Can you think of a teacher you disliked?
Most people can, sometimes quite vehemently! Isn’t that likely to happen with mom if she is the teacher for every subject in every grade? Some critics of homeschooling think so, and I can see their reasoning.
As much as I’d enjoy having my kids consistently think I’m awesome, my ultimate goal is to raise responsible, considerate, Jesus-loving adults — even if they don’t always like me in the process. The sticky part of the equation is that if I create bitterness in my children, I’ll sacrifice my relationship, and therefore, my influence in their lives.
Now then, let’s talk about how NOT to make your homeschooled kids hate you!
Absence does not make the heart grow fonder.
Kathryn is my first and longest-running homeschool student, from kindergarten through recently completed sixth grade. In these seven years of home educating, we have butted heads; we’ve had discipline issues; we’ve had arguments, and plenty of frustration.
But… (This is huge, y’all.)
Despite the head-butting, we have an awesome relationship because rather than spend 35+ hours each week at school, she has been home learning and reading and doing together with me.
At a very crucial time of her life and her emotional development, I have been the primary influence in her life, rather than other preteens. We haven’t had to squeeze in time together to talk about important things; we have time for that nearly every day. We have private jokes and silly stories. Our laughs far exceed our conflict. On the occasions when we do have conflict, we have time to work it out rather than letting it fester.
I’m called to be her PARENT, and that remains the priority, but I like being her FRIEND, too. My mom is one of my best friends, and I look forward to having that kind of relationship with Kathryn with she is grown.
Time and shared experience help create lasting bonds.
It’s now been just over three months since Scout (5) and Jem (4) moved in. Although I didn’t enjoy chasing the yellow bus each morning and was glad to see the end of the public school year come to a close, I did have some trepidation about what our days might be like when both kids were home 24/7. But already we have seen improvement in Scout’s behavior since the school year ended because she has more consistency, more sleep, and no over-stimulation. In just the past couple of weeks, I’ve even seen a deepening of her bond with me. This is absolutely crucial for these children. Their future depends on developing healthy attachment to us, and that requires T-I-M-E. Even if I saw no other benefits to homeschooling, I’d plan to home educate these two for the next few years in order to build those healthy loving relationships.
Kids desires and “bents” must be considered.
Kathryn sees the benefits of homeschooling, and can easily rattle off a rather long list of perks. I believe she has been able to keep a positive view of it because she knows I’m willing to change things that may not be working in regards to schedules or curriculum, etc. Complaining won’t make me change it, and I don’t expect her to love every aspect of schooling, but if I see something causing undue stress or the beginnings of bitterness, I talk to her about the problem and we figure out a solution. I’m not afraid to make changes mid-year if necessary. Every child is different, and each child requires a unique approach to the specifics of learning.
Don’t let homeschool become an idol.
Lindsey, now 18, had no desire to homeschool, and felt that we were depriving her by “forcing” her to do so. Before joining our family at the age of 14, she had known no one who homeschooled, so it was a strange concept to her. Frequent battles ensued, and we realized she had made public school an idol. But I feared I’d made homeschool an idol, too, and though I saw the many benefits, I also saw that a stout root of bitterness toward us (particularly me) was beginning to grow in Lindsey’s heart. We struggled with the decision, but in the end, her relationship with us took priority, and we gave her the desire of her heart.
A year later, she was willingly back to finish her education at home.
Be careful not to exasperate your children.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
Homeschooling in itself does not cause the destruction of a parent-child relationship; that can happen whether kids are educated at home, or in public or private school. It’s an issue of parenting, not of where a child’s education happens. What can exasperate our children is stubbornly refusing to bend and not considering their hearts even when we see a root of bitterness developing.
This post is part of iHomeschool Network’s “Answering the Homeschool Critics” series. Come find answers from experienced homeschool moms on a wide variety of criticisms about homeschooling, from “But You Went to Public School and You Turned Out Fine” to “How can you Homeschool Gifted Kids?” and all sorts of topics inbetween. Get your own concerns answered, or find ideas on how to deal with your own homeschool critics.
Wife, mama, homeschooler, dog-wrangler. Introvert who finds joy in good books, sunshine, and authentic conversation. Fitness enthusiast and strength coach. Often seen with a steaming mug of tea in hand.