For a long time I've thought about writing a blog on homeschooling. Not because I have anything particularly new to say on the topic, but because I think that my stories could help others. I struggle some days and have victories in others...sometimes a little of both in the same day. There are days I wish I could ship them off to school (public or private) and some days I am so thankful that we homeschool that I shudder at the thought of having to give it up if it should ever come to that. But I'm not abnormal in this. All homeschoolers struggle with these things. The main reason I want to share my stories are because I think it helps to know we aren't alone. Knowing that others understand the struggles even though no one sees your personal struggle but your own family, brings a certain amount of comfort. I know I've been helped by other veteran homeschoolers...so maybe it's my turn to pass it on.
Today's struggle made me certain I needed to start sharing! My kindergartner, K, is a strong willed child. And I'm not exaggerating. I read Dobson's Strong Willed Child and wept at the child he was describing - because it was a my child. Don't get me wrong, she can be super sweet and is one of the most compassionate kids I know. I love her to pieces and I know that God is going to use her in a mighty way one day (if we can just focus that stubborn energy!). But her stubbornness makes for a lot of problems, especially in home schooling.
K tends to get especially frustrated when she can't grasp a concept right away and starts to throw a mini tantrum. In normal circumstances I spank her for tantrums and I occasionally do if one erupts during school...but I try to keep school spankings to a minimum. First and foremost I want my kids to love learning and it hardly helps foster that if you are having to discipline at every turn. So I remain stern with her but give her a little more leeway to express her frustration in school. But I do have my limit...we hit that limit with full force today. So...one thing leads to another, she gets spanked for throwing a pencil in frustration, we finish the lesson in a huff and she stomps upstairs to mope and I to the laundry room to cry.
Through my tears I silently pray, "God, I can't do this! I don't know if I can teach her! What if she never gets over this and resists teaching? What then? Do I send her to school? Maybe a teacher other than mom would get through to her better. But what if we send her and they can't get through to her!? Maybe she would be better off at home. At least I won't give up on her. But what if I can't do it?! What if I make her hate school!? She has so much potential. Oh, Lord help me!" I hear the laundry room door open and in walks K. She holds out a hand drawn picture she made. On it is "mom" and next to it is "i <3 u". She starts to walk away and I call her back. I shut the door and sit on the floor and pull her into my lap. We both start crying (or I start crying again rather) I tell her I love her and that she is so smart and that I'm sorry we had a bad morning. I assure her that if she works harder at not throwing a tantrum then I will work harder at being patient. Tomorrow will be different. My confidence in my ability to get through to her is renewed. Thank you Lord! He knew I needed that moment. It was almost like he was telling me, "See, you can do it. I will help you do it."
I'm sure the struggles will keep coming with K. But I will keep at it and keep praying that God gives me reassurance when I need it. I've never been one to say we will home school forever. I know that seasons of life change, kids are different and need different things at different times. Maybe one day K or one of the others will need to go off to school. But not today. Today I was assured that she is right where she needs to be. That's all I need right now.