My 17-year-old came home from her Anatomy & Physiology class today a bit disappointed in herself.
Apparently she had forgotten to pack a take home test that was to be turned in today. It was in a different folder left sitting on the kitchen table. Her teacher told Anna she could scan it and email it to her immediately after class.
This is a strict (but kind and generous) teacher with high expectations, but in this instance she extended grace because it was out of the ordinary for Anna to forget something. Anna was immensely thankful, and in her email to the teacher said, “Thank you for extending grace to me.”.
I began to get emotional (as I’ve been prone to do during Anna’s senior year), because it brought about a lot of feelings regarding our homeschool, and the experiences and changes we have had in our ten years on this journey.
This was my revelation: There are TWO essential ingredients of a successful homeschool - one we can control, and one we cannot - and those are extending and receiving grace, and the ability to see the need for and adapt to change.
Grace and change are the topics of this “What We’ve Been Up To” post because I have had a few big things hit me over the head this week that have shown me the need for grace and the inevitability of change!
Grace in the Homeschool
One constant in our homeschool has been the need for grace. I need grace. My children need grace.
We participate in a homeschool community where grace is modeled and lived.
Reflecting on our years of homeschool, let me encourage you. Extending grace to your own children, as well as modeling that extension of grace to others, will be one of the best investments you can make.
If your teenager has harsh words for you, extend grace and reply with words of love (or silence!). Your relationship is worth so much more than being right.
If you are receiving protests during a math lesson, extend grace. Give your child a hug, a dish of chocolate chips, and sit with them for a few minutes to encourage them in their lesson.
If you have a disagreement with another mom in your homeschool community, take a step back (and a deep breath), find a trusted friend to pray with you - and extend grace.
Most important of all, give YOURSELF grace.
You cannot do it all. You will not be perfect. Your children are not perfect.
Do you understand?
Grace wins. Every.single.time.
I know it is hard and contrary to our nature, but I have failed enough times at extending grace to know now that it IS the only option.
One of our favorite martyrs we have studied is Jim Elliot - I love his words:
“Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness.”
― Jim Elliot
Yes, these words apply to our faith in God, but I believe they apply to our relationship with others, and especially our relationships within our homeschool.
*Have you read Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace? It will inspire you.
Change in the Homeschool
My husband and I are constantly saying, “Bob & weave! Bob & Weave!”
Think of homeschooling as a boxing match - in order to survive you need to bob & weave! (Let’s hope your homeschool isn’t as combative as an actual boxing match, but you know what I mean!)
In our early days of homeschool I used to view the need to change as a weakness - a lack of poor planning on my part. If something wasn’t working, it was probably because of my action or inaction in that particular area.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Because homeschool is completely interwoven with our home life, things are constantly changing.
Saxon Math worked for us for many years, but as my children (my daughter, in particular) grew we needed to make a change. (But wasn’t Saxon the gold standard of math? What was wrong with my homeschool that it didn’t work for us?)
In 2013 I gave up a huge homeschool ideal - we had to CHANGE.
We changed Classical Conversations communities in 2016.
Our family needed to adjust when my mom was dying of cancer, when my dad was transitioning to Assisted Living, and again when my father-in-law passed away.
And here’s the thing about change: while it is painful and we sometimes go kicking and screaming, the ability to adjust with grace is probably the BIGGEST LIFE SKILL we can give our children through homeschooling.
Having to make a change isn’t a sign of weakness and it isn’t a sign of failure, it is a sign of self-awareness, growth, and strength.
So this week, while we were occupied with all of the things of life - things like basketball playoffs, teaching SQUILT lessons, college housing deposits, piano practice, read alouds, and MORE…the two things on my heart to share with you were about grace and change.