Homeschooling | Too Hard?
One of the statements I hear the most frequently when people learn that we homeschool is "Oh, I could never homeschool..." followed by
- it would be too hard for us to all get along all day.
- we would butt heads too much.
- my kids wouldn't listen to me.
- I need to get out of the house.
- teaching is too hard.
These are all perfectly relatable statements. I know that because they were all true for me as well.
Homeschooling is HARD.
I hope I didn't lure you in with that title question and you thought I was going to write a post about how easy homeschooling is. I wish I could but it just wouldn't be truth. I can't really think of much about homeschooling that is easier than sending my kids to school. Except that whole getting every body dressed, fed and out the door by 8:15 am EVERY SINGLE DAY. I don't know how y'all do it. What kind of sorcery is that?
The truth for me is that homeschooling is hard. But if there is one thing I've learned in life, it's that most things worth doing aren't easy. And for our family, homeschooling is very worth doing.
I feel like this is a good time for a disclaimer ;). I don't think homeschooling is the best fit for every single family. I am a former public school middle years teacher - I love schools. I am a BIG fan of teachers! You should say "thank you" to your child's teacher tomorrow - seriously - just do it. I don't agree with every facet of how the education system is run, but I in no way ever adopt an "us vs them" mentality. I didn't agree with those same things when I was a teacher in the system and I know the majority of teacher's are doing their best for the kids in their care.
That said... when people ask me how homeschooling is going, rather than launch into a 30 minute speech about the highs and lows of my week I typically answer with "Homeschooling is the hardest and best thing I've ever done."
Let's talk about some of those hard things shall we?
The Head Butting
I think some people assumed that I chose to homeschool because my children and I all were perfectly amenable and had perfectly complimentary personalities that made me think "We can absolutely be with each other 24-7 for years on end." Um - no. I am an assertive person who is strict (yet fun) and who is also a social introvert. My son is quick, efficient, doesn't like to waste time ever, likes to push boundaries and isn't a fan of anyone teaching him anything ever. My daughter believes that "more is more", loves to dawdle, loves to draw 17 pictures on her paper before doing any work and loves to talk non-stop and then freak out if you ask her to stop. There is plenty of butting of heads that goes on in our day.
I get that it can be a bit much for my kids to have me giving them direction on all the things - every day! Brush your teeth, go get dressed, make some breakfast, get your math book out, let me teach you how to divide and so on and so forth.
How we work through that is by spending time usually each day (and usually not planned) on character development. For all of us. As much as they need to learn to be kind, manage their behaviour and try to do their work without complaining, I need to learn patience, to talk less and to encourage more. Being with each other as much as we are necessitates that we rub off each other's rough edges a bit. Part of our homeschooling days are making ourselves the kind of people that we can spend all day every day with!
Mom ----> Teacher ----> Coach ----> Principal
Child ----> Student ----> Athlete
Now, we don't assign official titles or anything in our home but each of us operate in many different roles during the day. When you're in public school those roles are a bit more separate and don't run into each other that much. When you're homeschooling you get blurred lines. It has definitely been a learning curve for us to deal with me being both mom and teacher and them being both my child and student as well as student and siblings.
At public school you can't stomp off to your room crying if you don't feel like writing six sentences at that moment. In homeschool you can't slack off and hide in a corner shuffling your papers and hoping the teacher is too preoccupied with the 27 other students she's teaching to worry about whether you've even started your math. Your teacher is 2 feet from you and knows exactly what you're doing at all times. Your sibling being your classmate cane result in some epic meltdowns.
Kids will push back more with their parents. We've all seen it. It's a compliment really, we're their safe place. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that on more than one occasion I have slapped my teaching certificate on the table and stated "People used to pay me to do this. People used to send their kids to me to do this. Now, sit down and let me teach you this!" lol.
Not my proudest moments.
Though there are blurred lines, you settle into it. You realize that you get to be some sort of hybrid teacher/mom and student/child and you make it work for you. My kids can't slack off. They can't slip through the cracks. If they have a meltdown about having to revise their descriptive paragraph I can just grab a cup of coffee and say, "Let me know when you're ready to get back to work. I've got no where else to be." Or, if they're willing to talk we can get to the heart of the issue. I can speak life to the frustration that they're feeling and can reinforce our daily mantra, "You can do hard things." Being classmates with their sibling creates an environment where they learn to work through issues, build family relationships and develop strong bonds. My kids deep, joy filled friendship with each other is one of our greatest homeschooling rewards.
And being teacher/mom is the best when you get to see understanding light their faces, creative ideas flow from their pen, when science is floating on the river sneaking up on turtles and getting to snuggle together on the couch while you read your historical narrative.
What do I teach?
I get that taking on sole responsibility of your child's education is a daunting task. I may have been a teacher but I had never been an elementary teacher. Kids for the most part knew how to read by the time they got to me.
I really had no clue where to start with my own kids in their first years of school. But like any new job you take on, there is going to be a learning curve. You figure it out. And you don't need to have it all figured out before you start. You will learn and grow with your child. It's actually one of the things I love about homeschooling.
We have the freedom to pursue interest based learning. That means that in grade 2 my son spent 3 months learning about the Solar System (which was not in the SK curriculum for that year). We got so in depth and learned so much! I was just as fascinated as he was!
I can't count the number of people who have said to me, "But surely you won't attempt high school right? Like, that stuff is hard. You can't do that."
a) I don't do well with people telling me what I "can't" do. Ha! #Icandohardthings
b) If I wasn't teaching my kids those things I'd be teaching your kids those things. (My cop out answer).
c) If I can successfully understand things like Physics and high school maths as a 15-17 year old I can DEFINITELY understand and teach it as an invested 40 year old who has spent the last 14 years homeschooling their child. And so can you! Even if you didn't do well in public school, people change and grow and if you WANT to learn something, you can.
There are more "hard things" that I'd love to weigh in on and give encouragement on. This post is getting a little lengthy (even for me) so I'll do a Part 2! I'd love to hear your comments (here or on Facebook) about what you'd like to hear about!
So whether you're a homeschooler, a public schooler or a mom of toddlers say this over yourself today - I CAN DO HARD THINGS.