Monday, September 12, 2011

Homeschooling Pressures

Sometimes my mind swirls thinking of all the things I should teach Bonnie but can't, because of time or money constraints. When will she start learning a musical instrument? When am I going to find her online or private art instruction? Is the Spanish immersion software she's using really teaching her enough Spanish? What if I forget something major that she needs before college? The list goes on. I love homeschooling my kids, but to say there is a lot of pressure as a homeschooling mom is a pretty major understatement.

When I see Bonnie's messy handwriting, I feel responsible. When she has trouble spelling words, despite being a voracious reader and working every week with a good spelling curriculum, I feel responsible. When she doesn't get an answer to a mental math problem quickly enough, I feel responsible. And though I'm suspicious that she intentionally starts sentences with "Me and ______ ..." just to drive me crazy, I still feel responsible when she says it in front of someone. See the trend here? It's kind of like maternal guilt on crack. I can't just say, "Oh, she must have picked that up at school."

As a homeschooling Mom, I feel like anything lacking in my kids' education is an indictment against homeschooling and an indictment against me as a teacher. Yesterday, while watching a 9/11 memorial with Kelly, Jack and Bonnie (Fred was playing outside), Kelly mentioned Bin Laden, and Bonnie said "Who is Bin Laden?" Oh my god. How could my ten year old daughter not know who Bin Laden was? I was almost speechless and immediately became defensive. Well, we did study and talk about Bin Laden, multiple times, especially in the days following his death. Bonnie, you remember...

Today by lunch time, Bonnie had completed math, grammar and writing lessons, as well as read a chapter in her history book and written a short summary about it. She's also read part of a book, played chess with her brothers, and frolicked outside. After her current break, she'll complete 30 minutes of Spanish, and we'll start our science unit for the week. She'll read independently for at least another hour between now and bedtime. Looking over this and comparing it to what she did in an average day in public school in the past, it seems like plenty of school work for one day. The problem is that I'm always thinking of more that we could be doing. 

As with other areas of parenting, I have to make sure I don't unfairly burden Bonnie with my expectations. I will never be able to teach her everything, but as long as I teach her the basics and foster her natural-born love of learning, she's going to be okay. In the mean time, if I don't figure out how to get her to stop starting sentences with the word "me," I am going to lose what's left of my mind.



  1. My boy, Will, is also a voracious reader, but a poor speller (even though he does well on spelling tests).

  2. Yes, Bonnie can study and memorize a list for a spelling test, but then she will misspell the word saw as "sall" in a story she writes. It's so frustrating! I wonder if she might never be a "strong" speller, regardless of how much time we put into it. If that's the case, then that time could be better spent on other subjects.

    It's also worth considering that my husband, though also an avid reader, is not particularly good at spelling. Maybe I can remove all my teacher guilt and file away her poor spelling under "genetics." :)

  3. I knew a very smart guy -- a linguist who could decipher fairly sophisticated codes IN ARABIC -- who spelled the word 'tomorrow' three different ways in a single page. We used to trade encrypted notes and his were particularly hard to crack because of all the inadvertent misspellings. Keyboards and spellcheckers will render lousy handwriting and poor spelling almost unnoticeable, anyway. (And I was totally right about long division as a kid -- I use a calculator.)

    1. I never properly thanked you for this... it gave me the courage to throw out our spelling book this year. And boy has it made a difference in the happiness level around here.