The New Year is a time for reflection and resolutions the world over, and it’s no different for us homeschooling moms. This week, I’m knee deep in the evaluation stage of things: How’s Charlie doing in Math? Does Molly Kate need to retake that SAT test for college entrance? How about Calvin; is he progressing? Will he ever learn to write? Maybe we need some new curriculum. That old program just doesn’t seem to be working…
That’s how it goes around here, and would that it stayed so simple. My next series of evaluations always turns inward: I’ve got to do a better job of record keeping. Putting Molly Kate’s transcript together was like doing archeology; it was a virtual historical dig in my attic. How can I revise my system and be better organized? And maybe the problem with Calvin isn’t the curriculum at all. Maybe the problem is his teacher – me!
One year during the evaluation stage I realized that my eldest son, Ian, had been skipping his Math assignments – for a year! You might wonder how this could happen. Well, it went something like this:
Me – How’s Math going?
That’s right folks. It’s the verbal check. He said it was going well; I believed him — and moved on! For a year! When my husband heard about this, he rolled his eyes and relieved me of all math responsibilities. Sigh.
The evaluation stage often leaves me feeling like a big, fat failure, and I know I’m not alone in this. A friend of mine, also a homeschool mom, often calls me singing this same sad tune. Her issue isn’t record keeping; it’s follow through. Although she begins each year with big plans and shiny new curricula, by Thanksgiving, she’s skipping days. Christmas break sets the tone for the New Year, and she despairs: My kids are going to be illiterates, she says to me. I’m a failure, she says to me.
I’m always grateful when she calls, because as I try to encourage her, I find that I’m the one really in need of encouragement. Here’s what I tell us: It’s good to see our deficiencies. Recognizing the problem is the first step toward fixing it. When we protest (…but I won’t fix it. I know myself. I’ve been trying harder to do better for 17 years, and I’m still the same. I think I’m stuck with me, and so are my poor kids.), I tell us that that’s okay because God gave us our kids on purpose. We, with all our gifts and deficiencies, are just what our kids need. Yep – even our deficiencies are a part of God’s gift of us to our children.
You might be asking how I can say this. Here’s a hint:
Psalm 76:10 reads, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise You…” and Romans 8:28 says, “and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Considering these two verses together, I gather that in His own secret counsel, God has ordained that everything we bring to the table will be used to further His good plans in the end. Even our sins work together for good in God’s sovereign economy.
Nothing is lost.