Kids and parents are embarking on a whole new world this week. There will be fights, arguments, tears (probably more from parents), tantrums (definitely more from parents), stress, frustration, some work may get done, but it will ultimately feel like a huge struggle for many.
Because it is new and different. Change is hard, change is challenging, even for those that love change. The only constant in this world is change. But the degree of change this time around is quite immense. Regardless of its intensity, this new challenge can be viewed in a couple of ways:
- A complete burden and horror show that will eventually end, and all the pain and suffering of having to endure such a god awful time will be over. We will just have to cop it and deal with the stress until it’s done.
- A big difficult and new challenge, but a worthy one. One that will start out uncomfortable and stressful, but one that will reap with long term rewards.
Both pathways endure suffering and stress. It is unavoidable when everything completely changes into a whole different and unfamiliar paradox. But one pathway spends all of its effort and energy trying to avoid or minimise the short term pain… every single day on repeat, while the other pathway accepts the pain in order to experience long term success well beyond just one term of school. No worthy goal was ever accomplished without struggle. If we look to only avoid the struggle we will never achieve the goal.
Once we have gotten past this and accepted that this will be tough, we can move onto tackling the problems…
Problem 1: I am not a teacher, how the hell am I going to teach my kids?
I think I speak for all teachers when I say this… Your children/s teachers are not expecting you to be a teacher. They aren’t expecting you to instantly become the person they took 4 years of university to become. It simply cannot happen. Your teachers also fully understand that you are most likely still working too, so they aren’t expecting the same workload. So before you do anything, give yourselves a break. In the overall scheme of things, your child/ren aren’t going to be intellectually screwed just because they couldn’t complete as much work as they usually would do. And this reduction in theory and bookwork may just be a good thing.
Problem 2: My kids won’t listen to me or show the same respect that they show their teachers. It is a near-literal shitfight to get them to put effort into anything, even when they do they fight with me when I try to correct them.
I think just about every parent will experience this to some degree. This inconsistent behaviour from parent to teacher that our kids display purely occurs due to the type of relationships kids share with their parents compared to the relationship they share with their teachers. Our kids are most comfortable with us, as they should be. They are comfortable with sharing more emotions, positive and negative, with us than they would their teachers. This means that they are more than comfortable to argue back, tell you they don’t want to do it, or tell you to bugger off. It is not that they don’t respect you (Well, some kids actually don’t. If you’ve brought them up as the true bosses of the house, giving them everything and anything they ask for to avoid a tantrum and not follow through on disciplinary threats. Or you do things so they treat you more as their friend first, rather than parent first, then you may have a child who has zero respect for you on your hands), they just respect you in a different way they respect their teachers.
Your kids are likely to have no problem disappointing you, because at the end of the day you’re the one that will be there, telling them bedtime stories and giving them kisses and snuggles before bed. Your love and care is unconditional, so there will always be lines your kids will test to cross. Your kids although, will have a much harder time letting down their teacher. In their world the roles of the parent and the roles of the teacher are very different, and they like that it is separate. So trying to force anything different is going to be incredibly difficult. If you think you can just dictate your child’s classes just like your teachers can, you are in for a rude awakening. Rather than trying to move an immovable force, make sure that your kids realise that it is not you asking them to complete their schoolwork, it is their teachers. Make them aware that their teachers will be checking in to help them and correct their work and that you are just a mere observer and helper, like a student aide. At this early stage your job is not to enforce rules and become the new teacher, your job is to just deliver the message your child’s teachers have for them. Do this and you are far more likely to see success. If your kids feel that you are their new teacher, and you now have two very differing roles in their eyes, expect to be treated worse than that substitute teacher you gave all the grief to in year 7. Especially when you haven’t earned credibility in the new role yet. Just as your kids wouldn’t take to their teacher being their new mum in a one day transition.
Remember that shock transition is just as strange and unfamiliar to them as it is to you. You cannot expect them to just be on board day 1. Help them by making it feel a little more like school for them, make it familiar (this morning I cranked Jojo Siwa’s song Boomerang at 9am, just at her school plays a song to signal the beginning of the school day. Worked a treat!). Over time you will earn their respect as a teacher of sorts and the process will get easier.
Personally, I am a huge believer that school is far too long. Sending kids to school for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week doesn’t benefit the kids, it benefits adults and the fast paced, busy modern industrial world. Hopefully the current state of the world causes a long term change to the ultra fast work lives we have created, and we learn that maybe it isn’t the very best method for quality living.
As much as kids need to know how to read and write, so much time, responsibility, opportunity and choice is taken away from them to pursue the things they enjoy most. So many kids have information forced on them that they are so disinterested in. The result, they get frustrated, they struggle to make associations with the content, they don’t comply, schools tell them they are stupid and are failures and doctors tell them they have ADD. When in actual fact the child just doesn’t connect with the content. Hand the child a hammer and nails, or garden tools, or cooking utensils, and off they go like a rocket!
We often get so caught up in doing what we think we ‘should’ do and making sure we ‘fix’ our weaknesses, that we forget about supporting and promoting our strengths.
If your child absolutely cannot stand the traditional school system and it causes them stress, anxiety, anger and frustration. And as a result minimal learning takes place, plus a new negative association has been formed between learning and stress. Yet you know of methods and topics that they do love, that don’t give them stress, where learning does occur even though it isn’t quite how schools deliver it, isn’t that better? Isn’t that going to help lead your child down the pathway that will give them the most opportunities and the most happiness?
My favourite thing about the homeschooled system is that the kids are given the freedom to pursue what drives them the most. Home schooled parents don’t need to force learning and fight and argue about getting work done, because their kids want to learn about the things they like, just as adults enjoy the freedom to pursue the things they want to learn more about too.
If a child loves fishing, he will seek out fishing books and videos. In doing so he will learn reading skills. When putting his fishing passion to practice he will learn and develop measuring skills, problem solving, knot tying. He will learn the importance of patience as well as develop his fine and gross motor skills. All of this will be a by-product of his interest in fishing.
If a child loves building and construction, she will learn to follow instructions or develop her own imagination and creativity through something like LEGO. She will learn how to measure and count and develop both fine and gross motor skills while working on a building project with timber and nails. She will learn these important physical and intellectual skills more than any text book because of such high association between theory and practice, all fuelled by her passion for the subject.
So when all of this feels like too much. When both you and your kids are overwhelmed and burnt out attempting to ‘school’, remind yourself that traditional school, as great as it may be, has many limitations. This what we have right now is an opportunity to help our kids become more independent, more worldly and to absolutely excel at what they love to excel at most. It may not be exactly what you envision ‘school’ to be. It may go against everything you think is ‘the way’. Your way is not ‘THE WAY’, it is ‘A WAY’. We are currently living in a paradox, so while we are all here, let’s give a paradoxical way a go and see what happens.