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George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt - all were self-educated and learned at home!

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Back to School Advice: Take Chances! Make Mistakes!

If I had a dollar for every mistake I have made as a mom, I'd... Well, I don't know what I would do. Probably donate it to feed orphaned children. And spend just a little on a nice box of chocolates.

Our family loves "The Magic School Bus." My friend Denise hosts a science club for a small group of us and she is our personal Ms. Frizzle. The children gather once a week to do some science exploration. She makes it exciting and fun - like we all wish everyday homeschooling would be!

Do you feel free enough to take chances and make mistakes? Maybe even get a little messy? Or does each error in judgment make you feel like a failure?

Let's look at some of my own recent mistakes and see how God used them.

Mistakes in buying curriculum

At the beginning of many homeschool years, my children would expect that we would change curriculum at least once. We would work a month, then realize that we had made a huge mistake, and switch to something else. We were working out the bugs in homeschooling, in a way. You see, I thought it was all about the books.

Now I see it's all about the relationship. If I knew then what I know now, I would modify what I had bought and focus on the child instead of the book. Is the curriculum you chose tedious? Do every other problem if the child is understanding the concept. Is it boring? Spice it up with some accompanying projects of your own design. Is your child just not getting it? Maybe he is not ready, or maybe you should try putting the material into your own words as you explain it to your child. A mistake in curriculum is usually not the fault of the books. Rather, look to the relationship between you and your child.

And if you really hate the curriculum, sell it at a used book fair or on a used curriculum site.

Mistakes in activity involvement

At the beginning of each homeschool year, it is a wonder that I don't run out of ink. We find ourselves signing up for too many things, and then realize that we can't keep up with them. Before you take on that scout troop, or the Bible study, take a serious look at how that commitment will impact your family life. Remember what it is like to be racing around in the van all the time with not enough down time.

And if you get involved in something and it isn't working out, graciously bow out. If you are in a position of leadership, try to find someone to cover your duties. Believe it or not, they will get along fine without you!

Mistakes in relationships

If I could count the ways I have failed my children... Too high expectations, too harsh, too controlling, not controlling enough, not accepting enough. When we learned that one of ours had a learning disability, I was so angry! How dare she disrupt this perfect homeschool family! But I have repented of these mistakes and sought forgiveness from the Lord as well as the children. God's mercies are new every morning. Lamentations 3: 22-23 says, "His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness." (NIV) Those mercies apply to relationships as well. God forgives us for our mistakes. We need to forgive ourselves - and move on.

Grace and abundance prevail in the end

If you never do anything, never try anything, never venture anything, you'll never make mistakes. You'll also miss the great richness and excitement of a life lived daily relying on His grace, forgiveness and faithfulness. So take chances, make mistakes!

For added encouragement, remember Theodore's Roosevelt's words of encouragement, born of a combination of many failures and many successes:

The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who, at the best, know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Mark & Christine Field were married in 1986 and had the typical dual-career marriage. After practicing law for eight years, Christine left the work force in 1991 to be a full-time mother. Chris now homeschools her four children and is the author of several books, including Help for the Harried Home Schooler.

Used by permission

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