One of the things everyone, who isn’t homeschooling, says to me when they find out we are is, “I wouldn’t have the patience”. A couple of years ago I said this exact same thing. People seem to assume that patience and homeschooling go hand in hand. Doing anything with a child requires patience though, doesn’t it? And while everyone arrives bearing gifts of nappies and wet wipes, no brings patience.
Like many of you, I struggle with patience as a parent. Sometimes it is just easier to do things myself instead of letting the kids learn themselves. No one has the patience for potty training, right? And I have zero patience when it comes to kids fighting over nonsense. Seriously this is the one thing that drives me absolutely mental.
If you ask anyone who knows me, none of them will use the word patient to describe me. Despite this, I still decided to homeschool.
Unfortunately, just like with parenting, no one arrived with a bucket load of patience for me when we started this new journey. We are now 6 months in and I wish I could tell you I am suddenly the world’s most patient mom, I am not. What I am though, is learning how to educate my kids using the patience I do have.
On our good school days, it is dreamlike. The kids sit down without a fuss, they are engaged and they are excited to be learning. Those days are amazing and give me the energy for the bad days.
On our bad days, it is a nightmare. It is a fight from the start but I am now learning that on those bad days it is ok to stop fighting and either take the day off or spend the morning googling different types of lemurs.
I find Jack the most challenging, not because he misbehaves but because he really struggles to focus. He can not sit still. It takes him ages to settle and before he will sit down he needs to build some Lego, check outside, get some water, go to the loo, find the right pencil, google something – the list is endless. Once he is sitting down he then needs to find the right position. Then he needs to know exactly how long we will be doing school and exactly what pages we will be doing. Then we start.
This is also not without it’s challenges, the minute he hits a problem, he shuts down and we have to start the whole process again. I have figured this out and I work around it most days, starting with the easier work and then moving to the harder stuff. Most days it works but sometimes I just don’t have the patience and there is some shouting, some crying and some questioning of life choices. But that’s life isn’t it?
What do I do on the low patience days?
As we figure this whole homeschooling thing out, the better I am handling these days. But when my patience is low, I do some (or all) of these things.
I walk away! I physically walk away, make some coffee or just sit in my room for a couple of minutes. It allows us all a chance to catch our breath and refocus.
We cancel the day and start again tomorrow. I try not to make a habit of this, purely because the routine keeps us all sane and getting back into it after a few days off is not easy.
I get David to step in. Sometimes I hit a wall when trying to explain something to one or both of them. If David is around I get him to step in help. It also helps to get him to keep one of them busy while I work with the other one, especially if we are having a tough day.
We do something fun. I am learning to let go of the traditional way of teaching things and so if I am feeling low on patience I skip the formal stuff and we do some art or experiments or just google topics they are keen on.
There are a lot of moments where I have to dig really really deep to keep calm and there are times I do wonder if I can actually do this. Some days I get it all wrong and I lose my temper and it is mess. But those days aren’t every day, they aren’t even the majority of the days.