Thursday, September 18, 2008

Homeschooling is Hard

There. I just came right out and said it.

Sometimes I think people have visions of homeschoolers sitting upright and quiet in their chairs, waiting patiently for instruction from their mother. Or, child and mother exchanging a hug and kiss and a "great job!" at the end of each school day. These things occasionally occur at our house. But of late, it goes more like this...

"Sam, stay sitting. Stop whirling your pencil. Please keep your pencil on the table. Sam, come back to the table. Please stop crying. You know how to do this and I'm here to help you. Please stop continuing to draw lines on your paper after you know you've made a mistake. Would you act like this if you went to a big school? What do you think that teacher would do? Do you think that when Daddy gets frustrated at school, he throws his pencil at his teacher and stomps off saying he's never doing school again? You must do school. It's the law, Sam. If you don't go to big school and if you don't do school at home, Mommy could get in trouble by the police." I get desperate, you see.

And, it's not that he's not bright, or doesn't understand the work. That, I could handle. That, I have patience for.

He just doesn't want to do the work. So, I try to understand. I don't want to do work a lot of the time. Oh, how I really hate scrubbing toilets and dusting. But, I have to do it anyway, so I just do it and try to be thankful that I have a toilet (two, actually) and that I have a house to dust. This is what I tell Sam, anyway. Does it work? Not yet.

Instead, Sam loses privileges. Not for incorrect answers or improper handwriting, but for fussing and complaining and not cooperating. Two days ago, he first lost a piece of candy I was going to reward him with if he did a good job. Then, he lost PBS privileges after school that day. Then, he lost PBS privileges after school the next day. Then, he lost the privilege of having his bottom not sting.

Then, after we were both in tears, we actually did have that hug and kiss and he was on his best behavior for the rest of the school day.

Oh. My. Word. It's going to be a very long school year if that's what it takes. But, you know what? I'm stubborn as all get out. And this is what we want. So, we'll find a way to make it work.

Yesterday, in the car, I asked Sam if we were going to have a better school day. He said yes. I said, "Let's have all the rest of the school days be better, okay?" He said, "I don't think I can do that."

So, we agreed to have more better days than bad days. At least he's honest. And realistic.

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  1. "Do you think that when Daddy gets frustrated at school, he throws his pencil at his teacher and stomps off saying he's never doing school again?"
    --the thought has crossed my mind...

  2. You have no idea how much of a help todays blog on homeschooling was to my 6 yr old and me. He can get very contrary about school if he doesn't want to do it. I read him your son's experience. He tried to down play it by saying "well we don't have a TV so that wouldn't work" but I told him I have other punishments up my sleeve. He decided he would much rather do school. Thanks for being so honest.

  3. I can mommy used to tell me the same thing...that if I didn't go to school that the police would come and take her to jail. I didn't want her to go to jail. Instead she chose to run away for 15 minutes. Are parents really allowed to run away?

  4. Oh Gen, I really do enjoy your writing. I haven't told you before, but I check up on you almost daily. I admire you and your hard work and your dedication to your family. I really didn't envision your homeschooling days going like this, so it's nice to know you're all "normal" :)
    Tomorrow Jarrett's having Pirate day at "big school". Perhaps you can throw in an "aye mate" when the going gets tough.
    Take Care

  5. Ha! I love it! You're one mean mama---the best kind of "mean", of course.

    From another mean mama (we need all the support we can get),

  6. Dear Anonymous,

    I'm not sure I exactly understand what you are saying, but I do think it is smart to look at things from the child's point of view. I certainly don't want Sam to ever feel real fear about me being taken away and therefore, I don't say anything about jail. I can see how that would be terribly scary for a child to think about.

    Also, I am not sure why your mother "ran away for 15 minutes". I don't think it's okay for parents to do that- unless she was taking a break to cool down:-).

    Thanks for your comment. If I'm misinterpreting anything, please let me know:-)!


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