It felt like a constant fight to get my kids to do their school work – almost every single day. I would find myself becoming increasingly frustrated to the point of yelling at my kids to get back to work. Then the feelings of guilt would wash in…I blew it again. My kids were left feeling discouraged and like failures. Actually, we all felt that way. This isn’t what I wanted my homeschool to look like. This wasn’t what I had dreamed of. And I am sure it isn’t what they wanted either. So, why are we fighting this? How did it become so…joyless? We had lost joy in homeschool. Well, I learned a few things along the way…important things I want to share with you. This post is for when you need joy in your homeschool.
I have been a homeschool support teacher since 2004 and I have officially been homeschooling my kids since 2005. I typically have 30+ Kindergarten to grade nine students on my student list every year. This means that I am no stranger to the struggles of home education. This is part one of this series – as I started writing, this post quickly became much too long. Part Two will come next month.
Often times, when we come face to face with a battle of wills with our kids, we are extremely quick to believe they are being lazy, careless, defiant or oppositional. As if this was the only answer to the problems we are facing.
What if, instead of thinking these kinds of thoughts towards our children, we begin to look at the situation with a fresh view? What if it wasn’t that our children are lazy, careless, defiant or oppositional? What if it was something else that is stealing our joy? What if this something else was our responsibility to discover and act upon?
Children naturally love to learn. When they are little, they are so curious about their world. They ask questions. They investigate. They soak up knowledge. Then somewhere along the way, this fades away. This love for learning dies. Let’s look at some reason why this occurs.
Back Up The Bus
One of the biggest killers of the love of learning stems from learning problems or disabilities. My youngest has dysgraphia and I am certain we dodged the bullet of dyslexia since those two issues go hand-in-hand. It was a battle to get her to print anything, and reading, well, forget that! It grew into a source of frustration for the both of us…until I changed things. I could very easily have blamed her for being difficult, strong-willed and lazy. But something was telling me there was a deeper problem. I had to stop what we were doing, back up and re-assess what we were trying to do.
Because she didn’t have the skills to tell me exactly why she could not print, I had to look past the behavior to figure out what was truly going on. Things like this are easy to miss when we homeschool. Unless we know someone who has an understanding of learning challenges, we may not know what is actually going on. If you know someone who is knowledgeable in this field, please, don’t brush off their wisdom!
I brought in a couple of different programs for my daughter to help her overcome her difficulties:
- All About Reading – dyslexic tendencies – overall one of the best reading programs out there for any child. (aff link)
- Smart Kids Who Hate To Write – Diane Craft – Dysgraphia
I then gave her the option of doing her writing assignments on our iPad, which she eagerly welcomed. If you saw her work today, you likely would not believe me that we battled a few years ago. This little girl is in the process of writing a novel that will have at least 20,000 words.
Bring on the JOY!
If you have a battle going on in your homeschool, take a close look to see if there are any learning problems. Talk to someone who has experience in learning disabilities and listen to their wisdom.
Along with learning challenges, giftedness is an area to explore when the battles ensue. I have several students on my list who are gifted in certain areas – many of whom have learning disabilities as well. It can be so hard to navigate such an asynchronous homeschool!
My son is considered gifted in logic and reason. No wonder we were having so many ‘discussions’ about him completing his work! Having a gifted, strong-willed child will cause problems if not addressed properly.
I had to find ways of challenging my son’s giftedness. And, believe me, this is not an easy task! I let him skip a level of math because his grade level was frustrating him. This decision was made after I tried having him just complete the quizzes of the previous grade level, which is another good option…unless they are scoring 100%!
The fighting stopped. The joy returned. He completes his math happily.
I have made various other changes to his programs and I have used his incredible sense of humor to demonstrate his understanding of what he is learning. For example, he was reading “Treasure Island” but not enjoying the comprehension questions.
In his spare time While he was supposed to be answering questions, he started doodling instead. The photo on the right shows his sketch of the Jolly Roger. Do you get it? The Jolly Roger is the pirate flag of skull and crossbones…this pirate is named “Jolly Roger” and he is jolly…perhaps because of the rum (BTW – my son did not know what rum was until he read this book;)). This pirate is flying from the ship’s mast. I decided to use his wit to my benefit…if he can demonstrate his understanding to me using his wit, so be it.
My daughter is more asynchronistic – she has a writing learning disability – and yet she is gifted in writing – something we may not have discovered if we hadn’t given her tools to deal with her struggles in the first place.
We make changes according to her abilities. This means we got rid of most workbooks that are redundant and used her writing to work on grammar, punctuation, etc. We started with what she already knows and worked on the parts of writing she was ready to develop.
Bring on the JOY!
When you are struggling to get your kids to do their work, take these two possibilities into consideration. We must seek God’s wisdom in how to teach and raise our children. Ask Him for insight into any problems you may be having – He is faithful to answer.
I will follow up with part two next month with a couple of more thoughts.
What are some of your biggest struggles with homeschooling? What has made you consider giving up?
Here is a great homeschooling resource that I love!