Sunday, May 29, 2011

Homeschool Failure - A Heavenly Vision

"I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision."
Acts 26:19

Many eager new homeschool mothers, like the one described below, excitedly anticipate and plan for the start of their child’s first year of homeschool. This particular mother, to which many of us can so easily relate, spent month after month researching the many homeschooling methods, attending book fairs, as well as deciding which homeschool support group to join, what extracurricular activities to engage in and which curricula to order. In August, she made her first school supply trip to Wally’s World, rounding one corner to face a spectacular aisle full of lined paper, bright crayons, and themed notebooks for every subject. After she filled her cart and making these purchases, she ran home to find a beautiful big brown box sitting on her porch. While attempting to rip open the box, wrapped securely in many layers of packing tape, she scampered off hurriedly to find the scissors. After finally opening the box she reached in and pulled out various crisp new textbooks wrapped tightly in cellophane. She tore open the wrappers and flipped through each book, envisioning the excited look of her child as he completes each day of assignments with joy and excitement.

After surveying her treasures, she sat down one evening after another mapping out the lessons plans that would strategically guide her every move. She thoroughly studied the teacher’s guides and made countless notes as to how to teach each and every lesson. Upon the completion of her first few months of lesson plans, she felt satisfied. She was confident in the important decisions she had made and in her preparedness for the year ahead.

On the first day of school, this new homeschool mother carefully prepared a nutritious meal fit for her little scholar. After breakfast and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, she carefully placed her pristine and meticulously prepared lessons plans on her desk and arranged the school workbooks and tools on the desk of her child.

A few months later, as the schedule set in and the feeling of drudgery loomed overhead, she surveyed the damage. Before her stood a laundry pile that was close to the size of Mount Everest. She could not remember the last time her family ate a meal that was not brought in from outside world. The rooms in the house needed to be vacuumed and dusted, the dishes needed to be washed, the bathrooms needed to be cleaned. Frankly, the house work was overwhelming and out of control.

On the academic side of things, she had discovered that her child was slow in learning to read. He often seemed distracted and did not want to remain still for very long. Academically, he seemed much better off when he had been enrolled in the local school, and the house was certainly more intact and clean when she did not face the distraction of homeschooling. Maybe she should just throw in the towel, admitting her failure, and send him back to a school where teachers were more qualified to teach and instruct him, and which allowed her to accomplish simple daily tasks without constant distractions and interruptions.

Oswald Chambers once said, “At the beginning we saw the vision but did not wait for it. We rushed into the practical work and when the vision was fulfilled, we did not see it.” Did this mother formulate good plans? In some ways, yes, she did. She planned the academic work and extracurricular activities with a vision in mind, but she failed to prepare a detailed vision of the end result of years of homeschooling. She focused on the struggle of the here and now, attentive to the bullet points on her list of practicalities, rather than pushing forward while relying on a documented long-range vision of success.

She really was making progress, but she failed to see the progress she was making, because she was rushing around, worrying that she was not able to check off what she viewed as being most important to a well-rounded education. She failed to keep her eyes fixated on the finish line, for which she should have been aiming all along.

Successful execution of a mission, such as home educating your children, demands a resolute and unwavering vision driven by goals. When the goals are established and a method for accomplishing them is developed, the goals create a vision which motivates and sets a finish line for which to aim.

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