No Child Left Behind

No, I’m not getting political.  Rather I’m being reflective.

You see, I feel this school year was in many ways a failure.  It was a tough year.  “Joy” wouldn’t be a word I would use as a common characteristic of the year.  Though I had planned a very academic year, as we plowed through the work load, somewhere along the way we lost momentum. Add health problems and a crazy travel season (with Schoolhouse Publishing) to the mix.  Joy was no longer our fuel, and we limped through to the finish line.  Our “highly academic” year ended up being highly deficient.

Why?

What did I do wrong?  (Have you ever had a year like that?)

Okay. So.  Here’s where I went wrong.

I caved.  I gave into peer pressure.  I saw all the cool things others were doing, and became convinced I had to do the same.  I’m not sure when I began to believe “the lie.”  It was subtle.  Many of my friends, after much prayer, have embraced various classical programs – very rigorous and highly academic.  The things their kids were accomplishing were amazing.  Their sisterhood was compelling.  It was (and is) the right thing to do – for THEIR families.

Sharing Science

I began to compare MY curriculum choices and outcomes…and felt lacking.  Inadequacy began to creep in.  My confidence slipped.  Though I didn’t actually join a classical co-op (I knew it would be death to my dyslexic son), I did incorporate some of those curriculum choices into my year. I conformed my uniquely made kids and our uniquely made family into a “standardized” mold called “classical.” I tried to make my homeschool look like others. And I swallowed the lie that “academic” defined meant “classical education and all that it includes.”

Please don’t read into this anything I’m not saying.  Classical education may be God’s will for your family.  But, what if you child is dyslexic or a kinesthetic learner or musically gifted or is being called to be a housewife/mom or…or…or…

Despite political platitudes, children will always be left behind in a classroom setting.  The very nature of the “beast” necessitates standardization, which means to fit every child into the same mold.  In a traditional school setting, kids aren’t individuals but members of a class. Only in a homeschool setting will no child be left behind.

And, I forgot that.  I was guilted, by my own pathetic desire to fit in, into standardizing my homeschool to look like all the other “successful” ones out there – forgetting that mine was successful – perfect for MY family.  The funny thing was I only veered off course a little bit.  I still wanted Bible and character development to be a large part of my curriculum, and I’ve always emphasized academics.  But, as a very wise friend shared with me, even a one degree change in navigation will result in totally missing the mark .

So this year, despite what many of my friends are doing and how amazing their school year may be, I’m doing my own thing.  I don’t know what it’ll look like yet.  I’m still praying about that.  But, whatever it is, it’ll be right for us, for the precious treasures (my children) God has entrusted to me.

If you find yourself in a similar place, let me end by sharing with you a few other things I learned.

Sisters – Growing Together

1.  This year was NOT a loss.  Hard lessons learned are always good!  The kids grew in character as they learned to deal with unpleasant curriculum choices.  And they did learn.  Remember:  “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”  (Proverbs 19:21)  Despite my failure, God’s purposes stood.

2.  A less-than-stellar year is not the end of the world or even of their academic career.  Believe me.  Your kids will be fine – because you cannot thwart God’s plans for them. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Remember how much God loves you.

3.  I have hope!  I am NOT going to repeat these mistakes – at least not today.  I have learned and have grown.  “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (Lamentation 3:21-24)

Now it’s your turn.  Did you have a less-than-stellar year?  What lessons did you learn?  Please take time to share it here!  We need each other!

 

4 thoughts on “No Child Left Behind

  1. Thank you for your honesty! Wow…I am reading your book Homeschooling Super mom Not! and I am so convicted and just love love love the book. But I have to say hearing you be so open and real about your school year is helping me to breath! I mean the book is challenging me right where I am at and it is just beautifully written and I love it, but I am on the chapter on patience and it is so convicting that I want to cry. I feel like such a failure and yet have hope that the Lord can help me with this. But reading this post is helping me to relax, go slow, breath and take it one day at a time. I was feeling so challenged that mixed with a lot of other stresses in our lives at this time I wanted to just give up. Thank you for showing me we are always growing, and that it is okay to not be perfect! I want to be set free from impatience and have a gentle and sweet spirit. I will by the Lord’s strength keep going, keep fighting the battle!! Thank you, thank you for writing the book and the post! You are an inspiration in your rawness and realness. God bless you and yours.

  2. Hi Susan, I was blessed by this July 1st blog. It is comforting to know that someone who has your experience still caves in to peer pressure and comparing. I’ve struggled most of my homeschooling years with the “ideal” that I’ve heard about and seen at conventions and within the homeschool movement. It’s only been within the last couple years through much disappointment and wanting to quit that I’ve begun to accept our family and be okay with us. I also wanted to let you know that I got your book and bible study and have been slowly working my way through it and I love it! It is encouraging, challenging and thoughtful. Also, I want to thank your husband for getting back to me so quickly. I called with a question yesterday and he called me back within a couple hours.

  3. I just saw this quote today and I thought you would find it interesting in light of what you shared. It’s from the book Norms and Nobility, the classic text arguing the case for the classical model.

    “Having now had an opportunity to study schools as a headmaster as well as a teacher, I would argue that the teacher, not the curriculum, needs to be the focus of reform.” – David V. Hicks, in the 1990 preface of Norms & Nobility

    I also struggle with curriculum choices so much, all the while neglecting to recognize the fact that my influence as a teacher is much more important than any curriculum, co-op, or group I join.

    • I completely agree! Obviously it wasn’t my curriculum choice or educational method that was wrong – it was me. Classical education, or Charlotte Mason, or kinesthetic curriculum, or traditional textbooks, or an eclectic assortment of the above don’t make or break the homeschool. They are all great choices. In my case, it was me and my heart that needed adjustment. Thanks for sharing!

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