By Lynna Sutherland
The other day, I was talking with a group of new homeschoolers. One mom mentioned that her family was somewhat skeptical about whether or not homeschooling was a good idea. I wanted to help her to have confidence in her choice, despite the doubts of others.
However, she said that she wasn’t bothered. “After all,” she said “the proof is in the pudding.” I know what she means. She means that she doesn’t have to convince anyone with words and arguments, because the results will speak for themselves.
In one sense, this this a healthy way to think. Actions speak louder than words, right? But if we’re not careful, this mindset can actually lead to a pretty serious case of homeschool burnout. Here’s why.
How Do You Measure Success?
Homeschooling is an excellent way to educate our children. But homeschooling is about a lot more than academics. It’s about the growth of a whole person. So much of what we do in the homeschool can’t be measured on a test or evaluated in a verbal quiz of what our kids know.
The danger in depending on the “pudding” to prove that we’ve made the right choice with our children’s education is that it threatens to drive what we do in our homeschool. Thirty minutes spent talking about the importance of integrity won’t produce the same outwardly impressive results as thirty minutes memorizing multiplication facts or all the presidents in order from Washington. But which one has more life-long value?
Plus, your doubters and detractors may have very different ways of measuring success. Many families homeschool because they have something better in mind than chasing after high-ranking test scores, high-pressure colleges, and high-dollar careers. But if we’re desperate to prove ourselves to those who don’t have a homeschool mindset, we might find ourselves right back in that mode!
What if the Pudding Is a Mess?
I often hear folks defending the homeschool movement by pointing out the fact that homeschoolers consistently score higher on standardized tests. On the average, this is true. And homeschooling is an wonderful way to provide a thorough and rich education.
But not all homeschoolers excel academically. Homeschool families have struggling learners just like other families. In fact, homeschooling can be a wonderful blessing for a student who needs the flexibility to move at a slower pace and receive individualized instruction and attention.
If you tell yourself that outstanding progress proves you made the right choice, does that mean that less-than-impressive progress means that you made the wrong choice? It’s challenging enough to seek to support a struggling learner without being crushed under the burden of believing that his performance is your evaluation.
The most toxic part of planning to win over your supporters with amazing homeschool results is that it can create a wedge between your family and other families who have made different educational choices. Believe it or not, this is one of the primary sources of “mom competition.”
If your homeschool outcomes are going to validate your decision, then your results have to be better than those who made other choices. They have to be better by a statistically significant margin.
You will find yourself constantly glancing to the right and to the left. Your stomach will flip when your public-school-educated nephew wins the spelling bee. You’ll stay awake at night thinking about the next-door neighbor who was named top athlete at her private school and now has an impressive scholarship.
Your job as a homeschool mom—or, actually, as a mom in general—is to help your child cultivate his gifts to the glory of God. But being his best doesn’t necessarily mean being the best.
What Really Matters
Remember, man looks on the outside, but the Lord looks on the heart. On the last day, He’s the only one you’ll answer to for the choices you made and the methods you used.
Sure, we’re to be a light on a hill. We’re to be known for our love. But whether others are convinced by that light and love is beyond our control. Don’t put your hope in man’s opinion. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you!
Believing that “The Proof is in the Pudding” is one of five myths that could be sabotaging your homeschool. You can read about the other four in my free eBooklet available here!
Author’s Note: Attentive readers will notice that literary license was taken with the phrase “proof is in the pudding.” The original phrase, though certainly more accurate, made for very long, non-SEO-friendly titles that sounded odd to our ear: “
Is the proof of the eating really in the pudding?” or, “ Is the eating of the pudding really in the proof?” Or, rather, “Is the proof really in the eating of the pudding?”
Thus, we opted for the shortened, modern version of the idiom.