When I started homeschooling 22 years ago, I had visions of great organization and planning on my part, eagerness and high quality work by my children, lots of hands-on art projects and science experiments, and hours spent snuggling on the couch reading together. We have experienced these, but we’ve also experienced plenty of sloppy work, falling behind schedule, and skipping those fun time-consuming projects.
My older daughters were great students. They would have succeeded in any setting. They loved to read; they were attentive and motivated to check things off the list. They could focus and finish most of their assigned work by lunchtime. They were the easy ones!
My son was very smart, but was very wiggly and easily bored by long tasks. He was full of creative ideas and spent his middle school and high school years doing things like building computers and filming videos. Attempts to have him sit at a table and work for long periods were not successful. We had to try out different curricula to find something he would do well with. We used Saxon math one year—he hated it! Looking at that page of 25 problems was overwhelming, even if I only required him to do half. He didn’t need a spiral approach and knowing that he had to do long division every day, even if it was only 2 problems frustrated him. He didn’t need a lot of practice, but he needed to be challenged. When we found Singapore math, he thrived. The short lessons, different every day, and the challenging word problems kept him engaged. I really think he would have thrived with a more delight-directed or even unschooling approach, but I could never quite give up the control to go in that direction. Even today, as an adult, he is interested in many topics and will self-educate on anything that piques his interest. (Sitting through lecture classes in college was torture for him, though.)
Emily is even more distractible. She can sit at the kitchen table for hours with nothing to show for the time! Day after day! She also forgets skills and topics that she’s learned before, so I find myself cycling through the same topics over and over again. She also gets easily frustrated with anything she finds difficult. I will readily admit—I am not at all patient about doing so! She is 14 and I am still trying to figure out how to get through our days with maximum output and minimum obstinence. I’m dealing with serious heart issues with her. I know that her attitude is the cause of many of the schooling issues and am in a lot of prayer about how to reach her and turn her in a better direction. I’m still convinced that homeschooling is the best option for her and that God has called me to homeschool, so I am pressing through.
Homeschooling has been a blessing for us and I have never (well, seldom) regretted making the choice. But it can be hard! It requires prayer. It requires being willing to change course when needed. And it requires giving up some of those dreams of being the “perfect family” for just doing the best we can and trusting God to do the rest.
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