How Much Is Enough?


Once upon a time I used to worry about how much learning my children were doing each day.

“Can we go now, Mum? Have we done enough school work for today?”

How much is ‘enough’?

I used to look at my records book. Did it have enough written in it? I used to look at the clock? Was there time to fit something else into the day?

I rarely looked at my children.

How much was enough? Would my children learn all they needed to know before they finished homeschooling? And what exactly did they need to know? It was hard to work out.

I used to have this idea: By the time my children reached the age of 18, they would be perfect. They’d have had a thorough education. They would be virtuous in every way. There would be no reason for them to make any mistakes in life. They’d be prepared for whatever faced them out there in the world. (I know it was a silly idea!) It didn’t take long for me to realise this was an unrealistic expectation. Learning is a life-long process. We are never fully educated. We are never perfect. But we do continue to grow.

So how much is enough?

I like these quotes from A Little Way of Homeschooling written by Suzie Andres:

Therese was a realist, and knew there was work to be done, but she decided to do whatever came her way without fear without worrying about the outcome, without the false notion that it depended on her…

… I think that one of our methods for multiplying worries is telling ourselves that our job in educating our children is to do our best, to pack as much knowledge into them as possible. How much more profitable to us to begin from Therese’s reminder, “It’s only in Heaven that we’ll see the whole truth about everything. This is impossible on earth.”

God will give each of us the time that we need to learn everything He wants us to know; this applies to both ourselves and our children. Why do we expect we must teach it all to our children in our homeschool? And why do we automatically assume that this burden of prospective learning will be painful for them, arduous for us? There is a less frightening way….

… In the spirit of St Therese, we as Catholics ought to realise that Jesus has set us free. If we believe His words, if we strive to believe Him more and more, we will start by living one day at a time, letting tomorrow take care of itself. Already we will have made progress if we refuse to see the whole future of a child contained in today’s accomplishments, successes and failures…

Don’t you just love those words? I find them very comforting and freeing.

I eventually stopped worrying about ‘enough’. I no longer look at how full my records book is. I no longer look at the clock. These days I look at my children.

And I bet my children are rather relieved.

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Comments

  1. Reply

    Hi Sue,

    That last quote really spoke to me when I read the book. I'm still working at not worrying about tomorrow. I suspect it will always be a work in progress, but at the moment it's provong rather tricky!

    I liked your picture of how you imagined your homeschool gratuates would turn out. It's good to be able to laugh at our former selves and our high ideals!

    1. Reply

      Tricia,

      I have bee thinking a lot about how we strive to abandon ourselves to Divine Providence. We try to take one day at a time and trust God to take care of the future. But when it comes to homeschooling, we often forget to do the same thing. We think homeschooling success is entirely up to us, and so we worry. Yes, that last paragraph of the quote is really thought provoking.

      High ideals? Yes, I certainly had plenty of those, Tricia! I was going to be the perfect mother and the perfect homeschooler, and of course, my children were going to be perfect too. All highly unrealistic. Actually it is quite a relief to know perfection isn't expected of me. I just do my best and I know God will work it all out in the end. He has with every other aspect of my life. Why not homeschooling too?

      My children? A couple of them have problems that I pray God will help them with. I try to trust. I know God loves and cares so much about them so He will look after them. God has a place and mission for each and every one of us. Sometimes we just have to be patient as far as our children go.

      Tricia, thank you for stopping and commenting. I always enjoy chatting with you.

      God bless!

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