“Mommy, I’m bored. Would you print out a math worksheet for me?”
This request from my youngest while I was cooking breakfast this morning led to an impromptu multiplication explanation (NOT a lesson) using the raw eggs that were sitting on the counter. It lasted maybe two minutes as we discussed how multiplication is really just fast addition and that 3 x 4 rows can also be viewed as 4 x 3. Alternate routes to the same answer.
Compare this to the scene I experienced with my first child at about the same age. Jacob is sitting in an actual school desk in our basement. He is working on a math worksheet. He doesn’t want to do it, but I insist. He cries and pouts, but to no avail. I am doing this for him. This is the way homeschooling has to go. Right? He must comply, or so the “authorities on homeschooling” tell me. He sits there for hours – all afternoon, through dinner. I bring him a peanut butter sandwich. He eats, but still, he sits.
Finally, he breaks and completes the worksheet – which took him maybe ten minutes. I won. Right? Or did I just severely damage my relationship with him? The one in which he trusts me to keep him safe. What did I just do? He was trying to tell me something by refusing to do the work and I was not listening. I could not hear him.
Homeschooling Meant Butting Heads and Tears
One problem with the way I used to homeschool is that my role as parent and teacher got confused. I thought my role was to make sure the kids did their schoolwork – working through the different curricula I brought home. I was the enforcer more than anything else because the kids fought me. We were always butting heads and having a contest of wills. This was a far cry from the loving, supportive parent I wanted to be. But I did not know any better.
Deep down, which is more important – my ongoing relationship and bond with my child or that he learns a math fact some stranger decided my kid needs to know at a certain age?
Not all kids are even physically developed yet to be able to read or do math until they are older. Their wiring just isn’t finished. Trying to get them to do something they are not ready for is futile. Like walking into a brick wall over and over – you are going to get bruised.
Kids are born natural learners. They are curious and excited about the world. If you allow that curiosity to continue, rather than stuffing it into a box of set knowledge, they will learn. Maybe they don’t learn the same information at the same time as other kids. So what?
It is so much easier to learn and retain information when you are interested in the subject. In that case, acquiring the knowledge and remembering it is fun and comes easily. The neural pathways are open. Compare that to trying to learn something you don’t have the least bit of interest in. It is very difficult.
How important is your home life? Is it peaceful? Do you listen to your kids when they tell you they don’t want to do certain work? How would you feel if you were treated the way you are treating your kids? Would you put up a fight? Dig in your heels?
My point here is that if you are finding homeschooling difficult for your family, take a step back and reevaluate what is going on. It doesn’t have to be hard. It is supposed to be a positive thing. You can unplug from societal expectations and do something different for your kids.
Yes, there are certain things my kids need to know to survive the world. But what are they at the most basic level? For me, I wanted my kids to first have good character. That covers a lot. Second, they need to know how to find out whatever information they need.
I forced my older kids to read a lot when they were young. I’m a reader and love it. I thought I was doing the right thing by them. The result: yes, they are excellent readers, but they don’t read much anymore. They don’t really like it because I shoved it down their throats.
I shoved learning and education down their throats and into their brains. None of us liked the process and it resulted in a lot of fighting and tears on school days.
There Is A Better Way to Homeschool
I wish someone had told me years ago that there was another way. A way that brings peace to the family, a way that allows natural curiosity to eventually be coaxed back out of hiding. A way to learn that we do naturally as adults. A way for them to learn what they like and don’t like.
It involves trust. And this was the hard part for me because I wasn’t taught this ever. When we started on this alternate path of education, it was scary because, as my husband put it, “What if it doesn’t work?” But it does work, although it took a while for us to recover from our former homeschooling ways. Took time to repair the damage that was caused to the family unit.
Our home and family life took a complete turnaround when we implemented this new way of life and learning. We finally had peace. The kids were happy, the daily drama simply gone.
Instead, we now have creative space, full of potential, which allows our youngest to ask to do math, not because we force her, but because she wants to, which makes it fun.
If you would like more information on how to achieve happy kids and a peaceful home, go here.
Message me privately on my Facebook page if you would like to hear more about what we do and how we went about changing our life.