Oh yes, we have heard those words uttered.
I had dreaded hearing them. I had even convinced myself that, if I just introduced the learning materials in the ‘perfect way’ (whatever that might be, I still haven’t found it) that magic and flowers and a heavenly chorus would ensue. And my child would happily tackle her quadratic equations, learn a new language, or understand physics intrinsically.
Instead, I heard “But I don’t want to homeschool right now” at the simplest of tasks.
“I don’t like practicing reading!”
“Do I have to write each line?”
“I think this is boring!“
In Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching From the Inside Out, Jack Petrash writes,
“[Children] also learn that there are times when they have to do something (such as clean up their toys) even if they don’t want to. For better or worse this is an essential ingredient in maturity, a characteristic of responsibility.”
And when I read it yesterday I was reminded of a recent conversation our little family had.
Emily: I want us to all go to Coco Key again, as a family.
Me: Well, I can take you on May 4th, sweetie, but Daddy will be at work, so he won’t be able to go.
Emily: I wish Daddy didn’t have to work!
Daddy: But work is my job, just as it is Mama’s job. Adults work.
Me: And kids go to school and learn. That’s their job.
Daddy: Everyone has to have some kind of job, some kind of purpose to their lives.
Since that little discussion, Emily has not argued at all about homeschool. Could it be an aberration?
Now granted, homeschool lasts all of about 15-30 minutes per day. It will increase with first grade and there will be more time involved, but for now, it is pretty simple and straightforward.
Yesterday we studied…
- New Spanish words out of a book her grandmother had sent
- Read a Magic School Bus book on dinosaurs
- Practiced reading with Hooked on Phonics
Later, while I taught a class on Edible Landscaping, Emily practiced her writing skills. I’ve noticed quite an improvement in the last week, let me tell you! She also did one of her dot-to-dot 1 to 100s. Which reminds me that I really need to get her the Dot-to-Dot 1-200 and I think there is even a 1-500 out there.
They are really helping with her number recognition. She’s seeing the patterns, and that’s a lot of fun to watch.
Jack Petrash writes further…
Children need to be responsible and responsive, inwardly as well as outwardly. Students need good “soul” habits as well as good work habits. In short, they need to be emotionally responsive, both to their lessons and with their classmates and teachers. They should not be allowed to erect a wall of disinterest and refuse to make emotional contact with what they study.
This last line struck me the hardest. I’ve seen Emily “cop an attitude” about her homeschool at times. Thankfully not recently. It often feels like she is poking me with a cattle prod.
But in truth, she cannot know or understand the sacrifices we are making for her. She is only five. And I don’t need her to understand that, I only wish for her to have the joy in learning, the emotional investment that is so key to retaining and learning more.
And so I continue to balance it.
Last night, she was an absolute angel. I couldn’t have asked for a better child. While I taught a class for an hour and a half, she quietly ate her dinner, practiced her writing and her dot-to-dot, and then went and played in the stacks of books quietly, without incident.
After the class I picked her up and hugged her, “Oh Emily, you were absolutely wonderful tonight. Thank you for being so well-behaved and keeping yourself entertained after you were done with dinner and homeschool!”
She grinned and hugged me back. “Did you see my writing?”
I turned and picked up the page. We try to keep it interesting, Monday’s assignment was “Fat frogs fart flies” and yesterday’s was “No Bella No!”
“I did see it,” I said smiling at her, and then pointed to one of her Ns, “and I have to say this N is absolutely perfect! You must have worked very hard on that N!”
That’s what homeschooling is all about, folks. Keeping them emotionally connected.
And check out Understanding Waldorf Education, I’m finding it to be an excellent book.