As homeschool parents, we wear multiple hats. At any given moment, we’re talking math with one child, comforting another, or mediating a conflict. The lines between “parent” and “teacher” blur together.
This is the beauty of learning at home with our kids, but it can also present a challenge: What happens when academic expectations interfere with the parent-child relationship?
When in doubt, your relationship as parent-child is more important than any lesson, curriculum, or co-op class.
I’m not saying that we need to be our kids’ friends or that we don’t have expectations for them. However, there will be times that meeting your kid where he is may be more important than finishing that times tables drill. In fact, pushing to finish when your child is signaling he’s done may actually be harmful in the long run.
Last November, we had just gotten through a huge birthday week with lots of parties and excitement. One day, I quickly decided we needed to get our thank you notes done that afternoon. Without preparing my kids ahead of time or talking through expectations, I plopped down pre-printed templates on the table and announced we were going to get it done. Now.
My writing-resistant son protested.
It was not pretty.
In the end, the cards were written, but only after tears and threatening to take away the gifts if he wasn’t willing to show his gratitude.
I never sent the cards. They were poorly done and not from the heart. Instead, I keep them in a prominent place to remind me of that miserable afternoon, and how I tried to win the battle at the expense of possibly losing the war.
The emotions and beliefs about themselves that children experience while they are learning will stay with them for the rest of their lives. If they associate learning with a warm, supportive environment and a feeling of competency, those connections will stay with them. If they connect math, or writing, or (fill in the blank) with feelings of stress and opposition, that will stick with them as well.
So… find ways to connect with your kids, whether it’s Pam Barnhill’s morning time or creating family costumes like Colleen Kessler, and when the crisis comes, as it inevitably will, take off your teacher hat, cuddle your kid (if they will let you), read, chat, play, or create together.
Remember it’s not us vs. them. Instead, we’re in this together.