A couple of weeks ago I attended the OCHEC convention in Tulsa and, since Mother's Day is here, I wanted to share with you the best advice I think I heard over the two days of workshops. In her workshop on burnout—not that I'm feeling that way right now (ha!)—Susan Chrisman shared that once her children were adults, she asked them what they would have changed about their homeschooling experience. The main answer she got was that they wished that she had been a mom more and a teacher less.
Ouch. That's a tough one.
When you're a homeschooling mom you're in a tough spot, because if learning is a lifestyle, that kind of implies that everything is a learning experience, and so sometimes it's hard to switch that teacher mode off for a bit. You want to point out all the facts they should pay attention to when you're on a field trip or have them answer comprehension questions about a book they're reading, but sometimes they just need to go somewhere and enjoy what they're seeing or read a book and just chat about it with someone else who's interested in what they've read. As my son is wrapping up the fourth grade and as his work load increases a bit more each year, I can see myself being the teacher more often throughout the day, and that's not always a good thing.
Do you need to be the teacher? Of course you do! I know that there are those people out there who claim to leave their children to their own devices and then their children grow up to be neurosurgeons by the age of 21, but really…that's not most of our kids.
I'm fairly sure my children would be able to reenact every episode of SpongeBob perfectly within a month if I let them do what they wanted to do all day (and while that may be quite a feat, I'm not sure it would be the best use of their time.) As their parents, we've decided there are certain things we want them to learn and it's our job to see that they are given the right resources to do that, even when they're not that thrilled about it.
I'm learning—albeit slowly—that when there are those conflicts that arise over assignments, sometimes it's best to step back and think about how I would approach my child if they brought home a frustrating assignment from public school. Am I really expecting too much? Are they expecting too little? Maybe they just need a hug and a snack while they get to work.
This weekend, I hope your family treats you well and that you remember how blessed you are to get to do this job—even when it's hard. Remember that being a mother is the most important job you have and it's much more important than being a good homeschooler.
Happy Mother's Day!