As homeschooling moms it seems we constantly ask questions. Am I doing enough? Will my children be prepared when they graduate from our homeschool? What does “homeschooling success” look like?
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I’ve asked the questions, too…
My youngest son’s SAT scores did not automatically qualify him for admission to his top choice of universities. He would need to go through an individual review process where a committee looked at grades, extra-curricular activities, and recommendation letters. After 8 weeks we still had not heard anything.
So we waited.
And as we did I could feel my own anxiety begin to mount. It was his math scores I was concerned about—the ones on his score report where the College Board states “Your scores indicate you are close to being on track for college readiness, but you need to continue to strengthen your skills.”
Yes, dear College Board. We know. My youngest has never been a fan of math. He is a man of words and feels that math should definitely stick with numbers instead of hijacking his perfect letters of language (the nerve of Algebra!).
When uncertainty leads us to question…
And so I started questioning myself. “Why didn’t I push him harder in math? What if he can’t get into the college he wants? What if I have ruined his life?” (Ok, I didn’t stay on that one for long, but it did seriously cross my mind.)
It didn’t stop there, either. Although deep down I knew it was wrong, I began to question, “Were we successful in homeschooling if he isn’t equipped to go to the college he desires? What if I didn’t do a good enough job preparing him? What if I failed?”
My insecurities as a homeschooling mom surfaced. And just like Peter as he walked to Jesus on the water, my eyes were pulled toward the waves.
So I had to refocus and consider: How do I define homeschooling success? And more importantly, do I trust God, who led us to homeschooling, to accomplish His purposes in my son’s life?
What does homeschooling success look like?
I can’t define homeschooling success for you. I can’t tell you what it looks like exactly.
That may not be the answer you expected or wanted to hear. But through this journey, I’ve realized a few things about what success is NOT.
1. Homeschooling success isn’t a standardized test score.
Standardized tests do not measure all types of intelligences. They don’t evaluate how creative your children are, their ability to interact with others, or how they are able to make connections between subjects. Tests are a tool to use, yes. But they are truly not the standard. As Christians our standard is God alone, as He reveals Himself to us through His Word. And when we know God we are able to understand who we are and who are children are.
Tests do not reveal the character of your children. They don’t reveal how your children treat others, or how they make people laugh or feel encouraged.
Tests will never be able to show you how much your children try or love or forgive or celebrate life. They will never reveal who they are as people.
2. Homeschooling success isn’t attained by following a formula.
There is no homeschooling “formula” that guarantees your kids will turn out a certain way, with certain character traits, or anything else. Your children will make their own choices. Even as believers we will fight against our sin nature. And so will our children.
Yes, we are to be faithful stewards and do the best we can, relying on God, to provide an environment our children can grow and learn in. However, homeschooling your children will never be a guarantee. Remember, God is the perfect Father and His children don’t always make good choices. Praise God for His grace and mercy!
Related: How to Unlock Your Unique Child’s Heart
So even if your children aren’t making the choices you want them to make, even if they are struggling, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have homeschooled. (And remember, you have not seen the rest of their story, yet.)
The Best Question to Ask
Will I trust God in the process?
Do you believe that God led you to homeschool your children? If the answer is yes, then trust him in the process.
We can choose to trust God even when we don’t feel like it, even when we can’t see why certain things happen. We can choose to trust, not because of anything in us, but because of Who He is.
He is faithful. He is good. And He is sovereign.
I may have had moments where I questioned whether we should have homeschooled, moments when I felt like a failure. But deep down I know that God somehow led us to choose this path.
We don’t have to do it perfectly. That isn’t even possible considering our limited wisdom, understanding, and that pesky sin nature. We are completely imperfect. But the great thing about God is He is in the business of redemption. He redeems our feeble attempts to follow Him. He redeems our mistakes, failures, and regrets.
Let’s choose to trust that God knows exactly what He was doing. And that He is working all things together for good—for my children and for me.
Related: How to Fight Your Biggest Homeschooling Fear
The Rest of the Story (For Now)
There was a happy ending to my youngest son’s story. He was accepted to the university he applied to and is now in his sophomore year there. But I hope that even if it hadn’t worked out like we wanted, that I would still believe that God would work out His plan for my son—the one for my son’s good and His glory.
My children will never be defined by a test score. Our homeschool success can’t be reduced to a set of scores, or scholarship offers, or university acceptance letters.
Our God is bigger than that, and so are His children.
You did a great job of taking me along on your roller coaster ride, and I think it will prepare other homeschool parents well for it. I think we all go on it, but in the end as Christians, we have faith that God has a plan for our children and that He will provide.
What a great description: a roller coaster ride. Funny, a couple of days ago I rode 6 roller coasters in one day! (And realized at 48, one will pay for it the next day!). Homeschooling is a roller coaster, but what a thrill. In the end, I’d rather put my trust in God 🙂
Thank you so much for this post! It was beautiful and hope filled. I am at the beginning of our homeschool jour new and there are many days that I wonder if this is the best thing for us. There are hard days! But this is the path that God has chosen for us and I am so blessed to be home with this little guy! I pray that at the end I have your faith that whatever it looks like for us, it is a success.
Amy, thank you for your sweet words. How exciting (and yes hard at times!) the journey can be. But God always gives strength for what He has called us to do. Enjoy your little guy as you learn together 🙂 (I prayed for you and your son just now. May God give you wisdom and guidance in educating him, may you find joy throughout the journey, and may your relationship be close—even in his teen years!)
this was a sweet post to read. A good reminder to keep on the course set.
Thank you Annette!
I love this so much! I know that we all have these moments where we question if we are doing enough and I think that more than these questions being a sign that we are likely failing, they are instead one of the very reasons we do succeed, We are always trying to do better for them. To find new ways to teach to their learning styles. To help them find the strengths and opportunities that will best lead them toward a bright and successful future. We are trying to teach them the best we can and we are trying to follow God’s calling the best we can. And so in those moments, I lean on this scripture. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21
His purpose prevails. I believe in that! Sounds like you have done an amazing job!
Love that Gwen. What a great verse to focus on. Don’t know if “I” did an amazing job, but God is faithful and sovereign over it all. He is the One who redeems our mistakes. I’m thankful for the relationship I have with my sons and that they love Him 💛
great reminders for those of us still on the journey.
Thanks so much, Annette!
Kay, As a fellow veteran homeschooling mom, it was good to read your excellent advice. I could relate well to the feelings you expressed. It reminded me of a favorite quote of Elisabeth Elliot, “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” Thanks so much for sharing!
I love that quote! Thank YOU for sharing, Wendy!
Homeschooling is indeed a journey and, you are right, all along we only need to ask ONE question of ourselves…”am I trusting God?” Not only do we need to ask that in relation to our curricula choices, reading levels, college acceptance, etc but with the very lives of the precious babes we have dedicated years to raising. Great article. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you so much Katie!