More Lessons from the Homeschool Table

Momma told me there would be days like this….

Actually, today began really well. I slept in because I had a bad night, thank you to restless legs. I came down to be greeted by a cheerful Nate who asked how I had slept, then showed me that he had already completed a fair bit of his work for the day. I have a calendar on the wall with all the work listed out for the week. The kids are able to see what they have to do on their own and check it off as they go, then see what we will be doing together. The system has worked well, and especially today when he got to work before I even got up!

Somehow, between that point four hours ago and now things have gone downhill.

I feel like I’m repeating myself, and I have a feeling a lot of days will be like this, but I am slightly stunned by how the day can turn so quickly. I have one moping and hanging his head. One on the couch who suddenly doesn’t feel well. And one little man who is cheerfully working on his math problems on the ipad.

Here is what struck me today, though….home school is at its very root different than regular school because there is this link between the teacher and the student that is inherently different.

There is emotion and history and relationship that is different.  There is also love and care and all the button-pushing and the things that set us off.

There is not the objectivity and separation that a “regular” teacher has with the kids. When the teacher at school loses their temper (and we all do) and hollers at the kids or comes down on them, there is the break of a night away and a fresh start in the morning.

There is not that break for the homeschooler, and there is not the space when dad comes home to talk at the table about how frustrated they were that day at school…because the teacher is sitting right there.

The fact is that I am going to frustrate the boys and they are going to frustrate me. Today I was the one who ended up in tears because I felt inept in trying to get them all to pay attention and to stay on task and to get something from what we were doing. We took a break…they rode scooters for a bit (although only Sammy actually did the whole two laps I asked for), and we tried coming at it differently, but it just didn’t work.

There is, I think, in all of us a fear of being inadequate to the task that is before us. That fear can be brought out by our kids more than any other person. When the task is not only parenting but teaching and educating, there are lines I am not sure how I blend and which ones to cross or others that need to be made bold and clear. I am not sure how to make it clear always that it is the teacher-mom and not just the parenting-mom at the moment.

This doesn’t mean that we are failing. It means that we are interacting and there is always friction when we interact….sometimes the friction is good and healthy, and sometimes it hurts a bit.

The lessons we are learning in homeschool are far more than just the knowledge, and I knew that would be true. We are learning that you don’t give up.  Now, I know this is true in regular school as well…but this is a little different.

The teacher is mom and the students are my children. I am invested in them in so many ways; my hopes and expectations for them are far more nuanced than a regular teacher. And I will have them every year, not just for one year.  That means that when we frustrate one another or when we make the other cry….we have to find a way to resolve the issue and to move forward and do better. We have to learn to communicate better and to respect each other. Those are lessons that will take us to much richer places as a family whole.  So, even on the not-so-fun days, I’m finding that this homeschool adventure is precisely where God wants me to be for the moment.


2 thoughts on “More Lessons from the Homeschool Table

  1. Mary Jean Murphy says:

    God bless you, Sarah, and give you the grace you need to plow on! I had so many days during our 10 years of homeschooling where I thought, “If only a school bus from ANY school would come by my house, I would put them all on it!” Of course, if a school bus had come by, I would have sent it on its way because I wanted them just where they were. And as I have already told you, you will never regret the hours and hours you spend giving yourself to your children. My only regrets are that I didn’t always give them all that I might have – selfishness has a big hold on me! Just do the best that you can today, and don’t worry about the tomorrows. They will all turn into todays and then you can deal with each one as it arrives! ENJOY THIS DAY WITH YOUR PRECIOUS ONES! I will be praying for you.


    • sarahkwolfe says:

      Thank you so much, Mary Jean!!! It is funny how next day looks so different. Nate stayed up until midnight last night working on his school work in bed, so we started ahead of the game today. We have two things left and then we are done for the week!!! I think sometimes the bad days set us up for truly good ones, especially as we learn how to work through these things.

      But, yep…I have to admit there are days when they head to the tutorial where I know we all need a breather!


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