Trust me. TRUST ME. I am one to talk up the advantages of homeschooling. I do it constantly, as anyone who knows me can attest. Heck. I'll even do it right now. Here goes: I have the precious opportunity to witness those lightbulb moments when my children "get" a concept for the first time. There are few things in life as rewarding as witnessing that moment. I also have the unique opportunity to tailor my kids education for their specific needs. One needs to repeat math but not necessarily the entire grade? Fine. We repeat math and go on to the next grade with the other levels. Everything always balances out in the end (after all, sometimes kids aren't ready to understand things in a cookie cutter fashion). I never need to worry or fret about what my kids are being taught. I am always aware and up to date on what their education. I even learn with them. I can almost hear myself getting smarter as they do.
Yet. There are decided disadvantages. Of course, for us, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages and that's why we do what we do. The thing that's on my mind most lately is my high (astronomically high) expectations that I have set for my kids. I have always had a tendency to push to hard, sometimes even to the point of utter frustration. Somehow, once we cross that line, it's like I can't stop pushing it. Then more frustration leads to anger and leads to the kids shutting down and not learning but regressing instead. I actually found that I'm not alone in this. A lot of us homeschoolers would be guilty of this. Thank goodness that a sweet friend gave me the best advice the other day.
I was struggling with my daughter, my sweet, delicate, adorable daughter....... struggling with getting her to count up to 20 without skipping 16 and 17 which she constantly does. I had been patient for weeks. However, after witnessing her decode several difficult words on her own and watching her read and write so well, something in me became really irked that she constantly forgot to say 16 and 17. Somehow I convinced myself that she was doing it on purpose, maybe just to annoy me even. I sat there and probably tortured her (figuratively of course) making her recite 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 over and over. And after 30 grueling minutes of that, when asked to count again, she still couldn't get it. I made her leave the table in anger. Just told her shortly and un-politely to go off and play. She left in shame, knowing she had disappointed me. She cried and I felt....just wrong. It's hard to describe really.
So later I brought this issue up to some of my homeschooling support people (aka, fellow moms). I recieved lots of great advice on how to help her remember how to count, but the best advice I heard was simply this: drop it for a while. Drop the issue and seek God's guidance. Ask the Lord to help her remember (and I thought on my own to ask Him to soften my heart toward my sweet little girl and to help me remember that she's still such a young little child). The person's (who gave the advice) reasoning was so that my sanity would be saved and my girl's heart would be protected. My girl's heart. Here I was thinking of nurturing my kids' minds and I almost forgot about their most precious and important part. Their heart. I almost forgot how tender and trusting they are. I would never want to drill and force that sweetness and tenderness out of them.
After all. I could turn the disadvantage of having me (their mom) as a teacher into an advantage. Who should know better how to protect their children's hearts than their own parents. I pray that I'll take this lesson to heart and never forget it again.