Friday, August 10, 2012

Pulling your homeschool out of a ditch (part 1)

This week, I set out to find JOY in homeschooling.  Last week, I had written these very words:
I hate homeschooling.
I understand that homeschooling is NOT an easy path.  It is full of hardwork and challenges.  However, there is a point of dread, anguish, anxiety, and bitterness that a mom can reach in homeschooling, and this is not an acceptable place to be.  That's the point when something's gotta give. I've discovered (the hard way) signs of the homeschool breaking point:
  • Do you go to bed with knots in your stomach?
  • Do you wake up in the night, worried, and then can't get back to sleep?
  • Are you overwhelmed by guilt that you are failing your children (not just the occasional, seasonal doubt, but a doubt that is draining you daily)?
  • Are you angry and bitter with your children, wishing they would perform better?
  • Do you think mean thoughts about your children and your life as a mother (we all feel this way occasionally, but is it draining you daily?)
  • Do you meet every school day with dread, and feel like you are just dragging yourself and your children through the work to be done? 
  • Are you exhausted, physically and mentally, and feel like you have nothing left to give your family every day?
  • Do you resent your children and spouse for being so needy?
  • Do you just want to get away from everyone for awhile, shut yourself away after school hours and not come out again (ok, so I think this happens to some of us reclusive moms daily, lol!  But again, is it beyond your normal introverted needs?)
  • Have you lost sight of your own goals and hobbies, because there is no time for those?
Also, some of those things will be normal for a mom of a newborn (I always lose sight on goals and hobbies for the first 1-2 years after the birth of a baby - a few basic necessities, like sleep, become the goal).

It is a difficult thing to admit, isn't it?  But I think this is the point at which homeschooling becomes unhealthy, and decisions need to be made. 
Homeschooling Checklist:
  • Why did you chose to homeschool?  Are those reasons still valid?
  • Is there another school choice that would be better for your family?
Let's face it:  sometimes, homeschooling doesn't work out for a family.  I have met families that had reached the breaking point, and finally made the choice to send the children to public or private school.  I've seen great relief in some of those families.  Sometimes, homeschooling IS still a valid choice for a family, but they need to change HOW they are doing it.  It might mean a different method, different curriculum, a co-op (or dropping a co-op), doing some part time public schooling or online schooling, etc. I'll share my answers to the above:
We chose to homeschool for several reasons. 
Educational
We saw how our public schools labeled children and how average or remedial classes did a poor job of educating. We experienced that some of the advanced classes in school were very good; however, with student labeling and streamlining, very few students would receive that excellent education.  We also saw how much time was wasted in school, and how much time was not spent on the student's personal strengths and goals.  We saw how much time was being spent teaching to the test, and the whole cycle of "cram, test, forget".  We wanted our children to receive the best possible education.
Religious
As Christians, we felt a responsibility to bring our children up ourselves, and to train them.
Personal
When I was 11, I entered 6th grade Middle School.  The environment radically changed: now there were boys and girls getting very physical in the hallways, kids were smoking and swearing, we were given afterschool dances where boys and girls became very physical, and bullying was a daily part of my life.  I look at my own 11 year old daughter and I cannot imagine placing her in such an environment!  I can't imagine other 11 and 12 year olds looking at my daughter sharply, attacking her looks, and shoving her around.  Maybe she wouldn't experience bullying, but even so, I don't want to put her in an environment where boys and girls are so physical and where swearing, smoking, and drugs become daily options.
In answer to the second question: No, another schooling choice (public or private) is not an option for us.  For us, even if I am failing my children daily, at least they are not in that negative environment.  I know that even if the educational content of a school is superior, a child will not really be receiving it if she is fearful every day that she is being taught.
If this is your answer, too, then sending the kids to school is NOT an option!  Of course, there are things we need to do everyday, and we don't have to like every single thing.  Toilets need to be scrubbed and drains need to be unclogged.  These are not enjoyable jobs.  I think there is a balance that can be struck, however, between drudgery jobs and joyful jobs.  Attitude is important, so I think there is a way to bring in a certain joy to the drudgery jobs, too.  I'll admit, though, that it didn't matter how much I tried to be joyful in my jobs, it just wasn't happening.  Sometimes you need to change how you are doing the jobs to add in the joy.  Which is more joyful: scrubbing the toilet with a toothbrush or a toilet brush?
To be continued....

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