The other day I was talking to another mom and the subject of schooling/homeschooling came up. She mentioned that she thought homeschooling sounded great, but she felt like she didn’t have the patience to do it.
I hope I was gentle when I assured her that none of us homeschooling moms have an extra-special helping of patience. Sure, we strive to be more patient just as all moms do. But we homeschool in spite of our own flaws, not because we don’t have them.
This seems to be a common stumbling block to homeschooling. People seem to assume that homeschooling moms are “special”. I have to admit that in the past, I did think it was something I wasn’t cut out to do. Not for the “patience” reason, but more because I didn’t think I could be happy without a full classroom of kids and materials. It’s definitely been an adjustment in that respect.
Another friend of mine, whose daughter is in the Chicago Public School system, was telling me the other day about the difficulties her daughter has had this past year (3rd grade). One of her teachers is rude to the children and very intimidating. My friend has shown some interest in possibly homeschooling, so I reminded her that this would be just one more reason to try.
Her response was interesting: she wondered what would happen if (and I think it’s a valid question) she found herself losing her temper with her kids at home. Wouldn’t that be just as scarring as what her daughter was going through at school?
Actually, no. That’s because of the difference in the foundation of the relationship. Kids can put up with a lot if they feel secure and loved. Children are more deeply wounded by teachers who don’t establish warm relationships with the students than by those that do. If you, as a homeschooling parent, have a solid, loving relationship with your child, they will be able to handle the occasional clashes and conflicts. When that solid foundation isn’t there, that’s when the clashes and conflicts become damaging.
My experience is different than many, having worked in a classroom for many years. I had a pretty fixed idea of how Montessori – both 3-6 and 6-9 – should go. I knew (I thought I knew) exactly which lessons should be presented and in what order.
I’ve had to throw out many of my preconceptions this past year, and I’ve had to take a deep breath and “reboot” more than once. Looking back, my idealized view of a Montessori classroom probably was too rigid; some of it may have been because I did my 6-9 internship at a demonstration school. Because we were observed almost daily by Montessori teachers and interns from around the country, everything had to be perfect.
Ah, how glad I am that people from around the country are not coming to my home every day to observe! Every day is unpredictable and different from the day before. I’m sure I’d be a more relaxed teacher if I ever went back to working in a classroom. I’m grateful for a chance to see, firsthand, that almost every personality type and/or skill set can be a homeschooler.
Here’s a great list: it takes 50 common reasons people give for not homeschooling, and debunks each one: 50 Reasons Why I Could Never Homeschool. There are lots of other helpful and informative articles at the same blog.