Hello there family and friends,
I came across this article today and boy this was written for me. Its crazy how I can feel like my kids are behind, house always a mess and I feel like throughing in the towel after just 6 weeks of school. This article gave me the encouragement I needed to hear and I'm excited to plan everything out for next week. Why do I let me expectaions get the best of me?
Enjoy the read.
Escaping the Homeschool Matrix
By Steve Walden
The room was brightly lit and cold. She was sitting at a table,
across from an empty chair. She knew the questioning would begin any
minute. The door opened and a man bearing a remarkable resemblance to
Hugo Weaving walked in and sat down in the empty chair.
“Mrs. Anderson,” he began, “we’ve been monitoring your
homeschool. Apparently, you have been living two lives. In one life,
you’re Katherine A. Anderson, homeschooling mother and wife in a
respectable community. You have a homeschool curriculum. You have a
schoolroom. You volunteer . . . to help out with your homeschool
support group. The other life, Mrs. Anderson, is lived in your
pajamas. Your kids are unable to complete their assignments, and if
you can get them bathed and dressed before your husband returns from
work, you consider it a good day. One of these lives has a future,
Mrs. Anderson. The other does not.”
She just stared across the table at this man. “Who was he?” she
wondered. Why was he accusing her of these things?
The man opened up a folder and began leafing through it. “As you can
see, we’ve had our eyes on you for some time, Mrs. Anderson. I think
that you should look long and hard at how you are failing in your
role.” He pulled out a single sheet of paper. “Your son is 6 years
old and yet he cannot read. Your 11-year-old daughter spends half her
time daydreaming and staring off into space. She hasn’t scored
better than a D on her spelling quizzes all year. Your teen,
this . . . Melissa, I believe her name is . . . she hasn’t prepared
for the SAT test. If you really loved your children, Mrs. Anderson,
you would have your children at their desks and hard at work by 7:30
Tears started to well up in Katherine’s eyes. Was she really that
bad at homeschooling?
“As far as your curriculum goes, you’ve switched back and forth
from A Beka to Saxon to Bob Jones and back to Saxon again in just two
semesters. I have to wonder, Mrs. Anderson, if you are teaching them
correctly. How can you jump from curriculum to curriculum without
causing your children to become hopeless, blathering idiots?”
Mrs. Anderson made no effort to wipe away the tears that were now
flowing down her cheeks. She knew all these accusations were true.
There was nothing she could say to refute them.
“Tell me, Mrs. Anderson. What’s it like, living in your pajamas?
Do you enjoy being a slob?” His words began to cut deep, and
somewhere deep inside her soul, a wave began to form.
“How many times did you yell at your kids yesterday, Mrs. Anderson?
Can you really say you love them if you treat them this way?”
The wave began to build, quickly becoming a surge. Mrs. Anderson’s
anger was rising above and beyond the shame and fears this man was
“Your best friend, Laurie, doesn't have any trouble getting her six
children ready to go to eight different activities each week, yet you
always manage to run late . . .”
“That’s enough!” Her waves of anger burst over the dam and began
to pour from her lips. “I don't have to listen to these accusations.
I am a loving wife and mother, and I care deeply about my children.
We may not get to every activity on time or complete every
assignment, but we are trying. My children are well fed and clothed,
and they are learning so much more than they would learn anywhere
else. My son is a gifted engineer. He dismantled three phones last
week to understand how the buttons work . . .”
“You consider that school?”
“Absolutely! He is learning mechanics and science. If I can get him
to put things back together so that I can answer the phone, I’ll be
all set. By the way, Melissa doesn’t need to study for her SAT test
right now. She’s 14! We will prepare for it when the time is right.
“Another thing. My daughter may not always study with perfect
concentration, but she draws the most beautiful pictures. She
understands forms and shapes so much better than her brothers or
sisters do. She is a very bright girl, no matter what your files say.”
These bold statements took the man aback. Mrs. Anderson’s outburst,
though somewhat controlled, was clearly not what he had expected to
hear in response to his accusations.
“You say I yell at my kids, and that’s true. I do lose my temper
when I clean a room and come back in thirty minutes to find it in
worse shape than it was before I cleaned it. But your files don’t
show the breakfast we had yesterday when we sat around and talked
about three things we like about each other. I enjoy my children so
much more than you could imagine. And we truly love each other.
“I stay in my pajamas some days, that’s true. But we are at home
and like to be comfortable while we do our work. Learning is more
important than appearances.”
“But are your children really learning, Mrs. Anderson? I show that
you have lost ground every time you’ve tried to set a schedule. How
effective are you if you can't even maintain a schedule?”
“We may struggle sometimes. I admit, we don’t hit the mark with
schedules, but we do a good job setting goals. We know what direction
we’re going, and we do a good job, even if we don’t end up
completing our workbooks. If anything is out of line, it’s my own
expectations.” An idea began to form in her mind.
“What? We are not to blame, Mrs. Anderson!”
“Of course,” she thought, “it all makes sense now.”
Katherine looked straight into her accuser’s eyes as she spoke
calmly and deliberately. “I know who you are! You’re my own
expectations. You’ve been trying to trap me.”
“Nonsense. We don’t need to trap what we already own.”
“You don’t? Then you would have no problem if I made pajamas the
standard school uniform?”
“Uh . . .” Suddenly, the man became quite anxious.
“And you wouldn’t mind my going to thrift stores to buy more
phones and other things for my son to dismantle?”
“Wait . . . this isn't what we wanted. Stop!”
“Why? Don’t you want to hear about how we’re going to stop going
to so many activities and start spending more time together as a
family? I've got some great ideas, including a bug collecting
expedition and a board game night.”
“Board games don’t constitute an education! They . . .”
“Oh, yes they do. Colors, numbers, counting, reading, and strategy
all work together to educate my children. And the best part is that
they don’t even realize it’s school.”
The man was becoming transparent, and he was quickly fading from
view. “But what about your curriculum? You can’t change in the
middle of the year! It’s . . . ”
“I can change our curriculum whenever I think we need to. If
something isn’t working, we can try something else. That’s one
benefit of running your own school. I would rather find something
that works than have my children suffer through an entire year of
work that doesn’t meet their needs.”
She could see that the man was livid and shouting angrily, but now,
along with his appearance, his voice had faded. He was almost gone
from view when she said, “Oh, by the way, school starts at 10 a.m.
from now on.”
With that, he disappeared.
Mrs. Anderson was about to scoot away from the table when she awoke
with a start. Rolling across the screen on the television in front of
her were credits for a fantasy film about people fighting the forces
of artificial intelligence. She quickly pushed the “off” button
and headed upstairs to bed. After all, she had a bug hunt to plan
Steve Walden lives in Colorado with his wife, and together they
homeschool their three children (ages 12, 9, and 5). Steve is a
freelance writer and editor. When he’s not blogging at
www.HomeschoolBlogg er.com/SteveWald en, he’s searching for new
opportunities to write about a variety of topics, including
homeschooling, coping with disabilities, and connecting with God.
Steve’s desire is to help others rediscover God as their first love
and the source of their strength.
Copyright 2006. Used with permission. Originally published in the
Summer 2006 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. www.TheHomeschoolMa gazine.com
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