How I Failed Our Girls In Our Home School . . . (And Why I’d Do It Again)

This is a time of year for us home school mom’s to reflect on past years, while looking ahead to a new year , , , And I have a lot of past years to reflect upon.  With three girls graduated, I can see more of the whole picture than I could when they were all small. And there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Once they’ve graduated and are settling into life as adults it becomes quite blaringly clear what areas you succeeded in. And those that you have failed in.  My cousin, who has a ten year old that she is doing a fantastic job home schooling, was feeling quite inadequate a while back.  She was comparing herself to me and judging herself by conversations she had had with my girls.  Conversations all about literature.

“They have such a love of books, and they are so articulate,” and on and on she went. My home schooling abilities seemed so fantastic compared to hers. Of course I’m going to look like a homeschool super mom when you are talking to them about books. literature was our strong suite.

But what nobody knows. . .

Really, maybe I should change this post and talk about books.  and literature. Yeah,  I adore talking about those. . .

But, no.  That’s not why your here, is it?  Nope, you were promised a confession of failure.

So, here goes.


Yep.  We stink at math.  And such an important subject, too.  There is no way your kid is getting into a prestigious university if they stink at math! Two of my girls have been to college.  One was a Christian College where math was not required- or offered, for that matter.  But one is close to graduating from a State University, where math is a very real reality.   It was a struggle for her. And it was a struggle that could have been avoided if I had done things differently.

It’s not like I just scoffed at math, I KNEW it was important.  There were curriculum choices, and inadequacies on the teaching end . . . and the list of excuses can go on and on.  During math lessons I often had a recurring nightmare. The scenario consisted of the child sitting by an off ramp of the freeway holding a sign that read


By the way, none of them have stooped to this, so, not a complete failure!

The deal is, YOU WILL FAIL.  There will be something.  I know, that is not what you want to hear.  It is not the slightest bit encouraging.  But, that, my friends, is the truth.  Period.  No one can teach all areas successfully.  A nicer term than failure, is gaps.  They will be there.  Even if you could teach perfectly, no child is smart in all areas.  Even public schools, which we all tend to compare our education to, have gaps.  So, if you accept that somewhere, at some point, you will fail,  it can become quite freeing.  NOT to advocate, in any way, laziness.

But you can breath.

My older girls had 360 hours of Worldview when they graduated.  Some of those hours were “farmed out” to other classes for transcript purposes, ie. Creation Science, Biblical Studies, Composition, Logic, Social Studies, etc. They had 4 credits of English and 3 credits of Literature.  They had 3 credits of History. Because, these are the things that I saw would set them up in life.  I wanted them to know God’s purpose for them.  I wanted them to know how to think clearly in a muddy world, and I wanted them to know how to articulate their thoughts.

Early on, I set educational goals for our home school.  Mine looked something like this:

The student will

  • Have a vibrant, deep relationship with Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord
  • Have a deep understanding of their own faith, what it means to them, and how it affects their daily decisions
  • Be able to articulate this faith to others
  • Be able to face boldly and enthusiastically any opposing worldview with clear, concise thoughts, and logically stand their ground
  • Be a person of integrity
  • Have a good work ethic
  • Walk in such a way for God to order their steps, so they can fulfill their  God-given purpose in life
  • Have the initiative and ability to be able to learn on their own

So, you can see how math might have slipped through the cracks on busy days!  And, to top it all, I’m O.K. with it.

And so are they.

One day, several years ago, my oldest was regaling some math class horror story to me.  Apparently, she was learning things for the first time that the other kids had learned in grade school.  And, cringing, I apologized.

“It’s okay Mom.  I can learn this stuff now, no big deal.  But those kids can’t go back and spend hours and hours reading.”

That was very satisfying to me.

In books you have adventures and meet people from different lands and times.  You see and experience other’s mistakes, as well as their glory.  You feel the price of courage and honor. You learn what sacrifice is. You learn to empathize with others, whether it be in joy or sorrow.  Good literature develops the heart.  If you have a big heart, you can learn to do anything in life.

So, yeah, I’d do it again.

My girls are successful because they can learn to do anything.  I see in their lives that they know how to sacrifice for others, they know how to love, they know how to work.  They can be happy, and help others to be happy, no matter the circumstances.  And, as far as success in the “world” They have – collectively- worked their way through school (full time hours),  worked their way up in a corporate organization, manage day to day operations in a retail shop, work in banking (They CAN count money and make change! . . . besides, they use calculators at the bank!). For where they are at in life, and what they are doing, they all are doing well financially, and more importantly, they do well with their finances.  There. Sorry about the bragging session, but it was necessary, to get my point across- don’t you think?  The point is, my nightmare scenario is far from reality. On the other hand, we can learn from our mistakes. Because, 3 more to go.  I see enrollment in math class at the local Junior College written on the wall for them. ‘Cause Mama’s got limitations!

I highly recommend setting your own educational goals.  What is it you want your children to walk away from your home with?  They will look very different for each family.  What are the non-negotiables? For some families, a major priority might just be for their kid to never spend a night in jail 🙂  For others, there might be a high priority on an ivy league school.  There are all kinds of families, know who you are.  After you do this, THEN you can make goals for the year and choose curriculum.  And when you do, you will have a clear, focused idea of what you are after.  It makes a screaming toddler writing on the walls during read-aloud time, and spilled orange juice on the science book a bit more palatable. A bit.




Posted in Family, Homeschool, Life.


  1. This is such a great post! Math was my weak area, too, but they still got enough to do just fine. My goals were very similar to yours, and writing them down is something I also recommend. You illustrated perfectly why they’re important. You can look back and see that math was not one of them, but it sounds like you achieved every single one that was. One might focus on the math and think you failed, but if you focus on the goals that were set and attained, you were a huge success. That’s the power of goal-setting!

  2. Two words to describe how this encouraged me this morning.

    I cried.

    Thanks for being so open and honest. Some things have gotten way easier for us and a few other things in our lives are still hard.

    You recall me to what is essential, while also giving attention to a few things which are helpful.

    Thank you Joy.

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