This post was written by contributing writer Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Most homeschooling days are good. Some are great. And, some…well, some are just hard.
On those really hard days, it can help to remember all the things you love about homeschooling. Except, some days the things you love can be difficult to remember. A while back, Jamie wrote about the five things she loves about homeschooling.
I thought I might need a list of my own – for the hard days.
1. Spending time with my kids.
Yeah, on the not-so-good days, that could go on the list of “things I don’t like about homeschooling,” but the fact is, the vast majority of days, I love all the time that homeschooling allows me to spend with my kids. It’s a combination of the quantity, added to all those little moments that make me feel so blessed to be spending my life with these people.
Recently, I interrupted our Bible lesson to discuss a burning issue with my girls – the problem of “sheet marks” in nail polish that can result from painting your toenails to close to bedtime. You ladies know what I’m talking about, right? (And, yes, I would fuss at my girls for interrupting for that.)
My almost 13-year-old son made me laugh until he cried when he slapped his hand on his forehead, mumbled something about needing therapy from spending all his time with girls, and, then, proceeded to lament, in a mocking falsetto voice, all the problems associated with nail polish. I giggled over that for a week. I don’t want to miss the moments.
2. Learning alongside my children.
In all honesty, most days I’m learning as much as my kids are. I’m still reading aloud at least two books – a biography and a historical fiction – each unit with my younger two, as well as leading their science and history study. Many nights at dinner, I’m the one telling Dad what I learned in school today rather than the kids.
And, I’m not even going to try to pretend that I wasn’t inordinately pleased with myself for coming up with the right answer to my teenager’s Algebra II problem a couple of weeks ago. It was Algebra II, y’all! I haven’t done that stuff in nearly 30 years! And, I got the answer.
Without looking at the answer key!
Photo by anie2k
3. The weeks off!
We’re doing a six weeks on/one week off for the first time in our ten years of homeschooling this year and even the kids are asking why we didn’t do it sooner. It seems like whenever things are getting tough, we’re not too far from a break. We’d never have that kind of flexibility in a traditional school setting.
It’s nice to be able to schedule things like doctor and dentist appointments or hair cuts on our off weeks. They also give me a chance to catch up on housework and lesson plans, while still having time to do some fun family stuff.
4. Self-paced academics.
I have two kids who are working ahead in math…and two kids who have struggled with reading because they’re dyslexic. I love that we’ve never had to let their struggles with reading slow them down in other areas.
When my son was diagnosed several months ago, the list of classroom modifications we were given (for if he were in school) were things that we were already doing naturally – having me read aloud directions and more difficult reading passages, giving him more time on tests, and allowing him to dictate his answers.
My son is now receiving tutoring for his dyslexia. His tutor has been impressed with how quickly he’s progressed, especially given the fact that he was older when he started therapy. I firmly believe that part of the reason for his rapid progression is that, though reading has been a frustrating struggle for him, he hasn’t been in a classroom setting where he was made to feel “stupid” because of his struggles, so he hadn’t completely shut down when it came to reading.
5. Letting my kids explore their interests.
Granted, my kids could still follow their interests if they were in school, but homeschooling allows more time and flexibility for these things.
For example, my older daughter learned to knit during what would have been school time. A friend taught her during the time the older siblings hung out during the younger kids’ music classes. She’s also learned to sew, thanks to a friend of mine, and made herself an incredible cape – something I couldn’t have done!
My son has taken up blacksmithing. How cool is that?
He goes to the forge with a friend’s dad and most days it’s been during what would have been school time if he were in a more traditional school setting. He’s made several metal hooks, a ladle, a fire rake and shovel, and has had requests for trivets for Christmas gifts. It’s been an experience that I just don’t think he would have had if he were in school. Because people have been really impressed with the things he’s made, it’s also given him a huge confidence boost.
6. We can focus on character-building.
While academics will always be important to us, I love that homeschooling allows us time to focus on character-building. Because I’m with my kids so much, we have lots of opportunity to talk about things that they might not bring up otherwise just because I’m available when things are on their minds.
I’m also able to address character issues that I see as they interact with their friends and siblings. No, I don’t always stick my nose into their relationships. I believe that they need to learn to work things out on their own.
However, I can intervene when necessary or bring up the issue for discussion later on, based on what I witnessed. Does that mean that my kids never bicker or argue? I wish! Bickering and arguing tops the list for causes of the bad days, but I am thankful that the time that we spend together allows us to work through the personality conflicts that arise.
Thankfully, the bad days are far outnumbered by the good ones. What are some of the things that you love about homeschooling that you may need to remind yourself of on the hard days?