Monday, August 15, 2011

Home Education: Mules and Boulders and Self-Doubt

Duncan is so easy to homeschool. It would be really easy to take the credit and say, “Look at me. I am such a good homeschooling mom!” However, I have two older children and know that this is not the case.

My oldest hates confrontation, so he was all about the yes, ma’ams. This didn’t mean that anything that came out of Christian’s mouth correlated with what he actually completed. He is also 2E (mildly gifted, mildly dyslexic). Encoding and decoding, as it related to language, had been dealt with before I brought him home in fifth grade, but imagine my surprise and confusion when I found out that he couldn’t do math- at least not as well as I thought he could based on his grades, standardized test scores, and the little evening homework assistance that I had given him after working all day to pay for the private school.

Christian is a living-a-learning-lifestyle guy and the things he is interested in he knows about deeply. Unfortunately, his interests and the things he needed to have completed for college admission were not always the same. Only when he fully understood that he had to do something did he decide to work through the material. Trust me- he did this for himself and not because I asked him to. While I could revel in his independent reading and research, he was also very frustrating. You can lead a mule to water, but you can’t make him drink until he decides he needs the water.

My middle son, Grayson, can move so slowly you wonder if he is moving at all. As an elementary student, some days he could drag four hours of work into 12+ hours of work. He also doesn’t mind confrontation. He will look at a situation and determine how much going against what is asked will cost him. If he determines that not doing what is asked is worth the punishment, he will simply tell you that he isn’t doing it. You never have to guess or follow up behind Grayson. If he says it is done, then it is done. If he says he isn’t going to do it, go ahead and mete out the punishment, because he isn’t going to do it. Then, the next day try a different angle. Sometimes homeschooling can be like dragging a boulder through mud.

With Duncan I am finally blessed with a child who is easy to homeschool. He may not love schoolwork, but most days he will move quickly through whatever I say needs to be done. He clearly has his sassy, I-think-I-am-a-teenager moments, but, unlike Christian, he can’t keep a straight face and tell me that he has completed something that he hasn’t (although occasionally he will try.) In general, Duncan understands that the faster he completes what I say he needs to do the faster he can get to what he wants to do. Also, he enjoys having his free time without restriction, so he is rarely defiant like Grayson. My primary challenges with Duncan fall in the is-he-being-challenged, am-I-doing-enough, oh-no-am-I-rewarding-schoolwork-with-more-schoolwork, self-doubt category.

I just wanted to share that when I write about Duncan I know how fortunate I am, because I know what it is like to homeschool a mule and a boulder.

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