Monday, February 13, 2012

Homeschooling has it's good and bad days

I've been homeschooling for over 14 years.  14 years!!!!  My oldest son is 19 and a junior in college.  He was  an ideal student to teach.  Sure, we had our frustrating days, what homeschooling parent doesn't, but he was also self-motivated.  For homeschooling this is a wonderful trait and makes your life so much easier.   I wouldn't come to truly appreciate how much until my 13th year of homeschooling.

My two boys are wonderful boys, but two very different personalities.  My oldest is a mild-mannered, easy-going, nothing phases him kind of guy.  My youngest is completely the opposite and I mean COMPLETELY the opposite!  Having the first child you homeschool be so mellow lulls you into a false sense of security and how easy homeschooling can be.  I honestly think, that if I had homeschooled my second son first, I probably NEVER would have attempted it again.  He has no motivation and sees no benefit to his future from doing school.  He wants to draw and doesn't understand what Science, History, and Algebra have to do with Art.  But unfortunately, as we all know, there are certain requirements to graduate from high school.

One thing I have come to learn though is flexibility and adaptabilty.  It's taken me a long time and there have been many struggles, but I've learned that my boys do not learn the same way.  My oldest was okay with the hands-off approach and even preferred it.  My youngest, well he likes the hands-off approach as well, but that didn't mean he would get his work done.  If left to his own devices he would pass the time doodling and drawing, ask me how I know.  LOL  Needless to say, when school is in session with my now 13 year old son, we are at the kitchen table, with me repeatedly saying, "Focus", "Read", "Do your work" or some other command.  If I don't, then nothing ever gets done.

This year has been my hardest so far.  So hard that I've considered throwing in the towel.....numerous times.  There were more days than not in the first 3 months that ended in tears and frustration on both our parts.  I had no idea how I was going to make it through the year.  My only glimmer of light was that at least we were a year ahead, so if it was too big of a struggle, we could always do it over.......not something I really wanted to consider though.  It would make me feel like a failure if I did and I knew it.......it didn't mean I was, but it's hard to convince yourself of that.  Then came Christmas break, well December break.  We travel back to Colorado in December, so we just take that month off, or most of it off. (With homeschooling, you have that flexibility.  I start in August so that we can do this.) 

It was over this break that I had an epiphany, if you will.  I was talking to a good friend of mine, who is a Pastor's wife and homeschooled her three boys as well.  She pointed out that he doesn't need to take all those hard Math classes and Science classes, just the basics.  Especially since his interests lay in the artistic field.  I don't know why I didn't think of that myself.  I had been telling people for years that homeschooling is flexible to the needs of the child, yet here I was not being flexible about what I taught.   Sometimes you are just too close to see the big picture and I had never even considered NOT teaching him the higher and harder classes.  All I kept thinking was HOW was I ever going to teach them to him.  It was after this realization that the fog began to clear and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I could continue homeschooling my boy, I could make it work and everything was going to be all right.

Now, mind you, we still have our struggles, and frustrations still happen, but they don't last for as long and we are able to work past them.  I've learned, well, I'm learning to adapt my teaching skills to his ability and learning style.  I haven't gotten it all figured out, probaby never will, but knowing that I don't HAVE to teach those upper classes makes it that much easier to handle.   As always, I try to take it one day at a time and now it's easier to do just that.

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