I’m not sure where I first saw it, but it must have been in some bookstore or gift shop, just a small, decorative placard with the words, “Never despise small beginnings.”
I was only a teenager at the time and I didn’t even realize the words were a take on Zechariah 4:10. I just knew that they me smile — gave me hope for my future — and I went home and made my own version of that little sign, even framing it and putting it on the wall in my bedroom where it hung for several years. I haven’t gone in search of it yet, but I hope it’s still there in my parents’ house somewhere…
Because as cliche as those words may sound when you say them, they’re nevertheless true. While it’s so easy to look at small accomplishments and slow progress and be more discouraged by it than inspired, it is in the humblest beginnings that we start making steps toward big and beautiful and amazing things.
And if that is true in other areas of our lives, moms, it’s certainly true in our homeschools.
It’s so easy sometimes to measure our kids’ success and find it sadly lacking. We just hoped for so much more. Expected more. We even tried demanding more! But that doesn’t necessarily translate into satisfying results. And it doesn’t help that we moms are NOTORIOUS for making comparisons that we know we should not make.
You know the kind of comparisons I’m talking about, like agonizing because your publicly-schooled nephew just got a 2260 on his SAT and will be studying in Spain this summer, while your child is barely hobbling his way through algebra as a high school junior. Or your friend’s kid is competing in this year’s National Geography Bee when you know your kid would do well to name half the U.S. states. Or the lady at the co-op has a 12 year daughter who has already started her own business and, at the rate she’s going now, will have her college paid for in another two years.
Okay, these are extreme examples — maybe even unrealistic ones — but you know as well as I do that we often compare and judge and analyze our homeschooling progress in some pretty harsh, and often unrealistic ways.
But here’s your reminder, homeschooling moms, never to despise the small beginnings. Progress, even when it’s not at the rate we had hoped, is still progress. Success, even when on a smaller scale than we expected, is still success. Sometimes we may just need to stop the comparing and judging and analyzing and focus on the small beginnings.
Which is what I’ve tried to do lately.
Our homeschool year is beginning to draw to a close and I can sit and grieve over the things that haven’t been accomplished, or I can embrace and celebrate the things that have, however big or small they may be.
So do you want to see some of my list? Here goes…
- Peanut, my youngest, is finally starting to work independently. A little. Sometimes. But, hey, that’s progress! He’s only 6 and, to him, structured school is the worst kind of torture, so sitting still long enough to do a few math problems on his own is pretty incredible!
- And though his reading is less-than-stellar right now, his grasp of phonics is actually very good. If I can just get him to sit still long enough to do it, I believe he’ll be reading well in no time.
- And either way, his listening and narration skills have improved by leaps and bounds this year.
- Meanwhile, Little Man, who is 8, is finally starting to enjoy reading on his own. I still have to force the issue most days, but once he’s reading, he really enjoys it and I’m going to do my best to keep cultivating that interest. (By forcing it, if necessary.)
- Little Man has always been good at math, but careless mistakes used to plague him. I’m seeing far fewer mistakes now, however. And my little lefty’s atrocious handwriting is becoming…well, less atrocious. It’s even legible most days! 😉
- And did I mention he is becoming my regular breakfast help? Maybe it’s only because he’s always hungry in the morning and the more he helps, the sooner we eat, but I don’t really care his motive. I’m just glad for the help!
|Yes, my kitchen is messy. Don’t judge me… 😉|
- Doodle is still dyslexic. Not that I expected that to change or anything, but the problems haven’t vanished away with time. And they won’t. Dyslexia is here to stay.
- But I’ve watched my daughter begin reading her own word problems in math this year, which is amazing improvement for her. Deciphering words can be difficult enough, even without having to also look for math concepts hidden in those words. Can she read and comprehend all her word problems? No. But she’s doing many of them on her own, which is great improvement.
- She’s also reading for pleasure now, going through Junie B. Jones books at a rate that makes my head spin. And, yes, I realize a lot of people hate Junie books because the grammar is bad and Junie is hardly a paragon of pint-sized virtue. And, yes, I realize they probably fall under my own definition of twaddle. (Does that make me a hypocrite? Ah well.) And, yes, technically these books are below my child’s reading level, or at least they would be if she was an average reader, which she is not given her dyslexia.
- But if you had ever sat and cried with a child who thought they would never, ever learn to read, you might be as thrilled as I am to watch my daughter laughing her way through chapter books of her own choosing.
- And, YIKES, I began homeschooling my first high schooler this year. The effort has not been without its issues, believe me, and one nightmarish stretch finally resulted in a mid-year curriculum overhaul that wasn’t pretty.
- But through it all my Polly Wolly, PW for short, has read like crazy, FAR surpassing the reading list I had planned for her and leaving me wondering how I’ll ever come up with an adequate list for next year! She has breezed her way through classic novels and plays galore, reading more amazing material in her freshmen year than I may have read in all four years of high school, and loving every moment of it.
- Math is not her strong point. Science sometimes makes her cry. But I would be hard-pressed to find a 14-year-old who is more well-read than my PW!