Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 Essentials of Homeschool: Old Dog. New Trick

This week I am going to talk to you about the 5 Essentials of Homeschooling. Instead of writing about my favorite brand of #2 pencil and math curriculum, I want to talk to you about what I consider to be truly Heart issues. Of course, these issues are what I have found to be true in my own experience. They might be different for you. My topics for the week are Discipline (the self kind, not the a timeout…though you might need one), Flexibility (and if you can put your leg over your head I don’t want to hear about it), Creativity (you might be able to borrow someone else’s), Teachability (believe it or not…you’re not done learning)  and Grace (I need it daily!). My apologies to those who really wanted to know my thoughts on dry erase boards (I like them) and co-ops (I am slightly afraid of them). Happy Reading!

Have you ever heard of FAPE? It stands for Free Appropriate Public Education.  In 1975, the educational right for children of disabilities was guaranteed. It is called the Rehabilitation Act of 1975. I am not going to discuss all of the history behind this Act; only that it obviously had a profound impact on America’s disability population. 

I am not going to get into the benefits or failings of today’s system…I do believe it has failed some, but I can’t be critical of some of the hardworking and diligent special ed teachers and paras I have known. They are a special breed. What this particular bit of legislation does tell me, however, is that no matter what the child’s capacity he or she can learn. It is up to me (as a teacher) to find out how.
I am going to drop a bombshell on you. 

I am the type of individual that only likes to do things I’m good at. If something doesn’t come easily to me, I really don’t want to bother with it. 

Just being honest. 

Isn’t it ironic that there has been so much in my life that has required me to dig in deep and TRY to do the hard things?  My very life has depended on it
Am I Teachable? Sure. I like to Teach. But. Am I Teachable?

Can you imagine what sort of interesting things I have set aside because I want to be an instant aficionado? I can crochet…but just a little. I can knit…but just a little (I prefer a loom). I can play the piano…but just a little.

I am glad my son doesn’t share my condition. When he was younger we decided  to put Josiah in swim lessons. He was 8 and still clinging to the stairs at the pool. He loved the lessons. One of his swim teacher’s compared Josiah to Dug in the movie, “Up.” Remember the one? “Squirrel!”
She got that one right.

Month after month Josiah plodded (or paddled) along in his lessons. Everything was peachy until he started working on his backstroke in the deep end of the pool. He suddenly had visions of JAWS swimming menacingly in the depths of the 9ft. pool. Keep in mind that he had never seen the movies, but a sandwich shop we frequented had an old JAWS movie poster hanging on the wall. Josiah was convinced (despite all scientific reasoning) that JAWS might possibly reside in the warm, chlorinated waters of an Ozarks YMCA pool. 

He would start at the shallow end of the pool on his back; his arms sweeping back in a graceful, circular motion. When he reached the middle of the pool, he would suddenly turn around and peer down under the water before proceeding on. It became quite an event.

Even the sweet lifeguards got into the act... going so far as to promise to keep a diligent “shark watch.”

I finally had enough. I pulled out my best trick.

It’s called “The Bribe.” I have such success with “The Bribe” that I considered using it as one of my 5 Essentials of Homeschooling. You may call me a bad parent. I call myself a smart parent. The Bribe worked for me while potty-training. It could work here. I told Josiah that if he completed his backstroke across the entire length of the pool during lessons for a whole week I would take him to his favorite video game store. He then would be allowed to purchase a game for his Playstation2 as long as it was under $10. You notice I didn’t offer to purchase a new game for his Wii. I am a smart parent, after all. 

Do you know what? He did it. But this is not the post to educate you in the importance of The Bribe. I am proud of Josiah because over the past several years he has practiced, trained, and worked hard. He is an excellent swimmer and part of a swim team. He pushed past (with a little help from Momma) his fears. Competitive Swimming is not a sport that can be mastered overnight. 

Isn’t this what we are teaching our kids? We are teaching them how to push past difficulties. How to work hard. How to really try. How to be taught and take instruction. How to Learn. 

I need this in my own life.

When confronted with a challenge, I need to push through. I can't stamp my size 7 in rebellion if God is trying to work on me.  I need to listen. I need to Learn. 

Homeschooling is not about knowing everything about education. My 125 hours of education courses in college gave me some good tools, but everything I know about educating my son I have had to learn the hard way. I’m still learning it. I have to know my limits. I have to be to take correction. I have to know when to change it up and when to stay consistent. I have to be willing to take chances. For Josiah’s sake. Your success as a homeschool parent has little to do with what degree you hang on your wall. College prepared me little for the challenges I face as a homeschool parent. 

Teachability really has nothing to do with how well you are able to learn or comprehend. It has more to do with attitude.

It can be sometimes hard for this old dog. But. It is always an adventure!

If you missed my previous posts in this series I invite you to go check them out. They are:

I am part of a Blog Hop this week featuring my friends from The Schoolhouse Review Crew. You can get connected to some of their fabulous posts below or click on the banner for even more. 

Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Heather @ Thrift Schooling
Joanie @ Simple Living Mama
Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos
Amy @ Homeschool Encouragement
Monique @ Living Life and Learning
Jenn @ Fresh Start Academy
Lori @ Special Connection Homeschool

 5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials 

Tomorrow is my last post for this series. I will speaking to of Grace.


  1. This is a good reminder. I think I am a lot like you in that I want instant success and don't want to work all that hard at the things I start.... another area in my life I should attempt to grow!

    1. This has been such a hard lesson for me. I'm glad God's patient with me!


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