For the first several years we home schooled it was very easy for me to spend the spring and summer months either beating myself up over the school year we'd just completed, or surrendering to the feelings of just knowing I was a failure. Those feelings of inadequacy really hit me as testing time drew near. I was convinced that I was the one being tested, not my kids.
I'd think about all the time I'd wasted. All the projects we'd never touched. All the strange interruptions to our school days. All the things the boys didn't learn......
Now I have 2 graduates under my belt. They both hold down full time jobs. One is also a missionary downtown and the other a full time college student. They both love the Lord. They can even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and change the oil on their cars. Knowing that, no, they're not perfect, but they have some intelligence, they can fend for themselves, and they love others and the Lord makes it so much easier to relax and I have more confidence than I used to.
However, along the way the Lord used other things to encourage me and to let me know we were "O.K." and my kids wouldn't end up living in a cardboard box someday.
One thing that really helped me get past those negative feelings was to start each year with 4 goals for each boy. (Jessica Hulcey and Carole Thaxton of KONOS curriculum suggested doing this and it really helped!) During the summer Mike and I would sit down and look at each of our sons and evaluate where his character/relationship with the Lord was at, where he was at academically, then physically, and what work skills needed improvement. As an example, when our oldest son was 7 these were the goals we had for him:
Character: showing respect toward his parents and other adults
Academics: neat handwriting, spelling and better math skills
Physical: morning exercises
Work skills: begin doing his own laundry, clean the bathroom, dusting, and helping with dishes
Then, in the spring I'd look at the goals we'd laid out and see if we'd even come close to hitting the mark. There were some years where we'd see improvement in each area and other times the goals were repeated the following fall.
We'd also remind ourselves of the following:
1. We'd seen academic improvement.
2. The boys had matured over the course of the school year.
3. We knew the boys were safe both emotionally and spiritually.
Those three things happened every year.
If you were here, and weary, and just a tad nervous about how you're doing as a teacher, I'd tell you these things:
- Just because you feel like a failure doesn't mean you failed. Go back to those last 3 things and re-read them.
-Even if your kids come back with a low test score in one subject or more, relax. Chances are, next year they will improve by leaps and bounds in those areas. We saw this happen with the boys more than once.
-No matter what kind of teacher you are and no matter what kind of school year you've had, it's a given that there will be gaps. You need to surrender your concerns and weak spots to the Lord and ask Him to fill in the gaps. He is faithful. He will do it.
-Remember Colossians 3:23-24
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.