By word and by action, we have told our kids that school is unpleasant, and homeschooling is probably a bad idea.
- We create a restrictive environment with desks and chairs, requiring kids to sit still and be quiet.
- We put pressure on them to learn at an arbitrary pace created by an age-graded public education system.
- The materials we provide are disconnected from real life and about as interesting as watching paint dry.
- We imply that virtuous behavior is difficult, and anything enjoyable is probably bad.
- We dichotomize playing and learning.
- We are stressed about choosing curriculum and methods, openly questioning whether or not we are doing the right thing by homeschooling.
Is it any wonder our kids can become disenchanted with homeschooling?
If you are trying to recreate a traditional classroom at home, you need to pause to consider why you removed your kids from school in the first place, if all you are going to do is school-at-home. It may be time to think about deschooling.
If you are comparing your children to siblings, or other kids their age, put that shoe on your foot, and see how it feels to be measured by peers. Then consider if this measuring method encourages or discourages you. Find ways to evaluate your child's progress by seeing them as unique individuals, helping them hone their strengths and address their weaknesses.
If you are dependent on traditional textbooks, what are you doing to connect what they learn to every day life? Are you giving them freedom to explore concepts outside the confines of the Table of Contents and organized lesson plans? Schedule more free reading time, go on some field trips, and take your school out into the real world.
If you keep telling kids that good behavior is boring and hard, and anything fun is a waste of time, they will never delight in learning, or feel satisfaction in exploration and discovery. By the way - do you really believe that virtue is dull and joyless, and learning is a chore? Show kids that virtue is its own reward, and help them find fulfillment in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.
If you express your doubts and indecision about homeschooling to your children, you will inevitably cause them to feel anxious and uncertain as well. You don't have to act like an arrogant know-it-all, but hand-wringing is unproductive and undermines your parental credibility. Children need to feel a certain amount of confidence in their parents, especially when they are too young to understand the complexities of parenting and education.
It's one of those advantages that is also a disadvantage to homeschooling - the close family relationships that result from quantity time spent in each other's company. Although we don't sit at the kitchen table 24/7, it is difficult it is to hide your worries and insecurities from your kids when you are more frequently together. But if you have serious doubts about your ability to homeschool, your methods, the curriculum you've chosen, or how to fit home education into your lifestyle, it's time to
1) pray and seek strength and wisdom from the Lord
2) talk to your spouse or trusted friend
3) find a support group or mentor to provide encouragement and reinforcement for awhile.
Sometimes when we take a good look at the crop we are harvesting, we begin to understand the seeds we've sown. As difficult as it may be, try to view your homeschool environment objectively, and see if some of your homeschool struggles can be resolved with some simple adjustments of your attitudes and actions before you start trying to address your child's behavioral and learning issues.