Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Posts tagged “patience and homeschooling

It’s Not About Patience

Oh, if I had a penny for every time I heard some variation of ‘I wish I had the patience to homeschool my kids’, I could buy the bestest homeschooling stuff!

I would like you to think about that statement. What does it mean? First of all (and I recognize that I may take a tremendous load of crap for saying this), I think it’s a cop-out. We teach our children from the moment they are born. Everything they do is a testament to our ability to teach and support them as they learn, from breastfeeding, to sitting up, to walking to riding a bike – we’re there, preparing them, supporting, kissing boo-boos when they fall and gently encouraging them to try again. So saying that you lack the patience to teach your child is patently untrue (unless your kids were raised by wolves, in which case, I salute you {wink}).

If you’ve had a four-year old that is currently still alive and past that point, then you can most certainly homeschool your child, for NO ONE asks more questions than a four-year old who wants to know ‘why’. I know of no other scenario that is solely designed to test one’s patience than ‘Why?’ for an hour straight. No school-aged child asks that many questions, even when you’re trying to explain molecular science, prepositions and fractions (all in the same day).

When I hear, ‘If only I had the patience’, it kinda irks me. It implies that I possess something that you do not. Since I am a mom who takes medication for anxiety and clinical depression, I assure you that patience is not a virtue one must possess in order to successfully homeschool. There are days here where – just like in your home, I am sure – things go to crap the moment feet hit the floor. There are bad moods that must be dealt with, whiney kids that must be endured, savage beasts that must be tamed. I think the difference is having a strategy to handle those types of situations.

Most of us know when days like that are brewing. The smart homeschool mom nips it in the bud by feeding everyone, then shooing them out of the house. If nothing productive paperwork-wise is going to get done anyway, then take school on the road. We have a state park with a lovely pavilion area that is perfect for school outdoors. Between assignments, the kids can hike the baby bear trail or skip down to the creek’s edge for some stress relief and solitude before coming back and hitting the books again.

Then again, there are days where school just ain’t gonna happen – and you know what? They have those days in school-school, too. Those are the days your kids comes home and you ask, “What’s you do today?’ and the answer is ‘Watch movies!”. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a day off now and then – beneficial, even.

The other thing that I hate about that statement is that it automatically sets up a competition between you and me. Yeah, I homeschool – so what. Surely there’s something that you do with your kids that I don’t do (that I might even be envious of). That’s cool – rather than competing, why can;t we appreciate that we have different approaches to the many aspects of child-rearing, learn what we can from one another and support the rest?

So what is it, really, that prevents moms from homeschooling? For the vast majority, I think it’s a choice. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine – and it is a choice that should be supported.

Homeschooling does not automatically win you the ‘Better Mom’ award. You don’t get extra points; there is no gold star or special prize when your child graduates. We all educated our children according to the needs of our individual families – and those needs will vary wildly from one family to the next – from one year to the next, from one child to the next, and that’s as it should be.

But for some reason, there seems to be a taboo against saying, ‘I just don’t want to homeschool.’ I for one, think that if you know yourself, and homeschooling isn’t your ‘thing’, then it’s better to send your kids elsewhere to be educated. Homeschooling is a lot of work – it’s fun for most of us most of the time, but it’s work, too. If you’re not up to it, that doesn’t mean that you’re not just as dedicated to ensuring that your kids get a good education. You just have a different path to accomplish that.

Other families are not in a position to homeschool. Perhaps both parents need to work – or there is only one parent. There are those that manage to homeschool despite that limitation, but they more than likely don’t do it alone, and they word hard to make it happen. And those that do make it happen alone? Those are the ones that deserve accolades. But again, it’s not about being a better parent than you, it’s about what is best for their individual child(ren).

Still other families are happy with their local ISD or can afford a private school option (or charter school, or special theory school – whatever). Believe me, if our ISD was more interested in the child and not his ability to test well, I might have my kids in public school. If I could afford to put my kids in Montessori school, or if our area offered an affordable Waldorf style school, I would seriously consider it! But short of my husband working a second job, and me taking on a full-time job, that’s not going to happen! Some those kids who thrive in a classroom environment – and that’s fine, too. For every child who ‘needs’ to be homeschooled, I imagine there’s a child who just functions better in the hustle and bustle of the classroom.

I think that patience comment has become a convenient way to gloss over the real reason – explaining ones’ self fully would be too complicated (and invasive). Most of us can relate to feeling frustrated dealing with homework and equate that frustration with what homeschooling must be like, not realizing that it’s not even remotely the same.

I don’t know where all I was going with this, but it was on my mind and I wanted to write about it. Feel free to continue the discussion!