Friday, May 23, 2014

I Hate School

I knew he'd say it eventually.  All the homeschooling books make it seem like an absolute utopia where children fall in love with learning every step of the way.  I wanted to believe them but I knew one of my kids would say it in a fit of frustration.  I hate school.  And yet, instead of making me feel bad, I felt as if we were finally getting somewhere.

One of my main goals is to teach my kids to be independent learners.  I want to give them a problem and point them toward all the resources to solve it.  I don't want to hang over their shoulders leading them to every answer, especially when I know they already have the mind to figure it out.  For most of the Kindergarten year, I have done the opposite.  

I have been sitting patiently at the table working every math problem with him, helping him shape each number and cheering him on.  Now that I know what he's capable of doing, I am setting him free a bit more.  I'm setting up his work and walking away with instructions to do his best and bring me the work when it's completed.  I stress that it doesn't have to be perfect.  I tell him that we'll fix any of them that need to be fixed.  And then I walk away to work with my two year old.  This has really pissed him off. 

"But I need heeellllp!" he whined yesterday after I explained his directions and set him up with his work.  "Okay.  Just skip problems that are tough and do the others.  But I expect you to try on your own first," I explained.  "You may not interrupt your brother and me until you've done all of your math and handwriting."  He harrumphed back to his spot on the floor and started writing.  Within two minutes, he was back.  "I can't do it!" he complained.  "I don't know how!!"  he said as he fell in a heap on the floor.  I looked at his paper.  It was covered with pictures of trains and tracks but there wasn't a number in sight.  "Hmmm..." I said.  "Looks like you've worked hard on your trains but not much on your work.  I expect more of you," I continued.  I went over the directions and one problem with him then sent him away to finish on his own.

My middle came with me to help me switch out a shower curtain and, immediately, my oldest followed.  "Why does Drew get to do all the fun things when I just have to do all this stupid work?!  I hate school!" and in a fit of anger, he swiped my new shower curtain with his marker.  To say that I was angry and frustrated would be a major understatement.  "I need a time out from you.  Go in your room.  I'll be there in a minute," I said in a steely voice.   

He was crying when I walked into his room.  "Why did you send me away!?" he wailed.  "Because you were destructive," I explained.  "No matter how frustrated you are, you cannot ruin my things.  You will try to clean my shower curtain and if the marker doesn't come out, I am buying a new shower curtain with the money from your train fund.  Got it?" I said.  He shook his head and looked at me with wide eyes.  "School is hard, I understand that.  But you have what it takes.  As soon as you focus, you can get done and move on to other things.  Now get in there and show me what you can do," I said.

Finally, he listened.  He finished his work within 15 minutes and only missed one problem.  He was incredibly proud of himself and told his daddy how he had done math all by himself.  I was exhausted, but so thankful that we got somewhere.  

Helping our children to be all they can be is incredibly hard work.  It's so much easier to just leave them alone.  But some kids, like my oldest, must be pushed to realize all they are capable of doing on their own.  If we keep our eyes on the future and can see what we want for them, it helps to hold our resolve.  They will fight us at times, but they will thank us in the end.

How do you encourage your children's independence?  How do you show them all they are capable of doing?

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