by Rebecca Kocsis
How do you define homeschool success? Probably the most obvious and easiest way would be to go back to your main reasons for homeschooling. Are you on your way to accomplishing them? Have you accomplished them? If so, then you might define that as success. Not necessarily.
Our main reason for homeschooling was to see that our children were saved and discipled. At the end of our 22-year homeschool experience, I can confidently say that all my children know the Lord and that they were discipled. You could call that homeschool success. Actually, it’s a huge victory!
The only thing is, I know that victory had very little to do with me being a gifted teacher or our exceptional parenting skills. I know how many times I fell short as a teacher. I remember very well my parenting fails. On our youngest child’s graduation day, we could only give all thanks and glory to God. It was by His grace, and His grace alone, that we made it to that graduation day with the knowledge that all my children were heaven-bound.
The road to that graduation day was a long one. Oftentimes it was hard. Sometimes it was bumpy. Some days I felt like we were having anything but success. One year my oldest told me she didn’t want to be homeschooled anymore and asked if she could please go back to “real school”. I did not feel very successful that entire year.
Here are some other ways you might think you should gauge success.
- Making it through your lesson plan
- Finishing your curriculum from cover to cover
- Hitting your target number of school days*
- Having quiet children. You’ve heard the saying, “Still waters run deep.” Quiet does not equal compliant. Do you really know what’s going on in that child’s head or heart?
I measure homeschool success not necessarily by the outcome, but by obedience; by faithfulness. Honestly, sometimes success is just showing up—out of sheer obedience—regardless of how you feel or what your circumstances are. Showing up regardless of whether your children appreciate what you are doing.
Yes, you can count it a success when you:
- Are only going through the motions. You showed up.
- Have very little mental energy. You showed up.
- Have no emotional energy. You showed up.
- Have no physical energy. You showed up—even if you were homeschooling on your back from the couch.
Some days success is going to be as basic as developing the routine of starting your days with devotions with your kids. For others, it will be just getting out of bed. Those of you who have struggled with depression or chronic illness will understand this. Success may be a day without losing your temper, albeit you white-knuckled your way through it.
If God has shown you this is what He wants for your family—and you’re still here? I count that a win.
Don’t misunderstand me. I loved homeschooling. Overall, it was a joy. We have so many sweet memories. It was a privilege to be able to disciple my children. Now we get to call them our friends, and we have a hand in discipling their children. We wouldn’t trade those years for the world. There were times, though, that it was really hard and I wanted to quit. The key to our homeschool success was simple dogged obedience, albeit in weakness and much imperfection, and then trusting God to keep His promises. We just didn’t give up.
Truth to tell, we have very little control over outcomes. Control is an illusion, and none of us really knows what God has in store for our children’s futures. It’s God who moves in their hearts. It’s His Spirit that leads them into repentance and obedience. He sovereignly knows what is required for them to realize they need a Savior. We can train our children—we must train our children—in God’s ways. That’s a command. But that’s really all we can do. Then we need to prayerfully trust the outcome to God.
If the outcome of homeschooling isn’t what you had hoped or were aiming at. Take heart. Your children’s story isn’t over. Just because you don’t see the fruit of your labor and faith in their lives yet, doesn’t mean you won’t. Just as the Lord isn’t finished with His sanctifying work in your lives, He’s not finished with theirs.
If you have been obedient to stay the course as God leads you, you have homeschool success. You can trust God with the outcome. It’s going to be worth it. You will never be sorry that you trusted the Lord.
For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 10:11 (NASB)
*In California, private home educators are subject to private school statutes. Private schools determine the minimum number of days of instruction they will require.