Friday, June 3, 2011

Perseverance Pays Off

 What happens when you persevere? Eventually, you’re able to graduate a child from your homeschool. The day after this article appears here and over at Heart of the Matter Online, my oldest daughter will graduate—at the age of 15, but she turns 16 next week. Let me tell you, many days (weeks, months) I was sure that neither of us would survive long enough for this day to happen!

We sort of fell into homeschooling by default. When my daughter was preschool age, many people in our church homeschooled and encouraged us to consider it. Before I knew it, I had accumulated a yard sale phonics program and a few math manipulatives. She was an eager beaver and learned how to read before she turned five. Rather than review colors, we moved onto first grade. Those first few years were pretty much smooth sailing in the homeschool department. My little me too (aka the younger sister) happily settled in for reading time on the couch and coloring at her own little desk.

Then we started fourth grade. All of a sudden, she balked at the same math program we’d been using for several years and stared out the window instead of completing her grammar assignments. School lasted until well after dinner, instead of being over by lunchtime. Nothing I did motivated her—until I discovered timers. We were constantly at each other’s throats, and for the first time, I wanted to quit homeschooling.

Just when I thought we might make it after all, our family nearly fell apart. Without going into details, I will say that it was the worst time in my life, and I could barely get out of bed each morning, let alone fight a strong-willed daughter to do her schoolwork. I eventually did give up homeschooling her. We found a small, local, Christian school she attended for the rest of the year. Of course, I still had my younger daughter at home, but she was so compliant that I could handle her.

Fast forward two and a half years. Our family slowly got put back together, and I gradually healed. We moved five states away, transferred to a different Christian school, and I even taught at that school for one year. That one year at a private school was enough to convince us that home really was where we all belonged, so The LeBedz Homeschool reopened for seventh and third grades and beyond.

As much as my daughter wanted to be homeschooled, she fought against me at every turn academically. We did summer school some years; we tried every restriction and motivation alternately and thought about returning to school. But, we persevered through the tears, the groundings, the loud discussions, and the rebellion against everything math related. Eventually, the hormones and the expectations evened out, and ninth and tenth grade were much more manageable.

Before I could congratulate myself on a job well done, my daughter hit eleventh grade. We had visited the college of her dreams on our summer vacation before that and figured out that she really only needed a few more credits in order to graduate. That fact combined with the changes in our state’s dual-enrollment program convinced us that we should try to finish the last two years of high school in one year. That sounded good in theory . . .

In practice, the college algebra dual-enrollment class my daughter took was almost her undoing. Let’s just say that the early graduation deal hung in the balance until she scraped by that class. I alternated between euphoria that she would graduate early and despair that she would never graduate; however, we persevered.

This spring should have been coasting to the finish, but it wasn’t. Actually, my daughter was coasting, and that was the problem. Several newly diagnosed physical ailments made it very difficult for me to stay on top of everything, but we kept going anyway.

Now that the schoolwork is done (okay, as I write this we officially have one week left), I can say that I am so glad that we kept homeschooling! My daughter received the best education possible and we all learned that anything is possible if we just persevere. 


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3–4).