Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Will The Real Homeschoolers Please Stand Up?

You see it everywhere. Homeschoolers winning spelling bees, speaking two and three languages by the 6th grade, being literate in Latin, joining Mensa by the age of 7, outwitting professional public speakers in the debate club and graduating high school at thirteen.

Homeschool mothers proudly wear their denim jumpers and roam around curriculum fairs making sure they have the perfect geometry package to compliment little Johnny's advanced math program while trying to decide which science DVD will give little Janie the edge during standardized testing. All the while eating homemade granola out of biodegradable baggies.

Homeschool mothers are not supposed to cry unless it is tears of joy at the fact that their precious Buford got accepted to MIT a year early and on a full scholarship.

And then there is my house. This mother has cried twice this week alone about a son who just cannot seem to "get" math (with our fourth curriculum in three years), a baby who seems to get lost in the fray and spends way too much time in the bouncy seat, a bright daughter who does not get as much educational time as she should while quickly gaining speed on her 2nd grade brother in skill and comprehension, and a 4 year old who pretty much entertains herself during "school". Oh, and I do not own one single denim jumper.

You never hear about 8 year olds having full on temper tantrums and how to quell them or discipline them, nor when to start worrying about reading ability (you just are told not to rush it). You don't get to see the massive amounts of dust piling up in every room and the unread pile of mail in the kitchen. Homeschool mothers always seem clean and well nourished to me, while I fight for time to take a 5 minute shower and eat standing at the counter trying to load the dishwasher simultaneously. I simply cannot be the only woman who doubts if this the path the Lord really has ordained.

Yet, I know that it is. I know this is what is meant for my life and for my children. The thought of sending my children to public school makes me panic, but so does the thought of raising kids that never got what they needed educationally, emotionally and ethically.

So why is it that you never hear of the families that, while for the most part are having a good time at this venture, still struggle at times? Why are we so afraid to let others know that this homeschool gig is not perfect? Are we afraid of being judged and have that all knowing, "I told you so", thrust upon us by well meaning friends and family? To have to admit we do not have all the answers (even though we do have the socialization question nailed!)?

I searched site after site looking for articles about mothers who do not have it all in control (temper, schedule and juggling abilities) and came up sadly short. There are a plethora of articles about the successes of homeschooling and we all know they are valid, but I want to see others that contain less then glamorous stories about mothers who still struggle with their own sinful nature and have children they would like to throttle at times. Because that's where I am right now.

I do love the fact that I can homeschool. I want my children to be those bright students courted by Mensa, while they eat homemade granola out of a biodegradable bag. I want all the good things for them and 85% of the time (I refuse to lie and say the typical 99.9%) they are wonderful and obedient children whose minds are on fire for learning. But there is the 15% (20%?) of the time that tempers flare, tears flow, and things get hurled across the room.

I can't imagine that we are the only ones.


Susie said...

LOL! at the pictures you created of the "perfect" homeschool mom and her offspring. In all my years with our homeschool learning group (and it's going on 10), I have yet to meet one of those advanced kids. I think they are few and far between.

I think most of the ones you read about online are made up to make us feel "bad" about our "average Joes." You know like June Cleaver did with her perfect house, waistline, and dinners each night? *wink*

You're not alone. My 10-year-old still has temper tantrums and the 7-year-old conveniently "forgets" what we've told him to do...and both kids love to bicker and hurt each other's feelings sometimes. (Go to Focus on the Family's "Focus on Your Child" website. They have lots of helpful resources.)

I think it's a lot for us to expect our kids to love school all the time because I don't know about you...but I certainly didn't. And that didn't change when I entered the workforce either. *grin*


Angie said...

Being that you are me (yes, I know... you are 13 months YOUNGER)... you know I know how you feel. When I first pulled Big and Little Brother, it was AWEFUL. They competed with each other, faught and I couldn't get a word in edgewise. Finally, I had to send Little Brother back to PS. What I found is that Big Brother has a severe learning disability and he has MAJOR anxiety about doing work.

Through lots of working and struggling, I have determined that it doesn't work when I fight it. If we are having a particularly bad day, I make sure we read together, we discuss a subject that I know interests him (animals always work) and let him do some artwork. Then, at dinner, I have him help - making sure to ask him about measurements and stuff (MATH). Math is our hardest subject and we have only completed about 1/4 of our curriculum - but we do "other" math everyday.

I know that things will be harder when Little Brother rejoins our "school" next year, but I know we can do it (you too!). As a bonus, The Princess has come home too - and doing so well! It is amazing to see her mind work.

My biggest hurdle was letting go of my expectations (that were based on those picture perfect images I had of homeschoolers) and be ok with what was comfortable for us. Now, I am just trying to have fun in the University of God's Creation... if the only thing they come away from this with is a hearty love for Him, I will feel like I have succeeded.

Love you bunches and sending many hugs your way.

Heather said...

Oh, you poor thing! I wish we lived closer. I'd come over with a bottle of red wine or, if you don't drink, some Darjeeling.

Girl, give yourself a break! You're a stay at home mom. You're homeschooling. You're fostering a new baby! You have a ton of stress right now.

I have periodic meltdowns. I think we all do. Before our spring break I was completely burnt out. If I legally could have, I would have ended our school year then and not started up again until fall, LOL!

Thank goodness for breaks though. I am feeling rested and ready to finish our year. I did make a few adjustments with both boys to streamline their days. Would it be possible to take two weeks off?

LOL about the denim jumpers. My dh sure hates that look!


Mrs. Sam said...

Hey sweet sister...you are NOT alone...even here in cold winter laden Canada, tempers flare in the sweet rest of homeschool life. We are winter weary folk and its starting to show. Just so you know, my oldest son who attends a public highschool, is stuck in the middle of the battle. Every mans battle...every christians battle. And he was homeschooled. and his average is 70.8% can't quite get to 80...and I"M OKAY with it. Be okay with your kids and know...if God called you to it, He'll get you through it.

Carolyn said...

You know I'm standing up! You know that none of the stuff you mentioned goes on in house. (You feed your kids so much better then I feed my kids!)It has to do with pride. We want people to think we have it all together, because we think everyone else has it all together. We don't want to look bad and we do want to have it all together. I just think that it is impossible if you homeschool to have it all together. I know, I keep trying and don't even come close to having it all together. I wish I could just keep up with one thing on my list each day. Your not alone!

Jamie said...

Oh Angel...yes I am there too. Not the picture perfect homeschooler and certainly not the denim jumper wearer. Yesterday I wore the tightest shorts (in my home)! What would the homeschool models say!?!? Things that God calls us to do are not easy...whether its homeschooling or whatever. Somehow we need to figure out how to find His strength (if you figure it out let me know). I deal with tantrums too. My three year old gets almost ignored while I try to work with the other 2. Things get thrown in this house often...and often by the mom...It doesn't seem there's enough time in the day to do it all but I think as long as we do what's important (what GOD shows us is important for our family and each child) that is ok. HE will see our children through. They don't have to be geniuses. That's not why I'm homeschooling. I'd love my children to be smart, yeah, but its way deeper than that. Hope that makes sense. Now I need to try to clean the mess in the kitchen. Whew!

Michelle said...

I think what Carolyn said is true.

HS is one of the most stressful circumstances a woman can find herself in, mostly because the expectations on her become so much greater. Some of it comes from a desire to do what's best for the family in all ways, and we don't like to see any of that slip.

I question my decision every day and feel completely pulled in two diverse directions most of the time.

I just hope I'm doing the right thing.

Lea said...

Thank you, from a home school mom to be. It is so easy to only picture the wonderful moments in my mind, when thinking of homeschooling our two. It is good for me to read a post like this, as it helps to set more realistic expectations of what it will be like. Thanks for sharing.