Reprinted with permission from the blog Petra School
Many people think that they can homeschool in preschool or kindergarten, that it will be easy. They jump in, buy lots of workbooks and supplies and set out.
The parents set up their classrooms and have grand ideas of sitting quietly for long stretches of time as their children joyfully absorb knowledge like as sponge and gain wisdom and understanding.
It’s a lot like the first time you set out to go fishing. Dad’s buy the gear, a bait box, hooks, bobbers, bait. Maybe a life jacket and a net. You research and figure out what sort of setup you need for the area that will be fished. The joy and excitement of the day builds. It is beautiful outside, the pond is stocked and you’re just all wound up.
And that’s when it happens. You realize your child can’t cast. That each cast ends up in knots in the line. You spend more time untangling your children’s gear. It takes about 4 and a half minutes, a generous estimate, for the child to loose interest in fishing. You spend time trying to re string the pole with hooks and bait and cast it into the water yourself. Meanwhile, Jr is now trying to catch minnows with marshmallows near the river, or maybe throwing rocks into the very spot you are trying to fish in. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe you didn’t get the right gear. Maybe you are just bad at explaining fishing.
The same thing can happen with preschool and early elementary. You’ve bought a lot of supplies, and have ideas, but the learning time turns to chaos. They ask more questions than you can answer. They refuse to fill out the worksheet as intended and want to talk about a minor part of the lesson. Crayons get broken, glue gets spilled, and it seems like all you do all day is prepare and clean up after mini meals. Laundry is out of control and you’re praying that hubby doesn’t stop by in the middle of the day. You are praying that a friend will stop by and ask to take your kids to the park while you get a nap. Maybe you didn’t get the right curriculum. Maybe you are just bad at presenting the information to your kids?
As you can see, we were at the Fish Hatchery Free Fishing Day. Jon is 12 and Nate is 15. The next thing that is the same between fishing and homeschooling – is comparing your kids to those around you. You might want your child to fish as well as Jon, but you forget he’s been fishing since he could hold a pole. And he’s 12.
We saw all types of families. Parents who just broke down and did every step themselves. Their hands always on the pole. The yellers. the crier’s. The beggars. Families that brought a neighbor or grandfather to help with the kids. Moms who dug in to the worm bucket. Dad’s that stood back and drank a soda. 90% – we saw the frustrated. Parents who had a vision of how their child would respond to the day – and they didn’t react the way mom or dad expected. They weren’t focused enough. Mom and dad’s instructions were not being adhered to. They got the fish they didn’t want and cut the line or threw it back. Waiting, longing, for the biggest fish.
I remember, oh how I remember with tears, when Jon started fishing. The massive tangles of line. I declared that I was NOT fit to take him out. He wouldn’t listen to me and had about a 2 minute attention span to fishing anyway. Then one day we were at a lake, the very one that I , as a child, learned to love to fish. Three older gentlemen saw my near breakdown. (Ok, Full Blown Breakdown). They gently called him over with his brother. Let them use their poles. Talked to them calmly. Showed them. Put them in a successful situation. And they both caught 18+ inch trout.
My advice – is to take a breath. You can walk down a curriculum aisle, or a fishing isle, and feel overwhelmed with choices. Spend time figuring out your teaching style. Time with their learning style. Think of how they connect to things you’ve already taught them with life skills. What sparks their interest? What holds their attention? What makes them ask questions?
You’ll find your groove. And know, that each year, sometimes each month – it DOES get easier. They figure it out – you figure it out.
The boys are both fishing on their own. They take care of their own gear. They’ve won fishing contests numerous times, and they fish with their friends often. Jon just got in from the lake fishing with a friend this evening.
The same with academic lessons. They are both reading and figuring well. They can research and explain things to me. They like to include their friends. They get excited about new information.
But they are 12 and 15. And we’ve been at this a long time. It does get easier, not harder.
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