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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Intervention

This may just be the year that homeschooling does me in. I've had to call in reinforcements (my husband) to help me with not only our eldest, but our two youngest.

Let me preface my rant by saying that I have three beautiful and creative children and I love them dearly. But sometimes, love isn't enough - grace is required. I am very thankful to be swimming in God's grace today, because I would probably have drowned a long time ago in the vast ocean that is called homeschooling.

I live in a house full of emotional children who raise their voices in frustration and resort to crying instead of digging their heels in and trying to learn. I am not very tolerant of those tears, either. Lord help me, I don't want to raise a bunch of whiny quitters. But I'm seriously at my wits end. Every time I make the attempt to throw out a lifeline or an aid, one of my children rejects the help and continues to flail and flounder.

Of course, I do take full responsibility for this. I am quite sure they are simply modeling what they have seen me do (as far as raising my voice - I don't typically resort to crying). And I hate it. I really do, because I know that they are all capable of so much more, as am I.

I think a homeschool intervention is needed. Or a summer break. Something...before I lose my everlivin' mind.

These are things many homeschoolers don't talk about, because it makes us look bad. Well, it's no lie that every day is not a picnic when you homeschool...your kids don't always love it, and you certainly don't always get everything done that you set out to accomplish.

However, I do not believe this is a homeschooling issue so much as a heart issue. I'm not sure how to get our family back on track and get our attitudes right about homeschooling and loving one another.

/rant

I'm feeling some frustration and in dire need of a new point of view. Anyone out there with any ideas?




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17 comments:

nicole said...

I don't homeschool, so I can't really offer any advice. I just wanted to let you know I read what you wrote and I feel for you. Maybe a family discussion on what has gone wrong and what needs to be made right? I'm sure the vast community of homeschoolers will come out in force to encourage you in your great calling.

Joy @ Five J's said...

This post is exactly what I could have written earlier this week about our own homeschooling. I was just about to throw in the towel (and yes, I did a lot of raising my voice…unfortunately)!

I have three children as well and my oldest, an 11 yo boy, has been having a lot of problems lately. If it can't be classified as "fun" or "playing" in his book, then he refuses to involve his brain 100%. Makes trying to teach him anything a little difficult to say the least.

Two days ago it got to the point where he tried to convince me that the math book is wrong and that I've been teaching him incorrectly this whole time. It was NOT a pretty sight. Our "dialogue" on Monday was probably the low point of all four years of our homeschooling.

Did I consider sending him back to public school? Only briefly. But I am more convinced than ever that next year we'll be getting him involved in more activities where I am not his teacher (like a co-op.)

One thing that HAS helped us recently is revamping our schedule. We school for 12 weeks, and then break at Thanksgiving for 7 weeks. We go another 12 weeks, then break for 2 weeks at Easter, then school another 12 weeks and break for 7 weeks in the summer.

(This gives me a nice decompression time in between terms. I feel like I can start fresh if I've had a nice break and I'm only anticipating 12 weeks straight of schooling.)

THEN I schedule all the kids' work for the whole 12-week term, and the kids have a one-page assignment sheet with ALL of their work for the term on it. I don't assign daily work, but they know all their work must be completed by the end of each week. This week-at-a-time schedule has been great to help decrease the frequency of my getting on the kids' backs about finishing their daily work. If they're not done by end of school Friday, they simply have homework.

Again, wish I had a magic formulat that could help more. But at least you know you are definitely not alone in this situation!

But try to hang in there. Your children will never have another teacher that loves them as much as you do and who will have their best interests at heart!

dianne - bunny trails said...

I know the feeling all too well, Karen. But remember that God is ever faithful. You're not in this alone and while it can feel overwhelming and frustrating, He's still at work. He can take the bad and redeem it for good. I firmly believe that part of the reason He has me homeschooling is to train and mature me as much as them.

Press into Him, pray, pray, and pray some more. Trust that He can use even this. Know that change will come; sometimes it's so subtle you almost miss it. But it will be there.

I'll be praying for you as well.

love,
dianne

Amber @ Classic Housewife/ Modern World said...

Oh, Karen, you took the words right out of my mouth! I'm writing a post today about feeling like I should be fired. I'm not doing a good job at this, or anything right now.

Homeschooling isn't a picnic. It's not the easy road. It's THE HARD ROAD. We don't get regular breaks from our children to regroup and reorganize before the next wave of trials. We don't get time during the day to clean without interruption. We have to learn to manage everything while homeschooling and being a mom and being a wife all at the same time. And it's hard, I'm right there with you.

I hate to admit it, I feel like the second I say, "Geez, we're not getting our school done right," someone is going to jump in and say, "Aha!! See?! You CAN'T do it. You need to put them in public school!" I hate to admit it, because I hate to fail, and right now things don't feel very successful.

And oh, my, word, you nailed it on the head and stepped on my toes (but I'm not blaming you) - yeah, they learn these things from us. I'm guilty. It's me. I'm the one that taught them to holler. I'm the one that taught them to drag their feet and procrastinate. It's my fault.

So I think I should be fired.
Or at least be suspended.
But we both know that's not going to happen - at least not in the middle of the school year - so instead I'm going to pick myself up and try again today because I owe it to my family and my kids.

Emily said...

I don't have any advice, but I can feel your frustration. I'm sorry -- I hope some of the other ideas might be helpful. :)

I Am Boymom said...

Oh Sweetie! My heart hurts as I read your post! The frustration, exasperation and just plain heartache that comes when our families are struggling is something I know well. Just so you know...I have the same struggles everyday, not just related to school. We don't homeschool because we struggle every day just to overcome our dysfunctional upbringing so we can provide a safe and happy home for our kids. I do not feel strong enough to introduce homeschooling into our already precarious balancing act. Raising kids is hard! Even the best moms struggle to keep their voices down to a low roar and mine have heard me raise my voice and even cry on occasion when I have been pushed beyond my limits. I can't imagine how much harder it would be to have to deal with homeschooling too. I know you will find your way through this. The fact that you recognize that your family is having issues is half the battle! Take Monday off with the rest of the country and take a field trip! Or spend Valentine's day delivering valentines to the neighbors by having the kids leave the valentines on the door, then knock and run! Maybe just a change of scenery and some fun bonding will change the dynamic! Hang in there and know that there are lots of moms out here praying for you!

Phyllis@Aimless Conversation said...

I wish I had time to expound and write a long, encouraging comment.

I will say that I KNOW your pain. I FEEL your frustration because I have been there myself. I am a fellow homeschooler with willful, defiant, stubborn, strong-willed, lazy, dis-interested, distracted children whom I love deeply and desperately. I know many of their most annoying traits are the very things that I myself struggle with and model for them everyday. I truly believe that homeschooling/parenting/marriage are all tools that God uses to file the rough edges off of my character.

With that being said, you are so right, that what you are encountering is evident of heart issues. In my own experience, when things have been absolutely rotten, I have set aside academic school work for a time (a day, an hour, a week) to focus on character/heart issues. Often, the time spent on those things will lend the clarity needed to re-focus with diligence on the academics. Try to point the kids to scripture and spend some time in prayer about what ever the issues are. Don't try to tackle every trait at once. Ask the Holy Spirit to work in the kids hearts...If they have asked Christ into their hearts, the Holy Spirit can work on convicting them for their sour attitudes with out a word from you. I appreciate that!

Karen, don't give up! It's a season and you and the kids will come out better, stronger, wiser on the other side. (((homeschool hugs)))

PS...can you imagine what I could have said if I "had time?!!" LOL

Ashleigh (Heart and Home) said...

These are the days that I KNOW will come when our boys are older, and just that thought alone makes me reconsider our commitment to hsing... and we haven't even started yet.

Sometimes, when we'd have these days (or seasons!) my mom would pack all of us with a few subjects packed in a canvas bag... and we'd head to the park. We'd find a quiet spot and take all day--heading home in the late afternoon--to do those few subjects, read our own "for fun" books, roller skate, take walks around the big park... just getting out always helped us AND our mom.

And taking a complete break for a week or so isn't always a bad idea. Do other learning things... take a day trip, cook together, do those crafty fun things you never get around to, let the readers among you spend hours reading if they want to, build lego houses together. I also like Joy's idea (above) of taking longer breaks. We did that till highschool and it definitely worked best for us. Regular, planned periods of refreshment can often prevent the unplanned I-can't-do-this-anymore! breakdowns. :)

Headless Mom said...

I don't have any words of advice-only big (((hugs)))!

Mrs Lemon said...

Thank you for being transparent. I hope you get rejuvenated! ((hugs))

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

My girls aren't school age yet and unless the Lord leads otherwise, we probably won't homeschool, but I also wanted to say thanks for being so honest about this area of life. Not everyone homeschools but I bet most everyone has at least one area of life where they want to say HELP! THIS ISN'T WORKING! I feel that way most everyday about the way I mother or keep the house or manage the money or whatever aspect of my job I'm struggling with.

Sounds like you are getting some great feedback. I'm praying you are back on track in no time.

Lona said...

Yup. 1-2 days off from bookwork and blog design so that you can do something fun together. If you can't swing a museum, do a park. If it's too cold, declare a jammie day and play board games. Pick a great read-aloud and let them play with legos while you read to them.

Somewhere in that time when you're reconnecting and detoxing, institute a token system. You can go whole-hog, with X amount of tokens earning them certain prizes, or you can just have a dish of nickels, like I do.

Whenever they whine, take a token away. Whatever they have at the end of the day, they keep. The trick is to be consistent and to have good prizes (even if it's free things like: Sleep in for an extra 15 minutes, or eat 2 desserts after supper, or get out of one chore on Friday). Keep it simple, though--you're a working homeschooling mom.

In addition, I always like the results we get when my dh growls, "You will not treat your mother this way." Principals are very helpful.

I prayed for you. BTDT, more than I'd like.

Darcy @ lwm3b said...

Yup. No stranger to those days here.

I have what I call "school bus envy."

My tendency is to daydream what my day would be like if I could just send off my kids on the school bus, and have all day to myself. Oh my gosh - what a luxury. I can't even begin to imagine what all I'd done.

In my daydreams, I'm taking bubble baths in the middle of the day... zipping through my design queue and making lots of money... finally having a moment to work out... showering everyday at my leisure.

The truth is... school isn't going to fix whatever existing problems are there. It will only reinforce and exacerbate whatever you're dealing with. Sure, you'll deal with it fewer hours a day, but it won't go away. And that is what I have to remind myself whenever I get get school bus envy. It's more important to me that my boys grow up with happy hearts than some brag-worthy academic curriculum vitae.

We cycle through this, too. Our current attempts are:
- making sure there is a great reward for doing what's right. Not expensive, not indulgent... but something worth working toward.
- being consistent in discipline (this is hard!)... and mostly,
- making sure my boys know that they and their education is my number one priority.

In the stress of the economy, I often find myself trying to hurry up so I can work. My family depends on my income, too. And like you, I get paid when I get the job done. The more I get done, the more I get paid.

It took a good long heart-to-heart to explain to my oldest that I rather sit around with them and play board games, color and hang out. But the reality is, I need to work. And we are a team. We all need to be on board to make our family successful. And that means, boys must get their stuff done and mom must work. Still, I make sure there is time each day for stuff they like - read alouds, legos, etc.

I think this time of year is a high burn out time. The days are short. Kids are stuck inside. There's very little sunlight and warmth. Holiday-high is over. Spring fever is here. Everyone's ready for a break.

Including me. And when stress is high, and patience is worn thin... the issues of heart are much more important than the issues of school.

It's almost Valentine's Day - I concur with the commenter above. Give yourselves two "heart days" to connect and play. I think we could all use that.

*hugs*
Darcy

SixInTheNorthwest said...

Wow. I followed your twitter link to get here and am blown away by the honesty that everyone has shared. I'm new to blogging, commenting, and the like but have been drawn to it recently as I have been facing issues similar to yours and have felt the need to connect with others in my time/place in life, or at least realize, that my problems are not unique - no, on second thought they're not problems, they're just situations that need to be worked/prayed through. I was given the circumstances and opportunity to raise my children at home and tackle homeschooling, and it's up to me to see it through. My oldest is now 18 and I have one that just entered public high school with two younger ones still learning at home. The inspiration I get from seeing how my older ones are handling what life dishes out to them keeps me motivated to move ahead regardless of how our day goes so that they too can become confident adults knowing that you were there for them each and every day. Sorry to ramble, but this truly touched my heart today.

Connie

Smockity Frocks said...

YES! Been there!

I don't have any answers except to just keep on plodding along. When the tears come, and they do, I say, "I'm sorry this is hard, but we ARE going to do it."

I just blogged today about how our reading lessons sometimes make my head explode!

Vicki Arnold said...

You have received a lot of good advice already. I would just like to offer the title of a book that I read recently that helped my perspective. The book is called Christian Unschooling by Teri J. Brown. She addresses this issue in the front of the book. I'm also reading Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson.

Both books are encouraging to homeschooling families who have hit frustrating times.

God bless you for being honest, it will help others.

Best Life said...

I have been pondering this post for several days. I didn't want to be quick and just toss out advice. I guess the first thing that you need to remember is that you are not alone. All homeschooling moms have, at one time or another, wondered if they were giving their children what they need. It is hard, very hard. But you aren't failing, you are just having a rough time.

Some of these women before me have already given some great ideas. I would just want to add this: make a plan. Whatever your problem is right now, you and your husband need to brainstorm about how to fix it. Be open minded about the options. Don't get stuck in what you think others expect for you. What you need to do may not be what other people do. We are all unique. So make a plan. If getting your family's attitudes right mean stopping school for a month and making a garden (very hard work, by the way, great for kids that don't like to work) then do it. If you need to hole up in your house and stop going anywhere for a while then do it. If you need to get out more so you decide to take off on Fridays then do it. If you think you need to turn home into boot camp...doing nothing but responding to every little whine then do it. Just make a plan.

Lastly, don't expect immediate results. We fall into the trap of thinking, "I've figured out how to fix it, so now it's over." Changing our heart takes time, but if you are faithful then one day it will seem like all of a sudden that problem is gone, when really it was long, hard perseverance

Praying, Lisa~