It’s only been a month and a half since we started homeschooling, and I’m already questioning my abilities both as a mom and a teacher. We started very excited about this whole thing, certain that we would succeed, but I’m not so sure anymore. Lesson planning has started to overwhelm me and at times I simply couldn’t help getting disappointed when I don’t get a satisfactory answer to the questions I throw at my students, my daughters. I mean, seriously, I can’t help wondering what they learned from that private school they used to attend. (And how come I wasn’t aware of it?)
It’s been days since we have resorted to self-studying. I was hoping this would help our situation, or at least myself to regain control and get a stronger grip on what we’re doing. Unlike before when we would sit down together and discuss each page of the book that we’re supposed to cover on a certain day, lately, I have been assigning my girls pages to read by themselves along with some exercises to answer.
Of course, I’d make it clear that they could come to me and ask questions if there’s anything they did not understand. At first, it seemed to work as they both probably felt the need for some space too. After all, they’re not used to this kind of close monitoring and learning together, being first time homeschoolers and not counting their preschool years. However, I’m afraid I have started to become too comfortable in this kind of setup while they’re starting to lose focus–self-studying, that is.
Some days, my husband is his usual supportive self, but some days, well, he simply is not. He’s starting to think that I’m not doing a very good job, especially by letting the kids oversleep on a weekday. He fears that such habit would cost them a lot when they get to college, where they could have classes as early as 7:30 AM, even 7 o’clock.
I suppose he’s right, although I tend to assure him that it isn’t too late yet for them to become morning persons. (Or, is it?) Besides, we still have time to catch up with everything, we have 12 months to study all the subjects, plus the girls can actually wake up early when needed. No matter how much I try to placate him, however, I do agree with him and I am starting to get nervous for my girls’ future too. I, myself, often got into trouble with my college professors because of tardiness (seriously, classes at 7AM is pure torture) regardless of how I aced in the class itself.
It also doesn’t help when a relative would emphatically tell me in front of my daughters that my girls should go back to regular school simply because they need socialization. As much as I disagree, I know he wouldn’t understand even if I explain to him that socialization is not the most important thing for my daughters to learn at this point in their lives. They are sociable, all right.
I’ve brought them to business meetings and seminars and they were able handle themselves well. Young as they are, they could carry conversations with successful entrepreneurs, including millionaires, foreign authors, and resource speakers. Recently, they interviewed a Filipino scientist/renowned orthopedic surgeon for their Science class and it went well. (I’ll have it posted here and on their own blog soon.) They also easily make friends, even with kids they’ve met for the first time at mall lounges. So, how’s that for socialization skills?
If you ask me, the kind of socialization they need now is with kids at the orphanage. Although my daughters are very generous, i.e., donating school supplies with their own money to charities for underprivileged kids, and giving away some of their clothes and toys, especially when calamities strike, they could get very suspicious of street kids. They also tend to have that privileged mindset at times… I know. Who doesn’t, right, especially for millenials they say? But still…
Now, this is really difficult for me to admit, but this is one of the primary reasons we decided to homeschool. All those academic awards they have amassed yearly at the private school they used to attend seem meaningless (to me) now after their academic abilities were assessed at another school and their scores did not meet all the criteria that would say they were at par with their grade level, particularly in Math and some areas in English. And so, I took to heart what Napoleon Bonaparte said, when it comes to my children’s education, especially that I could not find a better educational institution in the area:
“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”
Only I’m no longer sure if I’m doing it well. Even if I were an experienced teacher. Even if I am their mother and I love them. I’m no longer sure if I were doing it out of love for my daughters or to glorify myself, that I may boast one day of having raised well-mannered and well-educated homeschooled women. Perhaps partly I was.
Like a jolt of lightning, my fourth grader’s academic adviser’s voice came into my mind. Her tone had a mixture of disappointment, hope, and challenge, as she showed me the results of my daughter’s assessment and told me that I could either be my daughter’s best teacher or worst teacher. I remember her looking at me straight in the eye as she repeated that I had to decide whether I would be my daughter’s best or worst teacher. And now I realize that I have to make that decision everyday, i.e., to be the best teacher to my girls, when I wake up in the morning, as I sit next to my daughters during the day, and as I lay in bed at night.
Certainly, homeschooling is no easy feat. If you’re going to convince me that it’s all fun and easy, then I’d say that you’re probably not doing it right. One could never take education so lightly; learning comes with discipline, and both the teacher and student are learners, although yes, it can be fun. (But not fun AND easy.) Even learning from the simple things in life require discipline. If one has not trained himself to always be grateful and look for the good in every situation, I don’t think that person could learn anything at all or at least, be happy.
It may take a while longer before I am finally able to sort this whole homeschooling business. I may have to revise our schedule again and go back to studying our lessons from Day 1 to ensure that my girls and I really understand what we are studying. I may have to arrange for them more interviews with experts in different fields and bring them to places where the things they see and read in the books would come alive. Viewed that way, homeschooling, like a dear friend said earlier to me, is indeed an exciting adventure.
However, more than anything, homeschooling is really about character development. In the span of one and a half month, I have seen what my girls are capable of, academically, including learning and creating things by themselves. I have yet to see more positive changes though when it comes to their behavior, especially when it involves having them work together side by side. And yes, help them focus and manage their time as well as other resources better.
Once more, I am reminded that I am no Wonder Woman or Super Girl. I cannot do everything on my own. I am still that Proverbs 31 Woman in the making, dependent on God’s grace, in need of Him to bless the works of my hands. This time I’m holding on to what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 (NIV):
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Now that’s definitely much better advice than Bonaparte’s, not to mention it’s a promise given by Someone we can depend on, don’t you think? ❤