I read an article the other day that made me roaring mad. It was written by a former teacher, titled: “What Homeschooling Gets Wrong About Socialization, According to a Former Teacher.” It admitted that homeschoolers were doing ok with socialization on one hand, then patronizingly pointed out that we are unable to fully meet a child’s socialization needs. It’s not just about making friends, it’s about learning to work well with others.
Why did it make me so mad? Because parents who are already undecided and fearful about homeschooling would read this mess and assume that it’s the final word on homeschooling. After all, this teacher is experienced, she couldn’t be wrong, right? It adds to the already huge burden of expectations that society places on homeschooling parents. It’s a crushing level of guilt – you can’t possibly do better than we can unless you copy us!
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There’s a profound little quote floating around the internet that really influenced me when we first started homeschooling:
“If you have to tell a child something a thousand times, perhaps it is not the child who is the slow learner.”
Walter Barbe, then editor-in-chief of “Highlights for Children” magazine, 1986, address to teachers
At the time I was dealing with a 4-year-old Engineer who bounced off the walls, refused to do “school work,” and while undeniably bright, wasn’t an academic achiever in any way. After battling him for a little while with the ubiquitous worksheets, I decided that I needed to find another road. I was the problem, not him. My demands were unrealistic. My unfamiliarity with schooling my own child made me rely on traditional school expectations, and those expectations were the problem.
This is the aftermath of art class at my house. Yes, after hosting – more – kids, it’s still cleaner than what mine can accomplish in a day. And at 4am last night (this morning?) I looked at the fruit of my labors and felt happy.
Happy? Yes, happy. And relaxed. Even at 4am. Because it was CLEAN! Organized. Stuff put where it belonged instead of strewn all over the floor in some kind of manic obstacle course designed for adults to kill themselves on. At 4am this morning I realized that mess is a bigger trigger than I thought. I realized that it’s super important for me to maintain this – and I realized that’s almost impossible.
We had co-op today. A very loose, casual style of co-op, that lends itself more to a social gathering/playdate/field trip kind of thing. This group of parents have meshed pretty well, with a core that tries to show up every week. It’s good for us – it’s pushing us to become more active members of the homeschool community.
I watched the Engineer and his friends happily work together to build a small hut out of planks, and I realized that he doesn’t need socialization. Not really. He has the team work thing down, he’s fairly well-mannered, his bossy tendencies are mostly under control, and he makes friends easily. He’s doing great! I, on the other hand …
Today was rough. Is rough. I’ve put kiddos to bed, but I’m still dealing with my own issues. I feel like I failed everyone today: the kids, my husband, and myself. Why? Because nothing got done.
It hit me as I finally got a shower after the kids went to bed (I usually shower in the morning – that’s how my day has been) that my attitude is a really bad example. I preach to my kids and on this blog that gifted doesn’t mean high achieving, and then I beat myself up over a bad day where nothing got done. I achieved nothing. Forget high achieving, today was about surviving.