When it comes to homeschooling, have you ever felt like quitting? I think if we could all sit around a table and talk together, we would be surprised at how much we have in common when it comes to this idea! We would laugh with deep relief as we discovered we weren’t the only ones harboring thoughts of an easier path. . . And then, with the freedom that comes from being real, we could actually think honestly about why we homeschool.
For me, my decision to homeschool came when I was pregnant with our first child. A friend handed me a book about homeschooling, and I found the whole concept utterly entrancing! Pictures of perfect days with perfect children danced through my head. . . You probably know how long that image lasted! You’re absolutely right, it popped after just a few days of teaching my kindergarten student at home (with two younger children who kept me hopping). I began to discover that kids learn differently than I expected, they struggled with things I enjoyed, and they enjoyed things that were outside my comfort zone.
And, being a novice homeschooler, I followed the model of school in my head. We had a desk, an apple, and an American flag. I knew when we would have reading, writing and recess. I had all my ducks in a row, but my son wasn’t interested in ducks.
After a month of struggling with increasing difficulties, like making boring textbooks palatable, I was struck by the question my son asked. “Mom, do we HAVE to keep doing this?” I quietly put all the kindergarten books away, and discreetly went back to doing the things we had been doing before: reading fun books, playing with play dough, taking walks, cooking together, playing with music, and enjoying everyday life.
It took three years of trying this start-and-stop approach to homeschool before it dawned on me that he loved learning a LOT more when we quit doing artificial, formal school. When he had a chance to really engage with material, to freely ask as many questions as he wanted and dig into answers, and to follow his interests down the rabbit trails, my son loved learning.
Which brings me back to the idea of quitting. In the three years that I tried to force him into a narrow educational box, I felt like quitting every day. It was hard, it was distasteful, and I was failing miserably as a “teacher.” But, to my utter surprise, when we finally discovered the freedom to learn in ways that were appealing to my son, homeschool became an adventure and a joy.
And, who wants to quit when you love what you’re doing?
Remember, dear friends, stay relational!