Sunday, September 07, 2008

The reason I won't be homeschooling Iris

Iris, probably saying something bossy

I have long thought that homeschooling would be the best thing to do for our girls. I know plenty of homeschooling families whose children are thriving in that environment and the flexibility of a homeschooled family really appeals to me.

As the months drag by of Iris being in very part time preschool (12 hours a week) I find that often desperately looked forward to her being gone during her school time. I was also struck by how much cool stuff she enjoyed doing at school that she wouldn't be able to do at home, like build a giant space ship with the other eight children in her class and plan a space trip to the sun. Her teacher is worlds more creative and patient than I am. I suspect she might not even truly be human for how patient she can be. It's eery.

The last nail in the coffin for scrapping my homeschooling plans came over a screaming, messy attempt at learning this very morning. It starts with yesterday, actually. Iris and I stopped at the drug store to pick up some band-aids. While we were headed for the check out I spotted some boxes by the schooling supplies, they were kits for preschoolers to learn to read. They were full of workbooks, practice reading books and flash cards and Iris agreed that she thought she would really enjoy them. This morning she picked up the box and asked to do some lessons with me. We hunkered down on the bed and opened a workbook to page one.

I told her that there was a space at the top of the worksheet for her to write her name. She did. Whew. Got through that one! Then I showed her where the number "1" was at the top and the word next to it was "one" O-N-E. There were some shapes below that, one of three different shapes and then a group of four shapes. I explained that she should draw a line between each thing there was only one of and a number one in the other column. She immediately got frustrated and begin slamming her marker on the page before throwing it across the room. Then she got another marker and did the work. Okay, on to number two! With number two she needed to draw the second mitten and second boot next to the pictures on the page. She totally freaked, saying she couldn't do it and begin screaming and throwing stuff around the room. I told her, calmly, that I didn't want to work with her if she was going to be screaming and throwing things. She totally lost it and what ensued was at least an hour or her screaming, throwing stuff, calling people names, it was a mess. She ended up throwing all of her markers in the trash can when I told her she needed to clean them all up. Nice.

I said to Matt, you know, she wouldn't do this at school. She doesn't pitch monster fits over things or decides that she can't do things before she even tries. She doesn't scream at people and throw things around. Apparently I am "lucky" enough to have the kind of relationship with her that this is how she acts when she is with me. I honestly don't think I could homeschool her very effectively. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to get through each day with that sort of dynamic between us. I need her to be able to learn, not engage in daily power struggles.

So, anyways, I'm hanging up any hopes of homeschooling and am instead not-so-patiently Xing the days off of the calendar until Iris is in full-time kindergarten.


  1. woman--I, too am "lucky" enough to have that relationship with my daughter, and I too have thrown my homeschooling dreams out the window. doesn't help that I usually end up screaming like an idiot as well...oops!

  2. It has lots to do with the temperment of your child. Child #1 of mine I could homeschool, no problem. (ALthough I don't feel led to.) My son Xander who jsut started all-day Kindergarten this fall there is no way. I have been unsuccessful during the preschool years to teach him much of anything. He whines, cries, is "tired," etc... It just won't work. HOWEVER, he is the perfect angel for his teacher at school. We are their safe place to express frustration, but at school they won't do that for fear of embarrassment! Whatever works... He's doing great in school and I'm so happy about that. His teacher doesn't believe me about how he acts at home. LOL! I don't blame you at all.

  3. I was in exactly the same situation as you when I was deciding whether or not to homeschool, my 6 year old daughter would not do a single 'lesson' with me (she'd been at school for three years by this time). Its tough. But you know, as soon as I scrapped trying to teach my daughter anything and just let her learn through her own play, everything fell into place and I decided to go ahead and 'unschool' my two children.

    I am so pleased I did - I had them registered in school and everything and then withdrew them both at the last minute.

    Have you ever considered the idea that your daughter loves and trusts you as her mummy, not as a demanding teacher and that the sudden switch may have left her uncertain and confused??? Why don't you carry on being her mom, let her enjoy her play, let her discover the world in her on time, in her own way and see how much joy you two can have living in these small moments together? She will show you the way. It's not about text books.

    Who says you can't build a space ship together in your own back yard?? You can do a hundred, a thousand more things than school can together, but even if you do nothing, she will still be learning.

    I hope that you don't think me insensitive for talking positively about homeschooling, especially as you have made your decision to send her to school, but give yourself (and your daughter) just one more chance and read John Holt's 'How Children Learn' (perhaps again?) and then make your final, final decision.

    Anyway, whatever you decide to do, blessings to you and your family and good luck,

    I love your blog btw - we drink raw milk every day and love it!

    Lune x


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