I Might Kill My Kids!
This is the #1 reason I hear why moms don’t want to homeschool their kids. Really? I get that this is an exaggeration, but the very excuse indicates that the excuse-maker’s kids drive her crazy. Well, guess what? My kids have exasperated me on occasion too. I have even threatened them with the big yellow bus tomorrow morning, if they didn’t shape up. I can report, however, that each one of my children are still alive (smile).
What is it about our kids that makes us want to scream in frustration and throw in the homeschooling towel, or never begin in the first place? Anger and frustration can come from anywhere, but I’m going to boil it down to 3 problem areas:
1. The parent hasn’t properly trained her children to respect her authority and obey. Just as we are imperfect people, so are our children. But, our kids are teachable and trainable. We can raise them up to be respectful and obedient kids who are a pleasure to be around. Yes, it takes hard work, diligence and consistency, but it is worth it. There are lots of great books on this topic. If you struggle with children who do not obey or who disrespect you, read up on child-training, whether you homeschool or not. Parenting is the hardest job we’ll ever do, but also the most worthwhile. Teaching your child anything is just an extension of parenting.
2. The parent/teacher is being erratic or inconsistent. Kids need to know what to expect. Schedules are great tools for both teacher and student. They get everyone on the same page so they can know what to expect. Some adults really despise schedules and routines; they want to be spontaneous and free. Most kids, however, crave structure. They want to know what’s coming next. If every day is different, kids will become frustrated and more difficult to work with. Keep a consistent schedule and routine for your school days. That doesn’t mean that you can’t change things up on occasion or take an unscheduled field trip. It does mean that regular days should follow a regular order with predictable tasks and school work, if you want easy-going students.
3. The parent/teacher is stubborn and so is the child. Maybe “determined” is a better word. However, the meaning is the same. As the teacher, I might decide that something must be done and I am determined that it get done. I can have all kinds of reasons why I want the task done, such as: 1.) because I want to finish the book on time (i.e. the end of the school year); 2.) because I think the child needs extra practice in this area (i.e. math, handwriting, etc.); 3.) because I SAID SO. However, there may be more going on that might cause a clash of wills. Perhaps the child doesn’t understand a foundational principle or is sad about something or is hungry or… In any case, a clash of wills causes an eruption of emotions, usually anger and tears.
So, how can we all get along peacefully so that our school days flow smoothly and without frustration?
These are a few of the principles that we live and work by in the Johnson household:
1. We start with devotions and prayer. If one of our children has a prayer request, we can pray for it before we even begin our school day. Sometimes, a child will ask prayer for a better attitude or to get along better with a sibling. Sometimes, as the teacher, I ask my kids to pray for me… that I would be patient and kind. Prayer is a powerful force and God is an ever-present helper in times of need.
2. If someone begins to develop a bad attitude, they take that attitude to their room rather than disrupting everyone else with it. Sometimes the person with the bad attitude is me. We all need time outs sometimes, even us parents. I don’t see time-outs so much as a punishment as a time to cool down and regroup. It’s a good time to pray and catch up on Bible reading too. (Everyone in our family reads the Bible for 5+ minutes a day).
3. If a certain subject is troublesome for a child over and over again, we’ll take a step back and make some changes. Maybe we need to try a new curriculum. Or maybe a foundational skill has been glossed over and needs to be learned again. As an example, my 7yo dd was struggling in math for a month or two when she wasn’t before. It was beginning to feel like we were banging our heads against the wall. I pulled out a hundred chart and we went over the numbers up through 100 and looked at the logical nature of our numbering system that is based on 10. A lightbulb went on in her head. She kept the hundred chart tucked in her math book and referred to it as needed. Within a couple weeks, she didn’t need it anymore.
Similarly, we switched to a spelling app on the ipad for one of our kids, as the regular spelling book that we use – Spelling Power – just wasn’t working for her. Creativity and looking at a subject from a new angle goes a long way.
I’ve been homeschooling for 15 years. I am not more patient than you. I can get just as angry as anyone else. But I love homeschooling because we have systems in place that work for us. We step away from each other when we get angry; we pray and seek forgiveness; we follow a daily routine and schedule; we use the curricula that works best for each of our children. And I haven’t killed any of my kids yet!
Anything worthwhile takes effort. Homeschooling takes effort, but it is one of the most worthwhile endeavors that I have pursued in my life. My kids like it too.