Is Homeschooling a Cross?

Once in a while I come across an article where a mom waxes eloquently about the awesomeness of her homeschool. I read about rocket-science experiments, kids reading college-level books, siblings living in beautiful harmony, fabulous field trips, morning baskets full of art and literature enrichment, and peaceful, well-ordered days. 

There was a time when such articles filled me with inspiration and enthusiasm. But twelve years in, I confess,  such articles usually makes me cringe. Homeschooling, for us, is not nearly so picture perfect.  Some days we have a lot of complaining, a lot of bickering, a lot of tears. School is more work than fun. And there are many days when I feel overworked and stressed.  So when I read about another mom’s homeschool awesomeness, I can’t help but wonder: Is she still in the honeymoon stage? Or, I am doing something fundamentally wrong?

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Homeschooling with a Toddler in Tow

Ah, those toddlers! Those cuddly little bundles of curiosity and energy! For many, many years in a row,   I’ve homeschooled with a squiggly toddler on my lap, underfoot, here, there, and everywhere.  Then I had a few years reprieve, and now here we are again trying to solve algebraic problems while the toddler pulls the books off the shelf, slings the markers across the schoolroom, and yanks drawers off their casters.  And, of course, pulls the keys off the computer.

Somehow, I don’t remember how I managed in years past.  I do have recollections of finding all the match box cars in the toilet. But I do have some survival strategies I’d like to share with you that might make homeschooling with a toddler a little more peaceful.

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What St. Ignatius Would Say to a Homeschooling Mom who Wants to Quit

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.

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Frustration-Free Homeschooling? … Not Quite

Here’s a question that came into one of the comment boxes:

How do you prevent frustration (on your part and your child’s) when homeschooling? What do you do when you get frustrated? We’re thinking of homeschooling and I’m very worried about my lack of patience especially with an easily frustrated child. Please advise, thanks.

Frustration is a part of parenting, whether or not you home school. We all get frustrated with our children. We can minimize our frustrations, though, and doing so often has to do with managing expectations. 

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Homeschooling the Large Family in a Small Space

Is it possible to homeschool a large family in a small home? How about homeschooling eleven kids in a three bedroom house? Today’s post is an interview with Helen Helmers, a homeschooling mom whom I have long admired. She shares with us her experiences and the valuable lessons she has learned as a homeschooling mother of a large family.

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Hey Tiger Mom, Tired of Being Tough?

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.

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Loving the Difficult Child

Once in a while, one of my kids fall into a funk – a period of negativity and difficult behavior which makes parenting, especially homeschooling, a real challenge. When this happens, not only do I feel sorrow for my child, but I also feel discouraged and inadequate. And yet, I know that this is a common experience among parents.

Perhaps it’s a hyper-sensitive  child who  whines and cries over the smallest vexations. Perhaps it’s a strong-willed child who fights you tooth and nail whenever you tell him to do something. Perhaps it’s that hormonal middle schooler, who has suddenly become moody, disrespectful, and ultra-critical. Or perhaps it’s a child whose health issues makes her irritable and crabby.

Whatever the situation, although you know deep-down that you love this child, there are times when it can be a real challenge to be patient and loving. So what can we do?

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How to Avoid Homeschooling Burnout – Part 2

In last week’s post, I offered some suggestions about running the school part of homeschooling to avoid homeschool burnout. This week, I want to talk about managing the home part of homeschooling. For many of us, it is not the schooling part that’s throwing us over the edge, it’s the household work and the outside activities that we have to do in addition to educating our children at home.

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How to Avoid Homeschooling Burn Out – Part I

When I was a highschool teacher, I noticed that many teachers would burn out by February. Being a highschool teacher was challenging but it was not nearly as difficult (or rewarding) as homeschooling. In my experience, homeschool burn-out was not something that only happened in the month of February. When my kids were really little, I was often burnt out even by the end of the day!

Granted  I no longer have any toddlers or nursing babies. I can actually sleep at night, and that makes a world of difference. But over the years, I have  also learned that avoiding burn-out really begins at the start of the school year. Here are some tips about managing the school part of homeschooling:

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How to Get Your Kids to Obey

In last week’s post, I touched on the importance of teaching our children to obey. We homeschool moms are keenly aware of the necessity of obedience, for without it not much learning takes place and the home deteriorates into a battle zone. Indeed, several moms tell  me they are reluctant to homeschool because their kids won’t listen to them. The reality is that many of us struggle with getting our children to do their work promptly, responsibly, and without whining or complaining.  Teaching our children to obey well takes a lot of patience and consistency, and it takes a lot of prayer. But the good news is that homeschooling provides us with ample opportunities to grow in those virtues and it gives our children lots of practice in obedience.

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