There are weeks where things just click: Your tween masters algebraic equations, your kindergartener starts reading on her own, your teen puts together a textbook-perfect bibliography for his paper on the American Revolution, you do a fabulous job explaining the “no such thing as a free lunch” concept for your economics lesson. But there are plenty more weeks where you’re slogging along, doing your best, but not making any noteworthy advances. If you’re grading yourself on accomplishments, you’re going to have a handful of glowing weeks every year and weeks and weeks of “not applicable.” It can be kind of disheartening.
That’s why we need to create a new evaluation system to measure our homeschool success. Instead of focusing on accomplishments, which tend to come when they come, focus on effort: Ask “what did we do?” instead of “what did we accomplish?” Give yourself credit for working toward your goals, regardless of how much (or how little) progress you make on a given day. Slowly train yourself out of thinking of your homeschool as a series of concepts mastered and start thinking of it as a work in progress, where the progress matters just as much—if not more—than the mastery. Let the work itself—not the results of your work—become the point of what you do. We talk a lot about why this kind of focus is good for kids—it teaches them to get comfortable with mistakes, encourages them to work for the joy of working and not for some arbitrary word, and to feel comfortable taking the reins for their own projects—but it’s just as helpful for homeschool parents. When we slow down to appreciate what we’re putting into our homeschool every week, we’re better able to see achievements for what they are—the culmination of lots of effort on everybody’s part.