Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Hardest Part of Homeschooling (For Me)

As much as I love homeschooling, there's definitely very real challenges.  Many of the articles on the internet about homeschooling talk about the benefits of homeschooling (of which there are so many!), but rarely is there mention of the hardships. (Kind of like when you become a parent, people generally tell you how great it'll be and what a blessing it is, but they don't mention how physically painful the weeks after childbirth are or how hormones can send you on such an emotional roller coaster or how sleep deprivation can bring out more anger than you've ever felt). It's great to focus on the positives, but acknowledging the challenges makes me feel less alone and gives a more realistic picture of what homeschooling is like. I recently forwarded this article to a friend who is considering homeschooling:  5 Things I hate about homeschooling  and while these do resonate with me (alot! But I've managed to find ways to work overcome these for the most part, and they are no longer among my 'hardest parts' anymore...not saying they are GONE but definitely less difficult now) and I'm so thankful for this post, I realized that my biggest struggle right now isn't listed.

While some challenges may be pretty universal to most homeschoolers, there's also individual challenges based on circumstances, family dynamics, and personality. Also, I think with all major endeavors in life, the challenges will constantly change as the people involved change and as you yourself change.  At first, the hardest part of homeschooling was having a child around 24/7. After getting past that, the biggest challenge was having this huge responsbility of their entire education on my shoulders.  After getting past that, it was getting on the same page for what assignments would be done or not done, battles over refusing to complete assignments and whining about not wanting to do something.  But at this point in our homeschooling journey, I'd have to say the hardest part is something others may find pretty inconsequential...there's no single word to describe it, but I'd say it's something like one of the following:

  • Trusting my kids to get the work done in their own time.
  • Watching my kids be inefficient with their time.
  • Allowing my kids to do other things between assignments.
  • Letting my kids decide when to do their work.
  • Bridging the disconnect of my idea of a school day schedule and their idea of a school day schedule.
  • Letting go of MY idea of what needs to be done when (that that work should come before play)
As much as I read articles about the need to take breaks and for kids to have free play time (and in my head, I do agree with these), I still find it such a struggle to let them space out their work throughout the day, rather than get it all done and then have free time afterwards. It makes me so cranky and irritable to still have work to be finished at 3pm, when we started 8:30am. It's pretty ridiculous actually, and I know *I* need to change, as much as I want THEM change. I end up seeing it as "dawdling" or "distractions from work" or "not being diligent in their work habits".

To some degree, yes, they need to manage their own time, and at some point, I will need to let them do that on their own and trust them, especially as they get older. And also, to some degree, I am the parent/teacher, I certainly could just set the schedule and be done. Unfortunately, with my work schedule they have long periods of 'independent time', which I cannot be on top of them for schoolwork, so I often have to leave them with a list of assignments to complete at their own pace. The problem is my idea of "pace" is different from theirs, and it DRIVES ME CRAZY! It grates on me to hear them in the background doing other stuff, knowing that there is a ton of schoolwork to get done. Trying to reign them to get their work done just leaves me feeling frustrated and ineffective.

I've recently learned that this need for me to get things done right away, and check things off a checklist is correlated to my own personality trait: on the Myers-Brigg personality scale, I'm heavily a 'J' (Judging), and NOT a 'P'(Perceiving) personality.  A 'J' is task oriented and likes to have checklists and hates to have to be rushed to meet a deadline. A 'P' is more open ended and works in bursts of energy, and is motivated by an approaching deadline.  Apparently, my kids are the opposite of me (Monkey more so than Bunny). 

So, while this may be a pretty unique homeschooling challenge, specific to me and my kids and our differing personalities, I suppose it points to a bigger general homeschool challenge-which is finding a way to mesh the different personalities/teaching styles/expectations of parent and child.  I think probably in most cases, both sides need to adjust. It's not just the parent forcing their children to comply with the parent's way, and it's not the parent bending over backward to be someone she is not. It takes movement on both sides of the fence.