It All Adds Up

Boy relaxing

It’s so easy to feel behind, or like you aren’t doing enough. In fact, when our kids are good at their schoolwork and “get finished” quickly (math page or copy work, grammar or reading), we might be tempted to undervalue the effort. We think: “It wasn’t hard enough,” or “She’s rushing through it,” or “This program is incomplete and too easy.”

Then we find ourselves in the quicksand of reevaluation and angst—not satisfied with the evidence of progress, accomplishment, success, and achievement.

Honestly, we doubt success when we should doubt struggle—we overvalue struggle as evidence of learning, when if we really think about it—joy and pleasure are much better signs of learning and growth.

Isn’t it strange? It’s like we’re never happy! My best friend in the homeschooling trenches used to say to me: “When my kids are outside playing, I wonder why they aren’t at home reading a book. When they are inside reading a book, I wonder why they are wasting the sunshine and not playing outside. I’m never happy.”

How true!

Our relentless need to push our kids (and ourselves), our insecurity about what progress looks like, and our memories of school (which are distorted by time and self-doubt), lead us to miss the evidence in front of our eyes—ease in learning, happiness in subject areas, brevity in finishing a task—these are evidences of successful education. Of course our kids will misspell or miscalculate. Of course they will sometimes use their worst handwriting or get distracted by a toddler who wants to play rather than finishing the chapter.

But that’s okay too! All of it adds up to learning.

Today, instead of looking for what’s missing, turn away from your fantasy homeschool vision. Notice reality. Make a list of all the things that go right today, such as:

• She brushed her teeth without my prompting her.
• He comforted his little brother when he started to cry.
• She finished her math page in ten minutes!
• He remembered which way the letter ‘b’ goes twice.
• She enjoyed listening to the read aloud.
• He wrote a list of materials to buy for his BB gun on his own!
• She practiced her dance routine.
• He went to his piano lesson and remembered to bring all the sheet music.
• She ate a good lunch.
• He laughed a lot while watching TV.
• I got to spend five minutes talking to him about his favorite game.
• I helped her find her hair net and she was grateful.


So much goes right every single day. All of it is education. Pace yourselves. Enjoy the periods where the “school part” feels a little too easy and the lessons, a little short, and the home, relatively functional and happy.

That’s what you live for—don’t forget to notice when it happens!

Cross-posted on facebook.

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One Response to “It All Adds Up”

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you. This will be printed and pasted to my forehead!