Educational Philosophy, Home Education

How to Move Forward

November 2, 2017

Let’s say you just realized something is wrong with your homeschool. Maybe you went to a conference. Maybe you read a blog post. Maybe you listened to a podcast. (Maybe you’re currently in Charlotte Mason Boot Camp, in which case you’ve already heard most of this.) No matter. The point is that you felt real conviction.

For the sake of this conversation, we’re going to assume you’re right. There are times when we moms compare ourselves with others and think we’re lacking when the truth is we’re just doing something differently and that’s okay. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about real conviction about a real thing that needs to change.

George Grant once said that education is repentance. He wrote:

It is a humble admission that we’ve not read all that we need to read, we don’t know all that we need to know, and we’ve not yet become all that we are called to become. Education is that unique form of discipleship that brings us to the place of admitting our inadequacies.

This is as true for the teacher as it is for the student. In real learning, we are confronted with where we’re wrong, where we’re lacking, where we need to grow, where we are ignorant. This can feel very discouraging to all of us, but the truth is that some personality types feel the weight more than others (you know who you are).


Listen to this post as a podcast:


Regardless of whether it’s a Big Deal, or only a nagging doubt, we might as well get used to the feeling because this is going to keep happening. As we continue to read and study we’re going to come across places that hit us smack in the face: Wow. Here’s where I should be and I am falling so far short of that it’s not even funny!

A couple of things about this:

1. Stop beating yourself up.

Not all of you do the self-flagellation thing, but those of you who do need to Stop. I say this with love. ♥

The question when we feel conviction is what to do with it. Beating ourselves up does not actually take us down the road we want to go. Yes, the first step of repentance is acknowledging where we are wrong. This is true. But to remain in that place and punish and scold ourselves is not helpful and it’s not going to bear fruit.

We have to turn it off. Flip the switch.

One thing that helps me flip the switch is to remember that it is not a mistake that I am the mother of these children. I always go back to Psalm 127 where it says that the Lord builds the house and those of us who try to build it without Him labor in vain.

The Lord knew. He matched our children with us. He gave us to them and them to us, on purpose. He didn’t give our children perfect parents, He gave them us.

We’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.

2. Make a plan to move forward, in the right direction.

Continuing in the same direction is not repentance — it’s shirking conviction. Beating ourselves up is not repentance — it’s rolling in our own filth.

Repentance is always turning and walking a new way.

Now, in this case we’re not talking about serious moral issues. We’re talking about homeschooling, and in that context, I think it’s good to remember that, if we’re not careful, we’ll be overwhelmed by All The Things That Are Wrong.

Note: no normal person has ever solved all their problems in a single day. You are a normal person. Therefore, you need to choose one thing to work on at a time.

Now, sometimes we come across little things. Hints on how to  tweak the schedule is a good example. Changes like this don’t take a lot of concentrated effort. I simply realize I was doing one thing when another would be an improvement, and it’s not a big deal, so I change it immediately and move on.

That’s not really the sort of thing that requires a plan and diligence, is it?

When we become aware of bigger things, that is when overwhelm can set in. We’re lacking in a million different places but we are finite creatures.

This means we need to choose one thing. Work on that one thing. When it’s better, choose the next thing.

It’s possible the most powerful habit we can have as homeschool moms is the habit of this kind of recalibration — always working on one thing that gets us closer to where we want to be.

Next time you realize something is really wrong? Don’t wallow; just DO. Do what it takes. Make a plan. Solve the problem. Move forward.

Ultimately: repent.

You’ll be glad you did.

Get the (almost) weekly digest!

Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.

Powered by ConvertKit

12 Comments

  • Reply StephVG July 28, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Reason #18579 I’m so, so glad I found your blog. Working on fixing something wrong right now, and have been struggling with discouragement that stems from perfectionism and pride. Thanks for this perspective – I think it’s a reset for my soul. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 29, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      Oh my goodness, I’m so glad this was a comfort for you! ♥

  • Reply Angelique April 14, 2018 at 9:27 am

    This is great! Missed it. Thank you.

  • Reply Brenda November 4, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Is there any way to read the WSJ article without a subscription?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Hmmm…I don’t have a subscription! I’m not sure how I read it because I didn’t even realize it was protected. I don’t know. I wonder if there is a limit to how many you can read per week or month? I know a couple other sites are like that …

    • Reply Julie November 5, 2017 at 5:37 am

      Sometimes I can read articles on my computer, but not my phone

      • Reply Brandy Vencel November 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

        Oh, I wonder if that is the difference — I read it on a computer!

        • Reply Brenda November 5, 2017 at 12:22 pm

          I have tried on a computer and on a tablet, with the same result on each. I know what you mean about a quota of free articles you can read, but I don’t recall reading any WSJ articles. Oh, well.

  • Reply sarah November 3, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Sometimes recalibration happens of necessity. I’ve had to recalibrate before because of changing ideals or schedule tweaks etc, but never, until now, because of a newly discovered issue with a student that urgently necessitates a change. It feels very different.

    I’m regretting my ignorance before this but past the self-flagellation phase thankfully. ?

  • Reply Heather November 3, 2017 at 5:09 am

    as a photographer, I love this analogy of recalibration! thank you for this! I tend to be a “all or nothing” kind of gal which is not good.

    one change at a time. little by little. resting! thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply Mama Rachael November 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    So good. Thank you. You’ve given me lots to think about.

  • Reply Lynette November 2, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Thank you, Brandy. Thank you very much.

  • Leave a Reply