In twenty years of homeschooling, the most frequent comment I have heard about the activity, from people who don’t do it, is:
“I could never homeschool! I’m simply not patient enough!”
This one ties, actually, with the most frequent question,
“How will your children ever by normally socialized if they don’t go to public school?”
I’ve always laughed at that latter one: you mean that mobs of children, all the same age, crowded together and peer pressuring one another all day long, is normal?
But back to this patient thing: I always smile at that one, too, because quite frankly, I am not the world’s most patient person. Who is?
When you homeschool, it’s important that you never forget the
insidious effect of sub-conscious insecurity. Parent teachers, because they operate largely on their own, frequently wonder,
“Am I doing this right?”
“Do I really know how to teach this?”
“What if I’m getting this wrong?”
Whether we realize it or not, questions like this are always dancing about in the back of our heads — and it doesn’t help that society questions our intellectual qualifications as well — so that, if a child doesn’t spell well by a certain age, or isn’t reading at a particular level, or simply cannot understand the clock face and hands, we blame ourselves. In a larger traditional schoolroom, with more kids milling about, it’s acceptable to blame the child, or the parents.
So recognize that one of the reasons you may be getting impatient is because your child isn’t “getting it” fast enough, and that can be for a variety of reasons, not necessarily your inadequacy as an instructor. When Eldest Supreme was 6, she went through a math program that prided itself on being intuitive, tapping into the inner child, so to speak, and loosely presenting concepts that the child would readily understand and adapt.
“Loosely” is a vast understatement. While it wasn’t an issue when we were discussing counting and basic adding and subtracting, something that a child of six frequently can do, everything fell apart when the curriculum decided to introduce fractions (“Split up fun!”), elementary algebraic concepts, and division — this latter before multiplication, and again, when the child was 6. Six!
Initially I got frustrated — impatient — with Eldest Supreme because, not surprisingly, she wasn’t “getting it,” and the easiest thing was to blame her and not the impossibly frustrating, expecting-way-more-out-of-a-child-than-reality-dictates workbook curriculum. Eventually, I got it myself, and skipped pages that weren’t appropriate (this wasn’t particularly difficult because the curriculum itself was in no particular order, and concepts introduced on page 10 would never be heard from again).
This also illustrates a potential pitfall when you rely too heavily upon curriculum: you bought it, someone — supposedly with expertise — developed it, and by golly you’re going to get through each and every page. But as my math nightmare with Eldest Supreme shows, this doesn’t always — actually usually doesn’t — work.
Ultimately, the problem of patience isn’t so much whether you have enough of it or not — I’m guessing that in everyday life you’re a reasonably mature person who doesn’t go around kicking dogs, and you can work a half-hour at a time cooking, or gardening, or driving, without getting into a screaming rage. The problem of patience is often whether or not you have enough confidence to know that you’re going about your activity, like homeschooling, in a sensible manner, and if perfect results don’t show up instantly, this isn’t because you — YOU — are a massive failure.
If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to read my article, Why Do You Homeschool? which addresses this crucial issue of parent
teacher confidence. Thursdays I write about family and homeschooling for this site, This Woman Writes, and you can see the collection of articles in the Homeschooling section of the site.
If you’re like our family was, you are not enjoying the financial benefits of a double income, and money is always a factor to be considered. I encourage you to buy, or borrow on Amazon Prime, my book, Live Happily on Less, which discusses real and realistic ways to make the most of the resources you have. It’s in both paperback and digital (cheap!!!!! $5.99!) versions at Amazon.com, and in paperback at Barnes and Noble.