A week or two back, I wrote a post: Se7en At School: What’s Working for us Right Now… and a couple of folk contacted me to ask about how our schooling looks so ideal… Do I not have students who cause a rumpus, any who might not want to be eager learners… any who may well not actually be playing the part…
I am going to digress a little: When I was a child we you used to spend school holidays on a farm, in an area that most folk would have called a desert… we did a lot of hiking and exploring, and the critical thing to know about was where to find water on any trail. Every time we got to water, my mother would take a photograph. She has albums full of pictures of sparkling water, mountain streams and waterholes for swimming in… in a desert. Folks looking at our photographs would always think we went to a place with endless shady plants and beautiful pools to swim in – they would naturally think that those photographs represented the norm and not the exception.
So when you look at our homeschool photographs… those pockets of spontaneous fun on our instagram feed… those are often “the waterholes” in our desert. While our school is pretty ideal there are may long periods of time where it appears as if we do no work, there are times when my kids drag their feet and we appear to be learning NOTHING!!! But in retrospect those times are always a time when we are consolidating what we have learnt. There are many, many days when nothing goes according to plan… though I can not blame that on homeschooling, that is just how life is, often requiring us to be a lot more spontaneous than we want to be!!!
I have a mental image in my head about what I do and don’t want to blog about… and I will never say anything untoward about my kids on our blog… I will never mention monstrous tantrums and we have had a few; I will never mention the child that interrupts others’ school continuously on a daily basis. I also won’t mention the terribly naughty things they do – no matter how funny they are, after the fact… or the who and the why that lead me to post about Alexander coming to visit… My kids will grow up and look back on our blog and I want them to see the happy story of their life.
So yes, we have our fair share of collapsed scholars, not to mention troublesome students in our homeschool… but I see our school as a training ground, where my creative input can actually help them to grow up to be fine adults one day. I may not achieve that… but if I had spent the last few years blogging about every toddler tantrum in our home – I would feel a lot less enthusiastic about my kids and our home than the way I do. I think folks are more interested in reading about what is working for us than what isn’t…
That isn’t to say that I don’t write about what is going on, or that I don’t share the truth… but just as I wouldn’t want my children to tell the world about my less than virtuous moments, I am not about to reveal theirs. So I do share the truth and I do quite often reveal the good, the bad and the ugly about homeschooling… I have a feeling that as homeschooling mums we very often define our entire relationship with our children on how our school is going with them… I am probably only going to write the next line once in my life: School isn’t everything. When school isn’t working for a child I often think “nothing is working,” can you hear me sigh!!! But that is often so far from the truth and when I take a pause and look at that child over the whole day or the whole week… then “hello” things aren’t nearly as bad as I envisioned!!!
Just for a moment, as a homeschool mom, imagine your child is in school most of the day, then you would only be spending dinner time and evenings with them. Their teachers would be coping with all the mad, crazy developmental stuff that is associated with kids, and is often completely age appropriate and not that bad after all. How would your relationship with your child be then? I have to say that none of my kids are perfect – at all!!! Neither am I!!! But, I am glad that I am the one to help them when they just can’t sit still for years on end; when they can not listen to a story quietly; when they feel a need to hum at the table and drive everyone else to total distraction. In regular school, I have a feeling most of my kids would be assessed or plonked in the “special stream,” they may gather a few labels onto the ends of their names and they wouldn’t be Phd either. Frankly, that’s what families are for – training grounds to help our kids deal with their own special differences… encouraging them to learn, where others would say they are unteachable. Helping them get along together, when you would rather tear your hair out!!!
Often the solution to what seems to be a major schooling crisis is merely a child who is not interested in the work they are doing, I can make it more interesting… not absorbed by a project I have set, give them a choice of projects – or they really just want to be elsewhere… let them go… amazing amounts of school and reading can be done up a tree or under a bed. The solution is very often a simple one… let your kid jump while they do their math – they won’t jump forever… trust me on that!!! Let your kid tell you elaborate stories while they work on a painting – no one ever said language arts had to be at a table with a pen and pencil in hand looking up endless words in the dictionary (though some kids may well love that!!!). In fact, if learning about the Romans means reading every Asterix book for weeks at a stretch then so be it!!! That’s the point, these are my students in our school and together we will do our best… though sometimes our best is really not much!!!
And yes, sometimes a school problem is a good old discipline problem… the kid that just won’t play the game – find out what makes them tick, work with them… it is worth it in the long run, it is worth seeing them reach their own potential. Seriously my kids have totally astonished me often, doing things that I never thought they could. And then again, there are many times when I expect perfection and their potential is a lot less than I was hoping for, but that is my problem and then I have to readdress my expectations – because I for one don’t want to be disappointed in my kids on a daily basis… I want them shine and they can… maybe not academically, maybe not as the most eager dish-washers or laundry folders… but there is something that each and every one of us is good at…
My challenge as a homeschool mum is often not in the imparting of knowledge… but rather in finding some crystal clear water-holes to refresh ourselves in… In the vast desert: the humdrum that homeschooling can be, if we aren’t actively seeking out the good stuff.