Probably not what you’re expecting from a homeschooling blog. And “HATE” is probably a strong word. “Dislike greatly” might be a better fit. But guess what… I think it gets better.
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First, let me tell you what brought us to the decision to homeschool in the first place.
My daughter, S, now 7 years old, is an advanced reader. If you’re anything like her kindergarten teacher you’re shaking your head with that all knowing, “yes, yes everyone thinks their child is a genius” look about you. But listen. About 4 years ago I was on a kick determined to read some of the literary classics I missed in life. My first book was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. After 3 or 4 children’s books, I would lie in bed at night and read my book aloud as S would drift off to sleep. I mean, what 3 year old is interested in Great Expectations?
Not only would she stay awake and listen, but one night I realized she was actually reading along with me! How did I know? I had skipped a word and in her sweet little princess voice she pointed it out. Later that same night I said the wrong word and she corrected me! Yes. My 3 year old was reading Charles Dickens. Now admittedly, we weren’t having deep and meaningful conversations about the book. She knew the words, not what the book was really about. And not just the simple words either. We’re not talking “cat” and “bat.”
Ok. Skip ahead 2 years. It was time for her to start Kindergarten. She’d gone to a cute little half day preschool the year before and now it was time for school. She was one of the youngest in her class having just turned 5 at the end of July, but she’s very tall and mostly mature and smart so I figured she would do just fine. And she did. Socially. But the school was having to bring in 5th grade material for her. Not only was she reading it, but she was comprehending it.
I knew public school wasn’t going to work for her. The rest of her class was still learning their ABC’s. What were my options? We lived in Cary, NC and the school systems were excellent. There were plenty of options including magnet schools, private schools, Montessori schools. But the more I thought about it, the more I mulled it over, and with the encouragement of my dear sweet neighbor and friend, I kept coming back to homeschooling.
My overly creative mind went wild with the possibilities!
Six months after I discussed and decided with my husband, reality set in. Homeschooling is hard.
First there is the daunting task of picking (or choosing to not pick) a curriculum. Then there’s a schedule to make… and stick to. Oh, and when I started my homeschooling journey let me also add that I was on bed rest with a complicated pregnancy, had a very active almost 2 year old son, and was trying to help my very reluctant teenage daughter get off to her first year of college 5 hours away from home. Needless to say, starting our homeschool was fraught with distractions.
Despite the distraction I was determined to give it a try and we muddled through the first few months with a very relaxed attitude. Mostly we filled our days with a little schoolwork and a lot of free time. By December I knew we needed to buckle down and really get serious about this so I started insisting that we do work every day. My dear sweet princess had other ideas. She liked the free time a lot more than the school time. We butt heads. A lot. I lost my temper daily. I threatened to quit and take her back to “real school” every day, sometimes several times a day. We got behind every day even though our school work should only have taken about an hour to finish. By the end of the “school year” we were both spent.
Then August came again. We had put 2 months between the end of the school year and the beginning of the next. I had given a lot more thought to how our school should be run, made a plan, changed my thinking, relaxed a little. And the beginning of this school year started out beautifully. We were staying on task and getting stuff done. Our school day was now taking a total of 2 hours, but we were getting it done and not getting behind.
Until… fall came and with it came the sniffles. My very active 2 year old boy became an insanely active 3 year old that didn’t listen or mind or want to participate. My newborn baby that slept a lot became an active 1 year old that walked and wanted to be a part of things. And my sweet princess just wanted to play. By this past December I was starting to dislike school again. We were getting behind again. We never got to do the fun stuff I planned.
So now we’re to the present. I was talking with a dear sweet friend of mine who just began her homeschooling journey with her 2 sons this year and she was saying how she wanted to quit every day and how she just didn’t enjoy homeschooling. She said she was going to quit after this year and maybe try again later. This made me think about how I’ve been feeling lately. Should I quit? Maybe this just doesn’t work for S and me. Maybe instead of helping her stay ahead I’m actually holding her back. Maybe, while I fight to teach her, my other two sweet littles are suffering from lack of attention. It’s hard to say I’m failing.
And then it hit me. Sure, I don’t love homeschooling. There aren’t those sweet beautiful moments with my kids where I look at them and think, “This is all worth it.” I’m not that kind of mom. But I am the kind of mom that realizes that while I don’t love it this year, I don’t hate it. My desire to quit is only about once a week now instead of every day. I have learned more this past year about my daughter and myself- how we learn, what we need to learn, and where we need to be going in this journey than I did last year or ever before. I already know how to improve for next year.
I think that homeschooling gets better. I think that each year I’m going to dislike it less and subsequently liking it more. It’s already happening. So I’m not failing. Oh, but wait a minute, what about my sweet princess you ask? Well, she never ever asks to go back to “real school.” In fact, she says she loves homeschool and wants to do it until high school. Is she learning? Yes. Last week my 2nd grader did her multiplication tables through 5’s, she can divide, she knows about the solar system and we read an entire book about Europe including the geography and government, she crocheted her sister a scarf for Christmas on her own by reading a pattern and teaching herself the afghan stitch and tunisian stitch, and she has yet to not make a perfect score on her spelling tests. We’ve read 15 classic children’s books so far this school year and she has read numerous books on her own. She still loves me and life and learning. So yeah. I’d say she’s not failing either. I think we’re actually succeeding at this homeschool thing and I’m actually looking forward to another year of it.
Of course, first I just have to get through next week. Ha!