So, Tuesday was tough. At the end of the day I remarked to H. that if we had many more days like that with one particular child that I wasn’t sure if I could homeschool that child next year. And H. wisely reminded me that one should “never make major homeschooling decisions in January or February.” I don’t know why Jan and Feb are filled with woe (as far as school goes). But they seem to be. As I wrote last year in January:
I’m not sure exactly what it is but every January finds me questioning our curriculum choices, convinced that if I only change history programs or find the perfect spelling program all will become peace and harmony. I focus on the things we aren’t doing (nature study, any kind of music appreciation, artist study) and dismiss the things we are doing as inconsequential. One bad day leaves me convinced that I’m a failure as a homeschooler and my kids would be better off in any other kind of school setting.
A few days and some commiserating with other homeschool moms at co-op and I was feeling better. But I still spent the afternoon today researching some new curriculum options and mulling over what I could do to change things up a bit.
Then I did something kind of weird. I searched my own blog. And found that I had pretty good advice for myself.
if things are going badly, I need to start by examining myself and my own attitude before looking at curriculum or anywhere else. I need to get the log out of my own eye. Am I getting enough sleep? Am I getting some physical activity (always helpful to my own mental state)? Am I taking the time to exercise my mind by reading or having good conversations with interesting people?
Learning isn’t always fun.
It can be fun. It can be mostly fun. But it isn’t always fun and I’d argue that there are even times when it shouldn’t be fun.
I think we often confuse having fun in school with the joy of learning. Fun is a quick, fleeting feeling. It’s a silly song that helps you remember the multiplication tables or doing Latin in the treehouse instead of at the table. It’s doing something unexpected to get your kid’s attention. We need some of it in our homeschools, no doubt, just as we all need some fun in our lives.
Joy, on the other hand, comes from a job well done. There is joy in doing something hard, in mastering a difficult concept, in reading deeply about a subject, in acquiring knowledge. But often those things come about by hard work and don’t feel like fun at the time. We are doing our kids a disservice if we lead them to believe that it’s only worth their time to do what feels good or is fun.
That last post was written when a different child was frequently complaining about hating school. I asked that child tonight if he remembered feeling that way. Sure, he said. I asked him if he still felt that way. No. I asked him if he liked school. No, not really. Ok, is there anything he likes about it? Sure, Mom. History and science. Math. Reading. Latin. Hmmm. So, what don’t you like? Writing. And grammar. And art. I said I noticed he doesn’t complain anymore. Yes, he said. I know I have to do it anyway. Plus it gets boring not doing any school for too long. Unless you want to just let me read all day (said with a grin on his face).
Alternative title for this post:
Why H. and my kids are smarter than me.
I blog so as not to forget.
Just in case you are dealing with the mid-winter blues here are links to some of my old posts that helped put things in perspective for me.