How Much School Is Too Much? How Much Is Enough?

An email from a reader:

We are in our second year of homeschooling our daughter. She is in kindergarten, so we have not been very formal about it yet. I also have an almost 4 year old and a 9 month old. They all keep me on my toes. I’d like to think our difficulties with homeschooling–being consistent, engaged, keeping good attitudes, etc–can be easily explained by this season of life. But I’m just not sure! I want to be successful and enjoy the time teaching and learning with my children…I really do. 
I have had a difficult time finding a curriculum or curricula that I like and that my daughter likes. It’s been discouraging starting and stopping the few we’ve tried. At the same time, I feel like she is still so young…maybe she doesn’t need a curriculum yet. 
I think my biggest problem is that I feel as though I am doing this alone and I have no direction or guidance. And, of course, part of me feels inadequate and unable to teach my children the way they will need to be taught. 
Currently we are looking into a few different options for next year, two of which include homeschool co-ops of sorts. Like I said, I see the benefits for the future in homeschooling, but it can be so difficult to keep that perspective while going through the day to day. 
Thank you for being kind enough to offer your help and/or encouragement. (Sorry this kind of rambled on!) I look forward to your reply and also reading more on your blog. Have a blessed morning/day!
This is how I answered her:

Oh, A.  I wish we were sitting across from one another at a coffee shop and I could look you in the eye. 

Here’s the first thing I would say:  It is going to be OK.  Really.  Your little girl is TOO YOUNG to be forced to do school right now, unless you can have some workbooks and library books lying around and she picks them up because she wants to be a “big” girl.

The second thing I would say is:  Let her curl up in your lap and just read to her.  The same books, over and over, if she wants you to.  Let her know how special she is to you.  She will NEVER forget that you did this and it will mean the world someday.  She does not need more than that right now. 

Third:  Have you read Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s book, ‘Better Late Than Early’?  If you haven’t, let someone watch the kids while you run to the library to check it out.  You will be encouraged to find that children learn better when they start later with formal seat work, not earlier.

Fourth:  The library is more than adequate to provide you with curricula right now.  But when your daughter wants to read, you might like to try ‘Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons’–but only when she wants to!  I taught all three of my kids to read using this inexpensive resource.  It’s been passed down to my nieces and nephews and is tattered now.

Fifth:  Co-op can be a wonderful encouragement for your child, but the real winner might be you.  I find that co-ops offer some educational benefits to children here and there.  But the biggest beneficiaries are the moms, hands down.  If you can find one that suits you, and one that you can afford, then I’d say it might be worth it.  My kids and I did not join ours until we had been homeschooling for almost 7 years already, but it has been a real blessing for us.

My heart is for people just like you.  I am woefully human.  The Bible calls us ‘jars of clay’ because we are all so ordinary and easily broken.  My homeschool journey doesn’t make sense unless I tell you that it is Jesus who has made all the difference in my impatient, hurried, driven heart.  He is helping me to be kind, loving, patient.  It’s just taking a long time! 

But even with all my imperfections, and please know they are many, I asked my kids the other day if they’d like to go to school.  They looked at me as if I’d said a bad word, though I haven’t spent my time trashing the public school

They said, “Absolutely not!  Never.  No.” 

I said, “But I get angry at you all, and sometimes I want to explode, and so do you.” 

To which they replied, “Yeah but we still pick you.” 

And your kids still pick you.  Your daughter would pick you any day of the week. 

Be encouraged.  You can do this.  I know you can.

Love,

Hannah

For those of you who have a bit more experience on this journey, what can you add to help this mom?  There are many more like her (more every day, if the statistics are correct) and they need encouragement.  Leave your (polite, kind) thoughts in the comments.  I know they’ll be appreciated!
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3 thoughts on “How Much School Is Too Much? How Much Is Enough?

  1. I’ve been homeschooling since my oldest child was 4 and she is now 13. All of my regrets about the way I homeschooled during the early years have to do with pushing too hard, not failing to accomplish enough. I was so afraid that I wasn’t consistent enough, that we didn’t do enough “drill,” or handwriting practice, or whatever. I was twisted up about it. The things I did well were reading copiously, snuggling, napping, talking, and observing the world with my children, and as an older mom, I see that I made the right choices about how we spent our time. But I couldn’t feel confident at the time, and I wish I had enjoyed those years more instead of trying to shame myself into action. You are doing enough. My kids ended up learning all the things I panicked about, but it wasn’t because I was extremely consistent or found the perfect curriculum. They learned because that’s what people do when they aren’t in suffocating environments or allowed to slip into comas of cheap entertainment.

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