Friday, October 2, 2009

Escaping the Homeschool Matrix

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

each morning.”

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 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

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Lori ~ The Simple Life at Home said...

I loved it, Amy! Even though I'm not homeschooling anymore, I still fall victim to my expectations getting the best of me. This is a good reminder.

Miss you!

Robert Morgan FFA said...

Wow! That was great!! Thanks for sharing that. I think it's good that we all hear that once in awhile. Love ya! :-)

Robert Morgan FFA said...

Sorry, that one was me. I was signed in under the wrong name. Ugh. lol

Mylinda said...

Darn! I did it again!