Ever think about quitting homeschooling?
Yeah. Me too. The question is . . . when you get to that point, what do you do next?
Take a look at a note from a mom who is right at the crossroads.
I am homeschooling my 2 very active boys. Age 7 and 5 and I am stuck. I think the biggest reason I am stuck is that I taught special education in the public school system for 9 years and I just have in my mind how our school day “should look” and it doesn’t fit and honestly homeschooling is really frustrating and I don’t like it.
I just can’t seem to break out of that and embrace what works best for us! I also think I have “too many” ideas and things I want to cover and have trouble focusing on what is best.
Anyway…. I would love your thoughts and prayers.
Dear Losing Heart,
I have SO been where you are. I understand your heavy heart.
You might expect I’ll give you a pep talk saying “Never give up! You can’t surrender! The collapse of family structure is on the line” and so on. But those talks tend to heap loads of guilt on someone who’s simply looking for solutions. My guess is you already have guilt (It’s a mommy’s way). The truth is you can give up and it would not be the end of the world. I won’t join the ranks of those who tell parents that if they quit homeschooling they’ve failed.
All that said, I still don’t believe you need to give up. There is so much of value in the homeschooling life that I’d hate to see you and your boys lose out on. So we’ll go straight discussion B.
When I first began homeschooling, I tried my best to make my school look and walk and talk like a traditional classroom. That was my model. I didn’t think it was “a” way to teach; I thought it was “the” way to teach, the only way. After all, if it wasn’t, why would teaching schools teach future teachers to use it? Thankfully I stuck in there, and with each passing year, my classroom grew more and more relaxed, less and less structured, more and more able to follow the gifts and interests of my children. This is a transition that almost every homeschooling mom/teacher must make. We all start with what we know. A few continue with the traditional model, but they are rare, and I believe in doing so, they lose out on the many truly glorious options available to them and their children.
Here’s the bad news: moms who’ve been trained as teachers have the hardest time finding new models. You’ve already expressed this awareness. But you need to know you’re not alone in this. It’s hard for everyone. It’s especially hard for teachers.
Keep in mind, the traditional model isn’t a bad one IF you have large classrooms sizes and more kids coming up the ranks. If your goal is to process a lot of children through a system, this system truly isn’t a bad one, but . . . you have to let some other things go. You can’t follow the strengths of the individual child. There isn’t time. There are too many other kids to consider. It’s an okay system for moving groups en masse through a process.
However . . .
- If a particular student takes an interest in rocketry and all the physics behind it, nothing can be done, because the whole class doesn’t share the interest AND . . . it’s not on the lesson plan.
- If a particular student has a gift for writing and would love to delve into Shakespeare and all the unfamiliar richness of the older language, nothing can be done, because the whole class doesn’t share the interest AND . . . it’s not on the lesson plan.
- If a particular child shows an early interest in chemistry and would love to play with a lab kit, learning about reactions and properties, nothing can be done, because the whole class doesn’t share the interest AND . . . it’s not on the lesson plan.
- If a particular student just isn’t getting multiplication facts and needs three times the usual time allotment to master it, nothing can be done, because the whole class doesn’t share the need AND . . . it’s not on the lesson plan.
We move onward for the good of the majority. And it makes sense to do so. Holding 25 kids back because of the needs or interests of 1 child doesn’t make sense.
But in homeschooling, it’s not about the majority. It’s about one child at a time.
You can follow delights. You can follow interests. You can address challenges.
You can do pretty much anything that teaches a child that learning is fun and wonderful and lifelong.
Before you give up, I would suggest you try different approach. Your kids are so young that you can relax. You couldn’t possibly screw up so badly that they would lose out.
So if you’re going to experiment, try it now.
How about a unit study that focuses on something that absolutely delights them?
Make models, Collect samples. Go on field trips. Watch kids documentaries. Read biographies of people who are into this subject. Role play.
And perhaps most importantly, find another homeschooling mom who has already made that transition and see if you can shadow her in her schooling for a week.
Join together for a time.
Share the school week or month.
Watch what she does differently.
Give yourself permission to step away from traditional, even if only for a month.
When I first began homeschooling I collected Scope and Sequence documents from around the country. Public schools. Private schools. Expensive prep schools. Gifted schools. Montessori schools. I put them all together and studied them to get a sense of the most comprehensive scope and sequence I could formulate for my own school. And I made an amazing discovery. Other than a few essentials in learning to read, and of course math, there wasn’t a clear path. Some schools studied earth science in 5th grade and others studies life science. Some studied Ancient Egyptians while others were learning about Thomas Jefferson. Some learned metaphors and similes while others were learning about proper citations. For almost everything, there was no clear chronology of learning.
This was very freeing for me. I realized that as long as they got the same information into their heads by the time they graduated, the method and sequence of how they got it could be completely of my choosing!
I was free to make learning delicious.
This should liberate you from designing your school based on how it “should look.”
Instead, apply a new method–
What would you need to do for your child to say “THAT was wonderful! Can we do more?”
There it is.
That should be your method.
That should be your guide.
If you start with that idea and changed just ONE lesson in your day, you would see the difference.
I suspect that soon you would change another . . . and another.
And before you know it, learning in your school is delicious . . . and you’d never want to stop.
QUESTION: What about you? What are some ways you make learning delicious in your house?
Learn more about the author Carol Barnier
Want more of Carol? Check out Tongue, Be Thou Loosed