Monthly Archives: September 2014

Homeschooling is not for Wimps

I sit across the table from daughter, she has brought on the water works once again. I explain, not so patiently, that learning is important and that she will learn one way or another, from me or from the public school system. I remind her that crying and throwing a temper tantrum will only extend her lessons and make them harder to understand. “I don’t care!” is of course the response I receive. Lucky for her I do care. I care enough not to let her give up without actually trying, I care enough to be pissed off that she pretends not to understand something when she clearly demonstrates that she does understand. It is because I care so much that I do my best to ignore the tears and continue with the lesson. Before any of you out there start to think that I am a horrible mother and that I obviously do not understand my child’s needs, let me explain further. My daughters tears make my heart break, they cause my body to tense and make me want to wrap my arms around her and tell her that she doesn’t ever have to do anything she doesn’t want to do ever again. Would I be a better mother if I did that? Would she learn what she needs to know to survive in this crazy, beautiful and frequently awful world? She cries because she thinks I won’t make her do the work if she does, she screams and yells because she would rather be playing then working. All of this I understand. I have planned some fun activities but we have get through the boring stuff first. I have even bought a pretty cool math app for her to work on math facts and other math concepts. So I harden my heart and I keep teaching.
When she asked me to home school her I readily agreed. I have Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Master’s in education, how hard could it possibly be to teach my own kid? Ok you can stop laughing now. Even with the degrees and the knowledge on how to teach a whole classroom full of kids this is the hardest thing I have ever done. Your own kid knows what buttons to push, being structured and having set learning times is not as easy as it sounds. Making yourself sit down and hash out plans is just as hard as getting your kid to sit down and do the actual learning. At any moment the overwhelming urge to jus give in and let her move from the table arises, the urge to just take a day off springs up and is hard to quell. I used to think that parents that homeschool their children were soft and that their kids just couldn’t cut it in regular school. Not proud of that generalization but there it is. I know better now. Just like regular teachers, homeschool parents have to work hard and sometimes be hard. Both types of teachers can be loving and caring for there students. However, caring about your students, in this case your own kid, sometimes means being tough, not harsh, but tough. It sometimes means that you have to ignore the tears and keep teaching, or tell them to take a five minute break and pull it together. It sometimes means you have to think way outside the box to get things back on track. To face your own educational and personal demons so that you can teach your child in a way that works best for both people. It means not giving in to the urges to just let her watch t.v. or play outside when she needs to learn about alphabetizing, adding and why there is a chemical reaction when baking soda and vinegar are mixed. In my case it also means trying not to be offended when my daughter says things “But Ms. H didn’t do it that way!” Or refraining from saying things like “well that’s why you don’t know how to tell time” when she says “Ms. H never made us go back over our wrong answers.” It means taking every possible moment to teach her something new even when she isn’t sitting at the dining table learning about place values.