April 2, 2010

Testing 1 2 3

Wow. I can hardly believe in 6 short weeks we'll be graduating our 3rd son....not only that, but today is his 18th birthday!
In many ways I still feel like an 18 year old myself. Vulnerable. Nervous about the future. Not quite sure how to do what I'm doing; I'm still just bumbling along.
Another part of me feels like I'm older than kerosene... my husband and I have almost 99 years of living between us! (Now that's scary.)
Anyway-like I said, in 6 weeks we'll be completing our 19th year of homeschooling. For those of you who are just beginning, I'd like to say, if I can do it, anybody can! I'd also like to re-post something I wrote a couple years ago:

Testing 1 2 3

Right around the middle of March, every year, it hits me. It happens every spring. Weariness. Hope. Guilt. Fear. Joy. Pride. Doubt. Apprehension. A really mixed bag of emotions. As the school year runs down I find myself trotting along, fumes as my fuel. I look at the school year that is winding down and evaluate it. I look ahead to the next year and am excited about starting
all over. A whole, fresh, new school year!
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.

1 comment:

  1. I love this!

    I think about my levels of confidence at the different stages through the years. Now I wonder how I could have had the confidence to even think I could homeschool back then; yet now I have proof of God's faithfulness and the knowledge that only experience can bring. Now I homeschool knowing I absolutely can not do it...it is only by God's grace and trusting Him to provide every ounce of strength and the resources needed.


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