Imagine for a moment that your students have graduated homeschooling. What would make you feel like your homeschool was a success?
Would you be a success if your student got a Ph.D, went to Harvard, or revolutionized a part of modern medicine? Would you feel like you had done your job if your child had a huge heart for making people feel welcome? What defines success for you?
This question is important for everyone, not just homeschoolers.
One of my friends gave up her pursuit of an engineering degree to be an au pair. She's happy. Her parents are less so. Is she a success?
My wife abandoned her plans to be a teacher to be a homemaker and has since taken up costume creation, novel writing, and done other things such as teaching online university classes. My wife is absolutely a success; on top of her own accomplishments, she's also enabled me to do many of the things I love to do. But she doesn't get paid to teach and we don't have kids. What determines success here?
Another of my friends no longer writes music. I'm pretty sure he sells drapery or something. But he's got a couple kids. Is being a dad "success enough"?
My best friend dropped out of college to pursue an amazing job opportunity. Today, he works retail and has a great wife. He is one of the most level-headed, insightful, wise, and kind people I know. He's a success. Right?
Me? I rocked school and graduated with all kinds of indicators I would "make it" in life. Today, I have a failed film production company on my resume. I have a passion project website few people visit. I've been halfheartedly trying to write a book for almost a decade. For as much time as I pour into kid's lives, I can't point to any measurable positive change. And I'm employed by my parent's company. Is that success?
It's easy for us to feel like failures. I think it's even easier to let the fear of failure wash over us. But if we're going to positively counteract this fear and feeling of failure, we need to define success. And one of the best places to start is by revisiting your goals. Think back to why you started homeschooling. Those reasons should help clarify what you'd like to see on the other side. For example, Sonlight's Top 10 Goals apply to your students no matter what vocation they pursue.
Homemaker? Chemist? Missionary? Writer? Marine? Doctor? Professor? Baker? Parent? Pastor? Politician? We need Christ-followers with a love for people and a global perspective in all those fields.
I don't always feel like a success, and I'm guessing there are days when you don't either. But those feelings aren't what's important. In fact, we should throw off those feelings with truth. What defines success?
Are you diligently doing what God has called you to do? Are you following and resting in Christ while you do it? And for the times you mess up, are you throwing yourself again on His grace and redemption?
If so, you are a success.
And by God's grace, you kids are going to succeed as well.
What are your homeschooling goals? How do you determine if you (or your students) are being successful?
Filmmaker, Writer, Guardian