What if the problem is you?

(From my blog today - I don't expect it to be popular but from where I am sitting, I needed to say it.)

Everyday about 100 times a day, one of our sisters in the homeschool trenches posts on some homeschool group I belong to (and there are a few) - essentially the same post about a bad day, a bad string of days or a pattern- with a kid or kids they are homeschooling. Kids THEY describe as lazy, sloppy, disobedient, kids who rush their work, take all day, don't try hard, cry, pout, get sent to their room, and generally make life miserable. The poster is always frustrated, disappointed, tired, even angry. They ask for advice.

And everyday on every post on these groups there are some 100 replies offered to the 100 different posts about essentially the same issue. They cover a range advice from "crack down and make them do it over" to "check their diet and use essential oils" to "look for learning issues" to the one people seem to almost ignore and reject flatly - "try unschooling". Everyone of these is good advice for the right kid. I wish I could just copy it and post it, like a checklist. Maybe I'll add that to the book!

I realize what I have to offer on this issue will probably go over like a lead balloon, because it isn't a catchy poster, a quick fix or magic bean, but what the heck.

When I see these messages, I rarely respond anymore. (Here is a little truth, the long term successful veterans RARELY respond because they know folks in the first few years often have to learn the hard way) But my first internal question is always the same: The problem is ALWAYS the child? Really? Is that statistically possible?

They are lazy, sloppy, disobedient kids who just want to get done, do not want to learn, have no pride in their work, rush to finish, and so forth, right? (not a ringing endorsement for homeschooling) AND it's their fault?

I always think to myself... I don't know maybe your kid is sloppy, lazy, disobedient, and doesn't care about learning and doing a good job? But that seems like a parenting issue to me.

My second internal question is: If what you have done to this point has created a lazy, sloppy, disobedient child who doesn't want to learn and doesn't trust you to lead them in learning, then why aren't YOU at least part of the problem?

Which brings me to the meat of this particular blog post.

Relationships. It takes two to Tango. Right? You are in a relationship with your child, and as homeschoolers, it's now a 24/7 complex one. So when it's not working, why assume it's all the child's fault? Why doesn't the possibility exist that YOU are doing it wrong for this child? Is it just possible, just by the narrowest of possibilities that you have listened to the wrong people about how to do this?

Is it possible you thought the de-school thing was going to magically happen but you had no clue what it actually meant?

Could it be you put buying curriculum and creating a cool classroom (the fun stuff) before understanding how your specific child learns and exploring all the methods of learning like the Mason, Montessori, Well Trained Mind methods to name only a few?

Could it be, that your relationship with your child, children, and/or spouse needs to be put on project status and repaired before adding full time education to the fire and then having unrealistic expectations of your children to perform in an environment not properly created for their success?

Could it possibly be that listening to hundreds and hundreds of opinions online all day is only drowning you and that you are really just looking for the answers and responses to reinforce what you already think?

Look, I am a realist. I say do what works. If you and your kids are taking all day to do school, if it's not peaceful, enjoyable, interactive and if your kids don't trust you - I would say that's not working. So maybe at least consider changing courses? Hearing ideas that challenge your thinking?

I won't tell you exactly what WILL work for your kids. I can give you suggestions but if you are bent on doing it a certain way, have at it. As my Gram says, no skin off my nose. And it's really not. I have just one left to homeschool, and life is pretty good here. Not perfect, not without difficult days, but on a scale of 1-10, it's a 10.

My relaxed approach, a Charlotte Mason-ey, child led approach which from time to time borders on unschooling (gasp!) has made my 17 year journey, the single best part of my life. I have loved every minute of it, and while it's been work, once I shifted my thinking, learned about learning, assessed my kids and changed gears 3 yrs. into it, (now 14 yrs. ago) it was smooth sailing.

My two adult children were homeschooled and graduated, they are educated, college grads, successful and above all they love and know God, have a close personal relationship with their siblings and my husband and I. Maybe it won't work the way I do it. I have no need to force my life on anyone. I am offering you nothing more than a glimpse into my life and ideas.

But when I see so many of my sisters fighting and losing the same battles, I feel duty bound as someone who has done this many years and knows literally thousands of homeschoolers in the 5 states we resided to tell you this. When it feels in your gut that it's not working or doesn't feel right - 1) examine the relationships 2)examine the teaching method 3)examine your child's learning style. Be open to accept that you might be wrong.

peace out sisters!

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