As I write this, my daughter has just arose from her bed, an hour past the time when I first told her to wake up and a good two hours since her alarm clock went off. She's 11, and the source of great joy and laughter--and the source of great aggravation and tear-filled days. She can make homeschool so fun and exciting--and she can also make it just plain hard. Harder than it needs to be.
Do you feel me?
I want to be able to take her on exciting and educational field trips, full of inspiration and fun, and I'd love to do interesting crafts and projects with her--but with her attitude, just doing textbook work is like pulling teeth without the numb shot. So we don't do many field trips or special days because, when we do them, they feel like I'm rewarding behavior that I'd rather not reward.
I have this vision of our homeschool is supposed to be: one of encouragement and discipleship, where my daughter wants to learn and enjoys learning, and I enjoy being her guide on this journey. But on difficult days in which she cops a pre-teen attitude or is intent on running me over while she drives the struggle bus, it's anything but enjoyable or encouraging.
How to handle a hard day
Honestly, the best way I've found to handle a hard day -- or a hard season -- is to get Laura's dad involved. Often, a call or, like this morning, a text, from him often can persuade her to turn her act around and do her work without sass. Parents must be on the same page with homeschooling (and parenting) or the ship is sunk.
Other ways I handle hard days are to take breaks, have conversations about expectations, and make sure my child understands that I am her mother, and she will treat me with respect. We allow the television shows our kids watch influence them too much, and they mimic what they see on television: kids who know more than their parents; weak and ineffective parents who allow their kids to run roughshod over them; or children who have too much say in the goings-on in a household. You are the parent; be the parent. It's one thing to ask for your child's opinion on things; it's quite another to allow the child, who developmentally is not ready, to make sweeping declarations about how the household will be run.
In the conversations I have with my daughter, I ask her what she wants from homeschool: more arts and crafts, more music, more fun. I explain to her those are all good things and they can be done--but math, spelling, language arts, and history are also important, as is science. Incorporate arts and crafts, music, and fun in homeschool -- there are labs you can do for science, and making dioramas in history is always a good way to learn. I also ask my daughter if there are any particular things she would like to study. Last year, it was astronomy, and this year, human anatomy. That way, if your child chooses the topic, you get at least some buy-in to what you're teaching.
Consider the curriculum
Sometimes, you need to consider the source of the frustration. Often, it's the very curriculum you're using that's at the root of the issues. Don't be afraid to change curriculum, or alter it in some way. I sometimes use a science or history curriculum as the text but find worksheets or projects on such websites as Education.com or Teacherspayteachers. I also use puzzles, games, and arts and crafts to supplement a curriculum.
Make it your own
When you've seen one homeschool, you've seen one homeschool. Stop comparing your homeschool or homeschool space with others, as comparison breeds the lack of contentment. You're not doing public school or school-at-home, you're homeschooling, and you can make it what you wish.
Hard days are bound to happen. We don't live in bubbles, and we're all humans. The beautiful thing is, every day comes with new mercies and graces, so extend new mercy and grace to yourself, and your child, every day. If something isn't working, fix it and don't dwell on it. But, if a pattern emerges, figure out what's behind the pattern and deal with it.
(C) 2021 Terrie Bentley McKee ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Terrie Bentley McKee is an author and speaker who homeschools her youngest daughter. Married to her husband Greg, they have four children, all of whom have special needs of varying degrees. Terrie is a follower of Jesus Christ and tries to glorify God in all she does. To read more about her testimony, click here.
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