When I started homeschooling my son in the early 90’s, I really thought I had it all together. I had worked in a Christian school for numerous years, and I knew the way things worked. The most important thing a classroom needed was order.
I bought a wooden classroom desk and chair for Tim, and a wall mounted dry erase board for me. Day after day, he would sit at his desk and obediently do every page of work I would assign to him (and I assigned lots of coloring, cutting, writing and reading). I was determined to make my son an over-achiever.
Then toward the middle of the school year, something happened. I would walk into the room and find Tim sleeping at his desk. When I would wake him to finish working, he would burst out in tears. All of a sudden, he HATED coloring…AND books!! The only thing he wanted to do was lay on the floor and play with his cars and trucks. Every school morning was a nightmare – and he was only in Pre School!!!
That was when I started to pray and reflect. Why is this happening? Is this normal? Is Tim the problem, or is it me? What do I do? Here are the conclusions I came to (they set a wonderful and successful foundation for my homeschooling for years down the road).
1) Homeschool is NOT the same as an institutionalized school – therefore, I need to relax a bit on the formalities. When a teacher is working with numerous kids, there has to be a certain order or chaos will reign – but when it is just me and my two kids at HOME, I cater to what THEIR needs are – not a Christian School classroom’s needs.
2) When I am working with a curriculum guide in my homeschool, I must remember that it is just a ‘guide’. If I see that my child is well versed in the concept being taught, I don’t need to give him 10 pages a day covering that SAME topic. I can use that time for something more important.
3) Why am I such a drill sergeant when in school? Is it for my benefit or for the well being of my children? Am I pushing my kids to be overachievers because it makes me (the homeschool mom) look good in front of others? And If I don’t receive that recognition and acceptance from others – does it cause me to educationally beat up on my kids? When I teach – it should be for the benefit of my child – not for MY self gratification.
4) Children learn best when they are enjoying themselves. What methods can I put into my teaching that will make my kids enjoy learning?
5) Am I pushing too hard? I must take note of my kids reactions during the school day. Do they seem really distracted, bored or overly tired? Children’s body language will tell a lot about whats going on inside – learn how to watch for it, read it and assess it.
The above is not just for preschoolers or elementary school kids – but I used these methods all the way through high school as well. Having a successful homeschool takes work and tons of effort – you’ve got this!!
‘The principal goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done’ Jean Piaget