Yesterday I wrote about the things we love about homeschool, but I can assure you that it’s not all sunshine and roses around here. Here are some of the struggles that we’ve met so far:
1. Other people – From the very first moment I publicly admitted that I was thinking of homeschooling, I was met with a barrage of opinions – some positive, some negative and it seemed like the negative ones were/are really negative. There were, honestly, some people who I knew would disagree with our choice, but were still people I genuinely admire and care about and so I sought them out to hear what they had to say. For various reasons, I trusted that what they would say and that they would say it in a fair and kind way. And that’s exactly what happened with those specific people. But there were still a lot of people who offered their unrequested opinion and for the most part, they were/are very bold in stating their disapproval. I can certainly see why so many homeschooling families are defensive. (And to answer the ever-present question: No, I don’t worry about socialization.)
(I must also say that our extended family has been very, very supportive, which I think is a big part of our success.)
2. The littles – The little kiddos have a very hard time understanding that the bigs are at home, but not available. I have special toys and books that are only for school time, and that holds their interest sometimes. I occasionally let them watch a special show on TV while I work with the big two. Sometimes I give them snacks to distract them. But trying to let them play together? Bah! Those two are like oil and water! There are many days when I feel like I’m a referee all.day.long. I have discovered, however, that if I let them play together for a short period of time and split them up before the bickering starts, I can keep them content for longer. When I split them up, I let them play independently in their rooms. That took some getting used to, especially for the baby who is convinced that our whole family was created to serve her. 🙂
3. Too much togetherness – My children are al.ways.with me. There is both good and bad here. I love being around to experience so much with them. I love watching them learn. I love that there are spontaneous cuddle sessions. But I also struggle with just wanting a few minutes to myself or not being touched all.the.time. Oh. And it’d be nice to pee alone at least once a day.
4. Balance – I think this must be parenting’s hardest facet. Trying to figure out how much to expect of them and how much to expect of me. Trying to decide at what point you stop school and just play. Trying to pick between things that need to be done and things you want to do. It really is every parent’s problem, I know. But sometimes it seems even bigger when we’re all here all the time. Like laundry and dishes and such. You’d think that with all of us here all day long, we’d eventually get the clothes put away. Not so much. But we’re trying. And it’s better than it used to be.
5. Organization – It takes a fair amount of planning and organization to keep things running smoothly for us. That may not be true for all homeschool families, but I know without a daily agenda, we’d just ramble through the day. I have roller carts for each student and their binders and books and papers are stacked up in the order that they’ll need them. The dry erase board has everyone’s daily To Do list and we check off one thing at a time. But that means that I always have to be one step ahead of them, and given my personality that sometimes means I’m getting tomorrow’s lessons prepped at 2am. I tried doing it as a batch on Sunday night, but taking it day-by-day has worked out so much better for us.
6. Worry – I worry, worry, worry about missing something. What if I don’t teach something critical? What if I teach something incorrectly? What if this whole homeschool thing ends up hurting them academically in the future? What if? What if? What if? Luckily Marshall is the master un-what-if-er, and he usually talks me down off the ledge when I get frustrated and/or weepy. He’s good like that.
7. Screen time – I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for limiting screen time at home. When they are with friends or grandparents or babysitters I don’t worry about it, but at home I like to keep control of the remote, iPods, and iPad. But with so much school work being online and extra games and learning tools online, I’ve really had to loosen up about it. I’ve had to be careful to not go the other way, actually! When they sit down and start playing a game (even an educational one), I tend to lose track of time and it’s bad for everyone. And I begin to justify it as ‘learning’ when really I’m just enjoying the down time. (I’m not saying all screen time is bad, but trying to figure out how much of what is still hard for me.)
8. Struggles – The hardest part to me so far is when they don’t get it, when they don’t understand. When I feel like I’ve explained it every way I know how and we’re still getting no where. It’s hard for me to not get frustrated with myself. It’s hard for me to not get frustrated with them. It’s just no fun. It has honestly only happened a few times, but when I see that blank stare coming back at me, I know we’ve got to back up and re-think it. And whew! That can wear a momma out!
Okay, okay…I’ve been thinking for a long time and I simply cannot come up with two more things. I’m sure there are other things that came up and I forgot about or will come up later, but we are all loving homeschool so much that the negatives don’t even come onto our radar. Sure, there are days that I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. And there are days that I think “Good LORD, what have I done?” And there are days when I just want to slam the book shut and walk away. But you know what? When that happens, we have the flexibility to close the book and go outside and play or change subjects or read or sing or have a dance party or make cookies or whatever we want to do and we do it and things seem a little better. And if we still aren’t at a place where I feel like we can get back to our studies, we just hit pause until the next day.
So homeschool isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for us. And I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’m sure that the things we’re learning and the memories we’re making will last a lifetime. And that, friends? Is what my heart-gut dreamed of all along.