The hardest part about home educating differs from mom to mom. Some thrive on organization but struggle with flexibility. Some worry about teaching subjects they are not proficient in. Others can’t get a good flow going because of teaching too many grades at once and find it hard to settle into a groove.
A few have unsupportive friends or families and therein lies the rub. No one (despite their Facebook status or blog entries) has smooth sailing everyday, where they leap out of bed, dress the mice in mobcaps and aprons, sing to the canaries, make a wholesome breakfast, hear compliments from their obedient offspring all day about how wondrous their mothering is, plan amazing lessons plans, serve a fabulous dinner in a stylish outfit, and give her Prince Charming a foot rub.
But even so, those are not my particular problems. No, my issue is this:
I hate teaching school.
I love homeschooling
except for, you know, teaching
There. I said it.
I hate teaching.
I love the idea of it, the philosophy of it. I love not worrying about what my kids are doing without me (for crying out loud, they can’t even burp without telling me about it so I’m quite confident I am missing nothing in their upbringing).
I love being in the homeschooling hub. Love the books, the magazines, and the companionship of other mommies. I’m a homeschooling advocate, by crikey! I love homeschooling. I will say it again (thus convincing my inner voice who is being pesky and meddlesome): I love homeschooling!
But I hate teaching school.
Hate the textbooks. Loathe the bad days. Abhor the white board and the drills and the tests and the crafts and the science experiments. Detest fractions and adverbs and broken pencils and bad attitudes. Hate the missing scratch paper and the lost times tables chart and the ticking of the clock. Revile flash cards.
Sometimes my days start out exceptionally bad, with tantrums about history and spelling, crying and carrying on, tears streaming and whining that would make your ears bleed. And that’s before the kids even wake up … When they get up, they aren’t much better than I am. Copy cats.
Once in a while we get through a day where all the lesson plans come together and magically implement correctly and the kids learn something and I learn something and God is in His heaven and all’s right with the world. By mid-year though, those refreshing days are rare; rarer than rainbows, four leaf clovers, finding a twenty in the couch cushions, or a unicorn sighting. The planets must align in the right way, the moon cannot be too full, the temperature in the house must be at a perfect degree, everyone’s bellies must be full and happy, no one needs a diaper change, the dog doesn’t need let out or in, there is nothing else pressing to do, the laundry is done, and dinner is simmering. Only then can homeschooling be a productive and happy experience in my house and that’s…well, that’s a tall order for anybody, isn’t it?
I’d like to picture myself as the schoolmarm from the movie A Christmas Story in the scene where she’s wearing a huge feathered hat and writing A+++++++ all over the walls in her excitement, but sadly I am usually the one from the scene where Ralphie imagines her as the Wicked Witch of the West.
My kids will attest to this. They are still reeling from the shock of being informed by Yours Truly that they will never eat Cream of Wheat in this house again. That stuff is like some sort of strange edible super glue and if I have to scrape it off my counter tops, table tops, bowls, spoons, hair, toenails, clothing, or pets’ one more time, it will be too soon. Two out of three have also been grounded for all eternity from saying the phrase, “I know.” No, you wee gremlins of bottomless confidence, you do not know. Say it again, I dare you.
I never wanted to be a schoolmarm. When I was little I dreamed of being a ballerina or a horse trainer or a detective. Never a school teacher. They’re a rare and wonderful breed, the school teacher and I admire them greatly. But I will never be asked to join their clique.
Of course there are times when it is possible to make learning fun. At least I think so. I’ve read about these times so I know they exist. I wanted to make math more applicable to everyday life but I ran into a problem: you cannot make improper fractions applicable to everyday life. Have you ever had to convert 47/23 cups of sugar while baking? Me neither.
I’ve lived forty-odd years (odder than most) and I’ve never been asked what time the train will arrive if one is going 95 miles an hour and left at lunch and the other is going 40 miles an hour and left yesterday and so one and so forth. Don’t we have train schedules if we need to know that sort of thing?
Actually, I’ve never even been on a train but I were to hop on one I’m fairly confident the conductor won’t force me to work out complicated word problems before he lets me off. If he does I already plan to stab him with my feathered hat pin and then stick his feet to the floor with Cream of Wheat.
You can’t learn that from a textbook.