Now we were at 8 weeks. The process was slower because we applied right before Christmas break, which meant for two weeks everyone was on vacation.
My youngest son’s SAT scores did not automatically qualify him for admission to his top choice of universities. Homeschooled students who aren’t automatically admitted each go through an individual review process where a committee looks at high school grades, extra-curricular activities and awards, and recommendation letters. After touring the campus in November and learning about the program he was interested in, he became more and more excited about the prospect of going to this particular university.
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 beautiful letters of language (the nerve of Algebra!).
On top of that he decided to take College Algebra as a dual-enrollment class at our local junior college. Because his SAT math score was 20 points less than they required, he would have to take the TSI to see if he was ready. He did pass—by two points.
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 is homeschooling success?
Let me give you a picture of my two sons.
My oldest son is smart and loyal. He LOVES history and is working hard to reach his goal of becoming a history professor some day. He is on track to graduate in 3 1/2 years and plans to go straight into working on his Masters degree. Recently he started working at a local grocery store and plans on renting a house with a friend soon. Always ready with a smile, he is the type of young man that thinks to ask me how my day is going, how work was, or just how I’m doing. Dogs love him, and anyone who knows dogs will trust their judgment when it comes to people!
My youngest son has a witty sense of humor and has the ability to really see others and care about them. He is a peacemaker. I love that he worked hard at his college algebra course, often late into the evening, even though he doesn’t like it. It seems everyone who gets to know him likes him. He is fun and kind with a little sarcasm thrown in to keep you on your toes. He wants to write—perhaps in social media management or a related field.
And both of my boys love the Lord and their church, their family and friends.
Neither one of them is perfect. I don’t know what their GPA will be when they finish college. I don’t know if either of them will have the highest paying careers. I don’t know what the future holds at all. One thing I do know though: I am proud of each of them. Today. Right now.
And I love them.
I can’t define homeschooling success for you. I can’t tell you what it looks like exactly. But for some reason as we reach the end of our homeschooling journey, I believe it has been successful for us. And it is successful not because a test score showed it to be.
What is the Standard?
Standardized tests do not measure all types of intelligences. They don’t know how creative your children are, their ability to interact with others, 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.
Do I Trust God?
Yes. I choose to trust God even when I don’t feel like it, even when I can’t see why certain things happen. I choose to not because of anything in me. I choose to trust because of Who He is. He is faithful. He is good. He is sovereign. He is just. He is righteous.
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.
I surely didn’t do it perfectly. That isn’t even possible considering I’m human with limited wisdom, understanding, and that pesky sin nature. I’m completely imperfect. But the great thing about God is He is in the business of redemption. He redeems my feeble attempts to follow Him. He redeems my mistakes, failures, and regrets.
I choose to trust that God knew exactly what He was doing all these years. And I choose to trust that He is working all things together for good—for my children and for me.
There is no Formula for Success
And please know this: there is not a 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. So will your children.
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!
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 Rest of our Story (For Now)
There was a happy ending to my youngest son’s story. He was accepted to the university he wanted to go to, earned an 86 in his College Algebra course, and even received a scholarship to help some with tuition to the university he will attend in the fall. I breathed a sigh of relief.
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 God’s 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.
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