SummaryJohn Clark says when we hit rough spots and consider quitting, remember that we homeschool to give our children a gift so great that it can never be repaid.
About this time every year, homeschooling families begin to receive their boxes of books. Also about this time every year, the negative thoughts can start.
“I am not achieving any of my homeschooling goals.”
When I was seven, I had two goals: first, marry Princess Leia; second, play shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. As I grew older, I realized goals can change, and that’s OK.
When you are making goals for homeschooling, make them realistic and achievable. And if you find that they are unrealistic and unachievable, change them. Also, don’t make just long-term goals; make daily goals as well. Someone should have told me this when I was seven.
Don’t focus so much on the major leagues at the moment: have a goal of fielding fifty ground balls today. If fifty is too many, field twenty-five. If twenty-five is too many, field ten. If ten is too many, field one. Just one. And if you can’t field even one today, that’s why God gives you a wonderful gift called “tomorrow.”
Homeschooling is no different. In homeschooling or anything else, achieving very big goals is the result of first achieving very small goals. And you don’t have to achieve them all today.
“This was the year I was going to be organized, and I failed.”
Many parents who quit homeschooling say the reason they quit was because “they weren’t organized enough.” Let me let you in on a little secret: that’s probably not why they quit. My guess is that only a few parents ever quit homeschooling because they couldn’t get organized, but lots of parents quit homeschooling because they thought that disorganization equaled failure.
Sometimes it’s helpful to read books and blogs and hear talks about organization, but sometimes those books and talks only serve to make us organizationally-challenged parents think we’re failing. If you regard organization as the most important aspect of homeschooling, and you can’t seem to get organized—you will eventually quit homeschooling. You just don’t want to fail any more.
Let me be blunt. There is only one real failure: Hell. And there is not a single soul in Hell who is there for the crime of disorganization. On the contrary, I believe that many saints will attain Heaven partly because their disorganized parents chose to homeschool them. Remember something when disorganization and chaos tempt you to quit: the theological virtues are faith, hope, and charity—not faith, hope, and organization.
Look, I’d like to be more organized. I’d also like to be three inches taller, have bigger biceps, and be able to cook bacon on the stove without burning it. But I have my own unique strengths and weaknesses. So do you. I admire people who are organized, just as I admire people who can make perfect bacon on their stoves.
By all means, make some effort to be organized, but be patient with yourself. And for those of you who are great at homeschooling and believe that your success is due to your organization prowess, start giving yourself a little more credit—your greatest success is not because of your organization; it’s because you love your kids.
“My kids don’t seem to care what they’re learning.”
Many people don’t recognize the greatness of a gift until long after they receive it. Think about your own life: When you were seven years old, did you realize the sweetness of the gift of Holy Communion? When you received your first sacramental absolution, did you break into tears pondering the enormity of God’s mercy? Falling in love with God takes time. Be patient with your children, just as God has been patient with you.
We homeschooling parents teach our children more about God every day. That’s a gift for everyone involved. In fact, today’s communication of God’s love is a gift to both giver and receiver that neither giver nor receiver can fully comprehend. And tomorrow is a new opportunity to increase that knowledge and love. As Frank Sheed wrote in Theology and Sanity,
“if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more from knowing more about Him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving Him.”
In teaching your children about God, you are giving them a gift that is so great that it can never be repaid—only passed on to future generations. Try to remember that when you’re tempted to quit.