Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Homeschooling myths: patience

One of the comments homeschooling parents often hear is, "I don't have the patience to homeschool!" It seems to imply that the parents who do homeschool must possess extraordinary amounts of patience in order to do what they do.

So is it true? Are we little patron saints of patience, never to show our frustration or lash out like a sea captain yelling at his crew in a storm?

Not necessarily.

Yes, homeschooling takes patience. It tests your patience as well. But I am quite certain that every homeschooling parent is not blessed with some extra measure of patience that everyone else lacks. There is no prerequisite patience limit you have to possess in order to get your "I'm a weird homeschooler" card. We are regular moms and dads, and sometimes we are able to take that deep breath, keep our cool and handle a situation well. And sometimes we're just fighting to not lose our sh*t in front of the kids. It happens.

Getting your kid to practice their math facts or write a sentence or read a chapter is not much different than anything else us parents ask our kids to do. I would guess people aren't so much daunted by the idea of having to get their child's cooperation for schoolwork, as much as having to get their child's cooperation for schoolwork in addition to everything else - and knowing how hard it can be to get kids to finish their chores and do their homework before they turn on the XBOX.

Part of the beauty of homeschooling is that, when schoolwork becomes a drudgery, we have the option of taking a look at why, and changing things if needed. We chose a math program that doesn't have tons of worksheets filled with endless problems. We play a lot of math games to practice math facts and other concepts. Partway through this school year, we found that our language arts plan was a little dull, not only for David, but for me to teach as well. So we changed things up, and found a system that works better - and there is a lot less complaining.

That doesn't mean that every time your homeschooled kid decides they don't like something, you throw it out. There are those times when you have to push them through, even when they complain or moan or insist it is impossible. It isn't always easy, but often when you get over that bump in the road, you can remind them of what they achieved and share a sense of accomplishment with them.

Once you get into a routine with "doing school" at home, it becomes an expected and (gasp!) even looked-forward to part of the day. Do my kids always want to work on spelling or do copywork? No, not really. And do they complain and whine some of the time? Totally. "I don't waaaaant to do schoooooool....." But overall, doing our schoolwork has become a regular part of our routine, and most of the time we enjoy what we're doing. They do push back and complain and make it hard for me - sometimes. And I do lose my cool and yell and give myself a time out - sometimes. Other times, things go smoothly, and when it doesn't, I do get a little glimmer of a patience halo. But not always.

Trust me - if you've thought about homeschooling and your main hang up is the patience thing, don't sweat it. You might be surprised at how eager your kids can be to learn when you're able to tailor their curriculum to their abilities, needs and interests. A little patience is helpful, yes - but that's the case with parenting in general. You don't have to be a patience superhero to homeschool.

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