The Hardest Part of Homeschooling: Parenting
When our children are born, we become parents. We are responsible for every aspect of their lives including their health, early learning, discipline etc. This responsibility is called parenting. It is not always fun, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Many people feel overwhelmed when becoming a parent, especially with their first born child. It is one of the greatest jobs that adults ever hold. As parents, we strive to train our children to be people that we will like as adults and who others can enjoy.
When children are sent off to kindergarten, parents usually cry. This cultural sending away of our 5 year old children is considered a right of passage, a testimony to their increased ability to learn and prove themselves in the world at large. Consequently, the parent who might have stayed home with their baby is no longer with their child from 8am to 3pm, approximately. This is what I call "part-time" parenting because the actual time a parent is with their child during the day is cut in half at least. The role as educator and babysitter is largely removed from their hands and placed into the hands of their kindergarten teacher, usually a complete stranger. Getting up at 7am and coming home at 3pm from school takes up a lot of time in the day of a child, but even the time at home is often dictated in some measure by the school schedule. Once home, there is snack and a nap or maybe even an after school activity. Homework is the main focus of the evening, usually. If the parent works a job outside of the home they might not see their child until 6pm, and then there is only time for doing whatever it takes to get ready for the next day before bed. Furthermore, the busyness of going to school can seem to hide a lot about a child from parents.
One of the main reasons that I suggest that the hardest part of homeschooling is parenting, not educating, is that by choosing to homeschool, parents go from being "part-time" parents to "full-time" parents. By "full-time", I mean that the parents are completely responsible for whole day with their child now. In homeschooling, parents simply have so much more time in their day with their child and this can be one of the hardest parts in the first year. As parents begin "full-time", hands-on parenting in homeschooling, they might become discouraged at first, because what it takes to make this change can be a lot more than expected and it is tough sometimes. Being with a child every day, all day is a challenge for new homeschooling parents due to discipline issues, educational issues, emotional issues, etc. Sometimes parents feel like they are "seeing" their child for the first time in a long time. There is an adjustment period for everyone in the family involved in homeschooling. Parents now not only have to provide their child's education, they have to provide the structure to make that education happen, and they have to fill in all the other minutes and hours. They might feel as though they will not succeed in this new endeavor. If this applies to you, please remember the harder the challenge, the greater the reward! Reach out for help if you need it. You are not parenting or homeschooling alone. Many others are trying it too! Finding a community can really help.
I once had a parent of a child in my homeschooling class tell me that their child lacked motivation to do his homework. This parent wanted me to make recommendations how to fix his lack of participation; she did not feel that she could or should make him do his work for class. She even eventually blamed my class for making homeschooling too hard and she felt it was my responsibility as his teacher to motivate her child to do his work. At the same time she said she couldn't get him to do much, if any, of his school work at home for any subject. But the issue wasn't classwork, the issue was simply PARENTING. To illustrate this point I asked her, "How do you motivate your child to do anything he doesn't want to do? How do you motivate him to get up on time in the morning? How do you motivate him to take a shower? How do you motivate him to clean his room? Do his chores?"
Making children do what they do not want to do is not the fun part of being a parent, so I understood her problem. But parenting is increasingly necessary when homeschooling. Homeschooling simply requires more parenting oversight from families. It requires more of the same kind of parenting that school-going parents have opportunity to deal with in the after school hours, as well as all the educational decisions that they will now have to make and all the responsibilities those include.
While the first year of this can be rough, eventually homelife becomes so much easier. Families learn to be a unit again. Kids learn what homeschooling is and what it isn't. Usually once children become used to homeschooling the anxiety and the tension over education leaves and discipline issues subside. Parents learn how to handle the new rhythm of the day and where to find good educational resources. They also learn how to be comfortable with their child's new method of education, which is likely much different than the one they experienced themselves. That is why I call the first year a year of "grace".
If you are a new parent in need of homeschooling support, we can help to make your homeschooling journey successful in many ways. For example, in our homeschool planning tools, we have a calendar unlike any other you will find. Setting this up can be key to a smooth transition into homeschooling. It is part of a homeschooling planning workshop we have developed that breaks your day down into different kinds of time so everyone knows what time it is. It makes sure that there is adequate time for you to teach your child, your child works independently, and both of you plan other activities by discussing your individual plans and considering what is needed at every grade level. This helps with the parenting of homeschooling so that kids know what to expect every day and every week and eases your parenting load during the week. It also helps if you have a system of rewards as well as punishments. In the first year, especially, I recommend spending quality time together having fun as often as you can! Try new things together. It can be too easy to worry about the academic aspect falling behind and forget to enjoy this time with your child. They are only young once! And all learning does not have to happen in a classroom setting.
Finally, we must remember God gave us our children and He did not give them to anyone else. Trust God and follow your heart therefore in their education. If you have been called to homeschool, please let us empower you in this journey. When it comes to homeschooling and planning while parenting, we can give you some tips that will make this task just a little easier. Contact us today.