When Grades Show Virtue

All those times I wanted to quit.

All those times I wondered if we were doing the right thing.

All those times people around us were skeptical.

For some reason, this moment feels like the completing of a circle. I don’t know why, as we’ve never been big on external rewards for schoolwork. We’ve never given grades, but have required our children to learn their studies to mastery. But this feels good—like a big sticking-out-my-tongue to the world. We don’t live FOR the world, but we do live IN it, and sometimes it’s necessary to play by their rules.

What is this momentous occasion that prompts me to resurrect my neglected blog? My eldest daughter—my first-born and my guinea pig in all things homeschooling—earned all A’s in her first semester at Hillsdale College.

Hillsdale is a university that is notorious for chewing up and spitting out freshman as they try to adjust to the high standards and heavy writing-and-reading load of a university that emphasizes the Great Books and the liberal arts. Getting accepted at Hillsdale was an honor and a bit of a surprise since she applied with an ACT score that was respectable but below Hillsdale’s average and a mom-transcript and mostly mom-GPA. Her character, references, and extracurriculars really shined, though, which gives me an even greater respect for Hillsdale that they were able to see past the numbers to someone striving after the good, the true, and the beautiful in her life.

But once you’re in and classes start, the hard work begins. The dense, difficult readings. The loads of writing. The high expectations of the world-class professors. The late nights studying for exams. The pull of wanting to socialize with new friends. And of course, in 2020, the coronavirus health checks and constant threat of quarantine. She even added at the last minute a full-weekend seminar series on America’s foreign policy and earned an A+ for the paper she had to complete. (She must have had an amazing writing teacher in high school! :D) More importantly than the grades, she worked hard, made consistently good choices, and managed to stay on track even in the midst of coronavirus madness. And she went to church every week. ❤ Those are the things that matter and the things that will continue to ensure her success the way we define it throughout her life.

And so for us, a bank of all A’s says more than “you earned a 90 or above.” It says that all those years of homeschooling that taught her independence, self-motivation, and to plan out her own time were worth it. Totally worth it.

So now I feel I have the authority to say with full confidence: homeschool your kids. It will be the most difficult years of your life, but has the grand, miraculous possibility of producing the fruits of wisdom and virtue.

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