Tirzah at Yearnin4someLearnin’ had one of those posts that touches the heart of every veteran homeschooling mom’s heart. It went something like this:
‘I asked my kids if they enjoyed homeschooling. [Though the individual responses were varied], the general consensus was no. Now I’m feeling as if it is all my fault.’
Several moms, including me, wrote to encourage her that we all have those moments with our children, and she was so kind as to send an individualized message of thanks to me. As I thought about our e-mail exchange, it occurred to me that many moms and dads are deciding to homeschool at about this time of year, with varied responses from the children. I thought I’d share what I wrote to her as a testimony, both to myself and to other homeschoolers, old and new.
I can remember my husband and I telling the kids that they weren’t going back to private school. We were heading home from church one Sunday and running a few errands afterward. Our son asked if he could wear his pajamas to class, and upon hearing that it was an acceptable practice, he was pumped. The oldest was excited, too–as long as she thought she had the option to return to a traditional environment whenever she wanted. When she realized that this wasn’t true, she spent about a year or more being jealous of the kids who got off the school bus ("they’re having sooooo much fun", she’d say). Of course she wasn’t keeping perspective that she’s seeing them after they’ve been cooped up with dry, dull textbooks all day, unable to be themselves, and constantly under the critical eye of their peers, trying to live up to the latest standards of cool and popular.
I spent a lot of time thinking that if I could make every moment fun, she’d have a change of heart. One day I stopped and realized something. (kind of like those moments when the baby hits the lady on her forehead and she realizes that she could have had a V-8). When the kids were in private school, my criteria for success were 1) were they learning, 2) were they safe, and 3) did they have at least one friend. Why was I setting myself up to such a high standard? They didn’t always like their school; should they always enjoy being home?
Once I got that revelation, I did my best to keep her and the other’s needs in mind, but I also let myself off the hook for having to have the perfect school day such that they’d never want to leave this great schooling atmosphere. What I found is that, over time, our daughter grew to enjoy being homeschooled (at least on most days). Among other things, she loves being able to relax in her PJs all day, she loves being able to work and still "raid the fridge" when she likes, she loves going places that other kids can’t go during the daytime, and every now and then, she’ll even admit that she’s enjoying what she’s learning. She even has the audacity to complain that the school kids wake her up while they’re in front of the house waiting for the bus! I like to think that if I asked her, she’d probably stay in this environment as opposed to going to a traditional school.
I know that not everyone has this testimony; some kids never reach a point of enjoying homeschooling. So if I can encourage you at all, see where you can incorporate what they enjoy into what you’re learning, but also give them time and yourself a break; they’ll grow to appreciate what you’re doing and how you’re growing as a family. Even if they don’t, pray about it and keep moving forward–God will give you a peace which passes human understanding.