When Your Child Wants to Go to School…

This post is written to a homeschooling mom who will not send her child to school. Of course, there are some moms who may be open to the idea, and I’ll address that very soon. However, for many of us, regular school is just not an option, short of a death in the family or a severe illness or some other life-changing circumstance.

When one of my daughters was in the sixth or seventh grade, she began making noises about going to “real school.” She complained, whined, and argued. Her attitude about homeschool stunk. She could only see the bad and none of the good.

When she had a hard day, it was all mom’s fault. If she were in “real school” the teacher  would explain it perfectly, and she would be able to understand it the first time. Apparently, “real” teachers simply unscrew the heads of their students and pour the knowledge in their brains. It takes no work for the kids at all.

All of the kids in “real school” were loving and supportive.

“Real School” was sunshine, rainbows, and pink, sparkly unicorns.

Homeschool was synonymous with a dank dungeon, filled with spiders and scorpions.

My Approach

First, I had several honest conversations about why she was so dissatisfied with homeschool and what was appealing about “real school.” I had to watch my own attitude and really listen to her points without taking it personally.

Some of her reasons were simply “grass is greener” syndrome and the naivete that often accompanies inexperience.

However, when I laid down my own defensive attitude, I was able to hear a few key points. In my daughter’s eyes, her problems with homeschool were the following:

  1. Friends. She’s a really social kid.
  2. She hated having to wait on my assistance because I was helping siblings. She wanted to get done with lessons.
  3. Autonomy. My daughter thrives on it.

When I lay aside my feelings about these things, I saw that her concerns were valid. While they may not be as urgent in my eyes, (As an introvert, friends aren’t a deciding factor in my life, I’m a patient person, and I don’t chafe under instruction as my daughter tends to.) the fact that these factors were important to her made them more important to me.

So I had to solve these problems for her

  • For the friends issue, that meant that I had to go above and beyond my comfort zone to help her with social outlets. We joined a homeschool group that has an active social life. We’ve come to a good place in the past few years where we can both live with the level of friend time. It’s more than I prefer but less than she prefers. So it was a good compromise.
  • For her assistance issue, I had to set aside a particular time of the morning when I would stop everything else to help her. I asked for her patience, but I tried to remember that she just really wants to get things done.
  • For autonomy,  had to make her lists, give her guidelines, and allow her to be more independent. I bought computer based math programs, which helped a whole lot. Eventually this has culminated in her doing an online school rather than me teaching her.

Grass is Greener Syndrome

This didn’t cure the grumblies completely. I still had that pesky “grass is greener” syndrome to get over. Eventually I sat down at a time when we were both completely calm and we had the following conversation. It went something like this.

” Sweetheart, I love you and I want the best for you. We’ve talked and talked about how you want to go to school. I’ve explained my side of it. I know you disagree, but that’s where being a good parent comes in. I don’t give you kids everything that you want because sometimes you don’t see the whole picture like a parent does. So you’re going to need to trust me that I I’m homeschooling because it’s what’s best for you and what’s best for the whole family.”

“Your needs and opinions are important in the family, but as a good mom, I have to think about everyone’s needs too and balance that out.  Currently, homeschooling all of you is what is best for our family and for you. Even though you don’t see it. ”

“So, while I understand your wishes, they are just not going to happen for the time being. You are just going to have to accept that. ”

“For our family, it’s God’s will that you be home with us homeschooling. If you think that I am missing God’s will in this area, you just need to pray about it. Spend that time that you are complaining talking to God about it. Every day, I seek God’s will about our family, and it will be up to Him to change my mind about homeschooling. Not you by whining and complaining.”

“From now on, I want you to drop all comments, complaining, and arguing about attending school. I’ve listened to you, and I am trying to integrate the things that you would like to do differently. But the time for you to drop the subject has come. If I hear more about it, there will be consequences. Do not mention it to me or to anyone else. The topic is closed.”

This actually helped things quite a bit. The drama settled down when she knew without a doubt that whining and complaining about homeschool was going to be ineffective, and in fact, was going to get her into trouble.

My paying attention to the factors that bothered her improved our relationship so that she trusted that I cared about things that were important to her.

At this point, I still think she would say that she’d rather be in school. I haven’t asked her recently, because I really don’t want to know. But the drama has subsided significantly.

paper nephew

Photo Credit: Paper Nephew https://www.flickr.com/photos/forcefeed_swede/3546897277by Oz Dean via Flikr


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Rebeca Jones
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 21:06:35

    Well done. It sounds as though you have struck the right balance, which is not an easy feat. Blessings to you!


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