As students from conventional schools are ending their school year this week and next week, Coby is just a few weeks away from completing his third grade. Hopefully, we end just before his 9th birthday, which falls on a Holy Week, again :-)
I have already expressed in my previous blog that this year has definitely been a challenge for me as a parent-teacher. Not only do I have a preschooler, who in a matter of weeks learned how to read, I also have a third-grader who has been quite a challenge to teach as he is more independent and been wanting to do things his way. My teaching style and parenting style were no longer working for him, so this old dog needed to learn new tricks, so they say.
The monster-mom out of the closet once again, this time more fierce and more impatient. Most of the time our days would end in tears, in endless apologies, and knees rubbing the floor in prayer. I may have uttered the words "forgive me" numerous times this year and pulled my hair out of exasperation. I just couldn't do it anymore. I don't want to do this anymore, I would tell myself. I cannot teach my kids and I don't want to teach ever again. I would flood the inbox of my homeschooling consultant's cellphone every time the frustration kicks in. I would send her messages expressing the same sentiments. I cannot do it and I don't want to do this anymore.
Until finally, I had a heart to heart talk with the mother of all homeschooling families, Tita Girlie, our family's consultant/family adviser/friend and a pioneer homeschooling parent. She listened to my litany and just really listened. I don't know if I was going to be encouraged or not but she said, "As a parent-teacher, what you are going through is normal. All of us went through that, You are not alone, my friend."
Here are the the three things I picked up from our conversation.
1. Don't take it personally. If I see my child not behaving the way I expect him to behave, it's not because of ME at all. The action is never directed at me. At times he shows no interest at all to do school, sometimes sluggish or to be more blunt, lazy to do any work. Something is going on inside of him and it's not because of me. It has absolutely nothing to do with me. He is acting out what he feels inside. He is not doing it to show disrespect, he is just not in the mood period. Nothing to do with Mama at all. But if the behavior persists, bad habits might be formed so I should also be mindful of that.
2. Don't be afraid to take breaks. She suggested doing the Break Box or for our family, we call it the Pick Me Box. It's a box filled with activities written on paper that they can do on their 10 to 15-minute-breaks. We wrote down Draw, Paint, Snack Time, Research on the Internet (because Coby never runs out of questions), Play, Discover the outdoors etc. They pick one paper each and do whatever is written on it. After their breaks, they are energized and ready for the next lesson. Moms need breaks too. When I feel the anger creeping in, I should get myself out of the situation and just take deep breaths. On one occasion, I told him I will just go upstairs on a time out. I went upstairs and prayed until the anger died down.
3. Nagging never works. I never thought of myself as a nagger. But maybe I never knew that my endless talk is already nagging. If you don't have anything nice to say, keep quiet.
4. Always speak blessings. Use positive words. I should not highlight the negative. For example, in Math, when he forgets how to do a certain operation, instead of saying, "We already studied that, how come you don't know", say, "Do you want me to review this topic again to refresh you?" Use words that would edify, that would build up instead of words that would tear them down. "You are so creative.", "Thank you. You are so helpful." "Good thing you told me that, I never knew that before."
5. Build character and break bad habits. One thing I like about homeschooling is that Character is incorporated in all the lessons, in daily life to be exact. They learn attentiveness, respect, responsibility, diligence, orderliness and a lot more character traits that are taught at home, practiced immediately at home and used outside the home as well. As they grow up, bad habits will form if we are not firm in guiding them through our parenting styles. Bad habits should be nipped early on by reminding them of the character traits and that ultimately God sees what they are doing and God sees their heart.
6. Pray unceasingly. Pray for guidance on how to prepare the lesson. Pray for patience when it is drying out. Pray for creativity to keep them hooked and when helping them make their portfolio. Pray for discernment in making choices for them. Pray to express gratitude for a joyful homeschooling day. Pray for their future. Pray that they remember Godly character traits they have learned. Pray that they will apply it. Pray that I will apply it also. Pray for successful completion on each day, each quarter, each school year. Pray that the Holy Spirit will mold the children to the persons God wants them to be.
Now, armed with a new perspective on parenting and teaching, plus a moment by
moment direct line to God for grace and patience, we are at the tail end of our fourth quarter. Would I still homeschool next year? Honestly, after all the struggles, the tears, the aha moments, realizations and lessons learned, I am considering. The blessings received because of homeschooling are far greater than the tears and frustration. I would still do it again only if God would allow me to.