Have you ever said a word over and over again, like 10 or 20 times, until it starts to sound weird and you wonder if it is even a real word anymore? That’s how I feel about about the answers I give to the homeschooling questions I get day after day. I have said these answers so many times over the last ten years, I wonder if they are even really true. And to be honest, some of them are only half true.
Let me give you some examples:
Question 1: How do you get it all done?
Typical Answer 1 : Well, school work really doesn’t take 6 hours like it does in traditional school because in a classroom, you have to deal with discipline and 30 students asking questions, going to the bathroom, handing out papers, walking to the lunchroom, and so forth.So an average homeschooling student can finish all their work before noon.
TRUTH: We have never finished before noon. Ever. Sometimes we don’t even finish before bed. But my attention span is definitely less than average. And my children are not average. And there are so many of them. So there’s that. However, I do know home-schoolers that attain this unicorn type “finish before noon” status regularly, but they are not average either.
Question 2: How do you keep your kids from fighting all day?
Typical Answer 2: The reason typical school siblings fight so much is because at school they are divided into specific age groups, and they lose the ability to interact with other ages. However home school kids regularly interact with all ages from babies to adults and learn best how to get a long. Also, when they have disagreements I am there to help them with the skills of debate and guide their reconciliation.
TRUTH: Sometimes they fight like banshees. Can’t get a long for 5 minutes in a row. So I separate each child into a different room, grab the chocolate, lock myself in the bathroom, and text a friend.
Question 3: Do you have a lot of patience?
Answer: Well, I didn’t always have a lot of patience, but patience is a muscle and homeschooling gives me the opportunity to exercise it a lot. So I have a lot more patience now then I used to.
TRUTH: Like the Apostle Paul, I am the chief of sinners, and sometimes I can get frustrated and fully blow it. And then I feel such deep regret knowing I would never permit a teacher to talk to my child the way I just did, and I wonder if I will ever be the teacher they deserve.
Question 4: Were you a teacher?
Answer 4: Yes, actually I taught high school math, but some of the best home school moms were never teachers. You don’t have to be an expert in a subject, you only have to be an expert in your child.
TRUTH: Having taught math I have a HUGE advantage. Sure you can learn as you go, but most parents give up by high school because it is a LOT of work to learn Chemistry, Algebra 2 and Latin. You CAN do it, but most parents don’t have the time or motivation, so if you continue to home school through high school, you will likely end up paying for some type of tutoring or home school class at least once a week.
And last but certainly not least:
Question 5: How do your kids socialize?
Answer 5: Lack of socialization is a common misconception. With all the co-ops, homeschooling groups, sports, ballet, church, and field trips, we socialize too much!!
TRUTH: While there are many opportunities to get together in groups, the reality for our family is that it has been difficult to find that kindred friend for each of my children. I have five. And scheduling play dates for 5 children is more than I am capable of. Some of my kids don’t have that “best friend,” and it makes me sad sometimes. I have heard other parents say the same.
Yes, there is truth to all of my “typical” answers, but the snippets with which I respond in the line at Publix do not tell the whole story. They are true enough for the moment. But when you are in the trenches, if you are daily trying live up to these idealistic answers, it will make you want to throw in the towel.
Because sometimes it seems like your children will never finish their school work,
and they are cranky from sun up to sun down and beyond.
and you lost your patience….again.
and you have to hire a “professional” tutor.
and your kid is lonely.
The truth is that homeschooling is HARD WORK. It is amazing work. It is fulfilling work. It is fruitful work. But it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and there are no signs that it will get any easier. And as is the case with most anything in life, the best results come from a lot of hard work.
Focusing on an ideal and comparing it with real life can cause you to doubt your calling. But God did not call you to live up to an ideal. He called you to obedience. Homeschooling, and specifically Classical Conversations is the best thing that has ever happened to our family, even when our day is not ideal. And that’s the truth!