Unlike most other careers, homeschooling doesn’t come with built-in assessments for teachers. Some homeschoolers are required to meet with teachers and these meetings may help gauge progress. But many home educators don’t have that requirement. So, how can we assess our progress as homeschool moms?
I’m going to take a different approach than you might expect and use this Scripture as a framework:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
What does it mean to act justly as a homeschool mom? I think it means two things. First, we have to obey the homeschool laws of our state. If we are to provide a certain number of hours of education, a homeschool plan, and work samples – even if we do not have to turn these in to anyone, we ought to be above reproach. If we aren’t homeschooling in such a way that we would be confident having our homeschool evaluated, then we need to change. What grade would you give yourself in the legal requirements of homeschooling? If it’s not an A, what can you do to improve? If you need help, Google how to meet the homeschool requirements of your state or ask a veteran homeschooler in your community. Often, we make the requirements seem insurmountable in our minds when they’re usually not a big deal. If you have everything in order, you’ll feel so much more confident in your homeschooling.
The second thing that acting justly as a homeschool mom encompasses is providing the best education for your child. After a call from God, this is why I started homeschooling. I believed it was the best education I could provide for my children. Are you giving your children the best in terms of:
- A school schedule
- Your teaching approach
- Involvement with others?
We would do well to ask ourselves these questions for each of our children regularly. What grade would you give yourself? How can you improve the grade?
It’s also wise to discuss these issues with our children. My kids often give me excellent feedback and ideas for ways to improve. I’m not talking about complaining, but constructive suggestions. Next, discuss them with your spouse or another family member who is involved in your homeschooling. What suggestions do they have for improvement? Finally, ask other homeschoolers. It’s been so gratifying to see worn-out moms have new inspiration after asking the women in HomeschoolScopes for advice.
God requires us to act justly in our homeschools by abiding by the law and providing the best education we can. He also requires that we love mercy. A short path to discouragement is expecting our children to get everything right and to do so quickly. They should learn everything we give them and love it. Assignments and chores should be completed immediately and perfectly. There should be no conflict with you or with their siblings. Anything short of that means they are failures and so are we.
Good teachers are firm. They do not allow a child to shirk their responsibilities or to behave disrespectfully without consequence. But they are also merciful. They know their children are immature. They know they will make many of the same mistakes they made as children, even though they wish they wouldn’t.
A merciful homeschooler preserves the relationship with her child. I have had very stern teachers in my life. I didn’t like them. I didn’t want to visit them as I grew older. We want our children to know that they are more important than their performance. My oldest son helped me see that I valued his outward behavior more than him as a person. Because I did, we had serious problems in our homeschool. I was failing. When I focused on mercy and love for him as a person, everything changed. I started getting A’s again.
There is a second important aspect to being a merciful homeschooler. That’s the mercy we extend to ourselves. Being compassionate and forgiving of our weaknesses and failings does not mean that we give up and settle for substandard homeschooling. On the contrary, mercy is most likely to help us succeed. If we have the highest standards for ourselves and are harsh in our assessment, we are more likely to quit. I hear from many homeschool moms who say they are failing and have to send their kids to school as a result. Good teachers don’t just say, “You have an F and you’re expelled.” They say, “I believe you can get this grade up and I’m going to help you.”
If you have struggled as a homeschool mom, I believe you can improve. If your home is in chaos, listen to the podcast episodes I did with FLYLady here and here. Comment on this post and tell me where you need help and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction. But extend mercy to yourself. His mercies are new every morning and so should ours be.
Walk humbly with your God.
Scripture also tells us that we are to walk humbly with our God. Somehow I went from not wanting to homeschool though God had called me to do it to not wanting to let my child go to school, though I believed God had called me to do that, too. I wasn’t walking humbly with God in my homeschooling.
Are you walking humbly? This means that our homeschooling isn’t about us. It’s not about our kids making us look good. It’s not about proving the naysayers wrong. It’s not about our identity. What grade would you give yourself in this area?
I worried what my blog readers would think if I sent my child to school. I worried about what my friends and family would think if my children didn’t turn out well because it would be a reflection on me. I was getting an F in this area, but I’ve improved a lot.
Are you walking with our God? I read an excellent book called Joining Jesus with our small group Bible study. The book’s point is that sharing the gospel isn’t about memorizing a script or forcing yourself to have a deep theological discussion with someone you’ve just met. It’s about joining Jesus in what He’s already doing in people’s lives. Our homeschooling journey is the same.
God was already at work, preparing my son to go to public school. It was up to me to join Him in that journey. Thankfully, I did and we experienced a number of blessings as a result. You can read more about that here.
We can’t walk humbly with our God unless we are with our God. Our desire, our focus, and our time have to be on Him through prayer and the Word. I know when I’m going through the motions of prayer and Bible reading. You do, too. I’ve had times I was earning a failing grade in this area. It was obvious because I was failing in other areas, too. Getting an A in walking with our God has nothing to do with law. It doesn’t require devotions at a certain time of day, for a certain length of time, or using a certain program. Just as we know when we have our children’s hearts, God knows when He has ours.
If we’ve wandered away, we can confess it and come home to Him. Take a moment right now to pray. Ask Him for forgiveness and a word of blessing and encouragement. He loves you so much, regardless of the grades you’re getting as a homeschool mom. He longs to lift the burdens you’ve been carrying–if only you’d ask. I’m praying for you to have joy in your homeschool journey. With God’s help and provision, you can be a grade-A homeschool mom. On the days when you fail, you have God’s forgiveness, comfort, and encouragement to start again.
Download this progress report and make a plan for improvement now.
What will you do to raise your grade as a homeschool mom? Let’s chat about it on Facebook.