Sunday, March 3, 2019

Homeschool's not all rainbows and unicorns

Most of my posts about homeschooling have been overwhelmingly positive. That's because, in general, I'm incredibly positive about it. When I see the changes wrought in my eldest daughter over the past year, I'm blown away. She's so much more confident and self-assured than when we pulled her out of school towards the end of 2017 due to anxiety.

However, we've had a rough start to this homeschool year, so I thought I'd share a bit about that to give you a counterbalance to all the happy stories I've shared.

Nothing in this life is perfect. Even homeschooling. Everywhere we go, there we are, fallen humans making mistakes.

Our family started its 'official' school year on February 11, after a blissful two-month holiday.

Unfortunately, I came down with a cold on February 12. It both sapped my energy and made it so I woke up dozens of times a night, not getting the rest I desperately needed.

The cold left me with no energy to deal with anything. But I had to deal anyway.

It was our first week back and all our groups and music lessons had started back up right alongside us. I didn't want the kids to miss out on them.

Also, the first Friday back, we were to set off on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Tiritiri Matangi, and I couldn't just not go, so I pushed through. But I somehow managed to get heat-stroke on the trip, which made me a complete write-off for the weekend afterwards and delayed my recovery time even longer.

Queue the song, Faded. That was me.

The thing is.... kids know when you're not really present. They have a sixth sense for it.

Suddenly fights over ridiculous things escalated at the drop of a hat. Everything was a drama. Simple schoolwork tasks like writing the letter 'P' in a handwriting book precipitated tears and fits of rage over how impossible it is to write the letter 'P.' (True story. That's 45 minutes of my life I'll never get back.)

No one was getting much work done because even the most basic tasks took way longer than I'd expected them to, due to meltdowns.

I was spending what little energy I had trying to calm the wailing one - whichever one that happened to be at the time. Meanwhile, my eldest was quietly plodding on with her work and reading books in her downtime, saving my sanity even as I felt guilty that she wasn't getting the one-on-one attention her good behaviour deserved.

It was all around hard, and I asked myself more than once why we were doing this. Why we were homeschooling.

All my kids could be off at school. I could have my days completely to myself (bliss for my inner introvert). The house could be tidy. Our meals could be organised. Somebody else (much more qualified than I) could be dealing with all the learning meltdowns and dramas. And I could rest when I was sick.

Life would be so much easier. (For me at least.)

But my eldest is happier out of school. Whenever we visit her old school now, she points out the corner she used to cry in during lunchtime. There pangs my heart.

I could send the youngest two to school, since they are the causes of 98% of the drama. But then the oldest would be by herself a lot, and we'd be back in the halfway land we were in before, on the school timetable and needing to be back for school pickups; missing out on the freedom that homeschooling brings.
Photo taken by my daughter of her violin.
And then, when I really think about the fortnight of misery we had, I realise that, even though I didn't get as much done with the kids as I would've liked, the stuff we did do was worthwhile. And we did it together.

Paul and I were able to look at where things were going wrong and think of strategies to teach the kids to help them deal with their crazy big emotions. Those strategies have started to make a difference and now I'm looking towards the coming weeks with more hope.

And we still had a lot of really great times, even amongst all the tantrums and tiredness...
  • We went swimming at the local aquatic centre a couple of times. 
  • We got cute new chickens
  • We caught a ferry to a really great island. 
  • We had a playdate with lovely friends. 
  • We went to church. 
  • We spent weekends with cousins. 
  • We did athletics. 
  • We went to many great classes at our homeschool group.
  • We did music lessons. 
  • We learnt about volcanoes with fun science experiments. 
  • J nailed two new maths concepts (adding plus eight and plus nine). 
  • We went to the library where the girls learned how to order books on the computers there, so now they're reading even more books than normal. 
  • We started a new audiobook (The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis) for when we're driving around in the car. 
  • The two younger kids built a hut in the backyard. 
  • We rustled potatoes from our garden for dinner.
  • Paul and all three kids played Starlink in the evenings so I could rest. 
  • My eldest daughter started taking photos of everything for her new photography class. 
  • My middle daughter baked a cake all by herself and fed it to her siblings for afternoon tea so I could rest.
  • That same daughter then pretty much moved in next door, where they've just installed a gymnastics bar. 
  • The kids embraced their new chore responsibilities. (I've even added a couple more incentives with their new chores, which are really helping to motivate the older two at least.)
  • The children all sent letters and parcels to their dear friends, who have moved away.
  • And many more good things besides.
So homeschooling can be hard sometimes, but I still reckon it's worth it.


  1. Yes, yes! The days when it all goes to custard! I laughed out loud at the letter P story. Loving your posts, thanks for being real Emma. I think you do amazing stuff with your kiddies!

  2. Thanks Aimee. I was amazed by how much you get done with your kids in a day. I don't know how you do it. Must be your mad teacher skillz.


Thank you for visiting Craving Fresh, and for taking the time to comment. Your feedback is so important to me.