschool families to know that we aren't perfect. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true and we know it. We shudder to think what some homeschool families might think if they knew some of the issues we were having with our kids. After all we're supposed to be set apart and different from those public school kids right? The truth is our children are still sinners and our enemy is very crafty. Homeschooling doesn't guarantee that our children (even as much as we shelter them) won't fall into sin, even sins we think our kids are immune to. Our response to those situations is what sets us apart.
And that's where I sit at the end of this school year. For our showcase I did manage to gather up some awards that my kids had accomplished this year, and a couple art projects. In reality though we didn't do a lot of hands on projects or cool history notebooks that we do some years. I wanted my children to feel like they had something to celebrate, but in reality it didn't seem like we had much to show for this year.
Quite honestly the last 5 months have been a time of testing and trials in our home. This Spring I felt like I had been put through the ringer and some days I was so discouraged that it took all I had to get up every morning and homeschool my children because I knew it was the right thing to do, not because I necessarily wanted to do it. I skipped over a lot of the cool hands-on projects we usually do because I just didn't want to expend the effort.
Do I feel like my children are worse off for having this kind of Spring? No, honestly I don't. I realized today that we did have something to showcase, but it's not something that everyone can see. We persevered this year, something that the Bible talks about a lot. A character trait certainly worth having. Even though most of the trials were aimed at me I know my children felt them too. You can tell when your parents are struggling, so my kids get a perseverance award too for putting up with a mother who was just trying to hold it all together for a while. And I am celebrating that I didn't quit, that I am stronger than I thought I was, that my God is an ever present help in times of trouble. I don't remember a lot of what we learned this year, and who knows where the kids would even test, but I am so proud of us. Proud that we are still a homeschool family and that we got through this together. I know we homeschoolers say it a lot, but the truth is whatever my kids learned academically this year is nothing compared to how they grew in their character. I know sometimes we homeschoolers throw that out there so much it sounds like a cliche, but there are some years that it holds more truth than others. I am sure that some of you can relate and have had a year where all you really have to display is perseverance (or some other character trait).