March can be a tough month. Winter seems to drag on, colds and sniffles drag on, and my kids get cabin fever. For most of the year, I have a strong enthusiasm for homeschooling. But during the winter months, that enthusiasm sometimes dwindles. And there are days I just want to quit.
Last spring I met a young mom, Elizabeth, at a homeschooling conference. Her oldest was not yet of school age, but she was thinking about homeschooling. Here Elizabeth shares her insights on the prospect of homeschooling:
1 Corinthians 13. It’s probably St. Paul’s most famous letter – the one we often hear at weddings. Listening to it in church a few weeks ago, I realized that St. Paul could have written it (with a few tweaks) specifically for teachers and homeschoolers. In imitation of St. Paul then, here’s St. Paul’s Letter to the Homeschoolers:
I hope you enjoyed last week’s Screwtape Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2. Screwtape is a nasty one, isn’t he? You’ll be glad to know that Bitterwench never did get the letter because, just like last time, Martha’s vigilant Guardian Angel intercepted it. Here is Archangel Gabriel’s advice to Angel Fairlight:
Two years ago, I posted a Screwtape Letter for a Homechool Mom. Well, guess what? He’s baaack! Nasty ol’ Screwtape has another letter of advice for his protegé Bitterwench, the devil assigned to a homeschooling mom.
Do you ever have those days when a dark cloud seems to be hanging over you? Perhaps you didn’t sleep well the night before or health problems are gnawing away at your energy and patience. Maybe your kids are particularly ornery and you can’t get them to stop squabbling, let alone get them to do their school work. Or maybe you had a marital disagreement which has left you feeling deflated and depressed. It sure is hard to be joyful and kind on such days, isn’t it?
Here’s an excerpt from Evangelizing Our Children with Joy that describes the importance of being joyful even in the face of tribulations.
How’s your Lent going? One of the things I love about Lent (no, it’s not the fasting) is that I get a second chance at that New Year’s resolution I have long since broken. Even better, I’m convinced that during Lent Our Lord gives us extra graces to persevere in our resolutions. Perhaps this is because during Lent our sacrifices are aimed at uniting ourselves more closely to His holy cross.
Last week Our Lord made it very clear what He wanted me to give up for Lent. You see, I love my kids, obviously. And I’m truly grateful to be able to stay at home with them. But sometimes, being home with them all day can be a real pain. On any given day, there are so many things my precious ones can do to annoy or frustrate me, not necessarily out of their own fault, but rather because I have the misfortune of being the perfectionist type.
That’s a question a friend asked me last spring. I think I gave her a most unsatisfactory answer, something along the lines of: Well, it depends on the day.
It seems to me that more and more parents feel as if they have no choice but to home school. Some parents feel compelled to homeschool in order to provide religious and moral instruction. Others are concerned about the safety of school environments or the quality of education their children would otherwise be receiving. In any case, the number of homeschooled children has been increasing. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education found that about 1, 096,000 children were homeschooled. By 2013, that number increased by over 60% to approximately 1,770,000, which is 3.4% of school-aged children. So we know that many parents feel obliged to homeschool, but do they love homeschooling?
How was your first month of homeschooling this year?
Here’s how ours began: at 4am in the morning of our first official day of school, Sparky came running into our room. “I’m sick!” he gasped. Then he rushed into the bathroom and threw up.
The rest of the day went downhill from there… or rather uphill, as in rolling a boulder up a hill. That’s how much effort it takes to begin a new routine and get the kids back into the school groove. That first day of school, I felt like a zombie trying to herd a pack of monkeys. As soon as one child would settle down to work, another would get up and wander off. Or one would complain that the work was too hard, or start drumming on his desk. All day long I found myself barking, “Sit down! You’re not done your work!”, “Stop talking and focus on your math!”, and “DON’T WAKE THE BABY!”
By the end of the day, I was in the doldrums of discouragement. And I was asking myself, Why is homeschooling so hard? What am I doing wrong?
Have you ever heard of The Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother by Amy Chua? A controversial New York Times best-seller, it tells the story of a Chinese Yale professor who raises her children “the Chinese way”. I have not read the book, but I am well acquainted with this Chinese way. When I taught piano back in the days when I was single, I had several Chinese students who were being raised by Tiger Mothers. These kids were amazing. They were respectful and hard working. They listened carefully to everything I told them and were very diligent about practicing exactly the way I instructed them to, every day, seven days a week. No wonder they made rapid progress and performed beautifully. I loved teaching the children of Tiger moms. They were dream students.