Who’s in Charge Here? Power Struggles in Homeschool
I believe children want to be obedient. I do not believe children are naturally good by any means. Human beings are deceitful, selfish, and a whole heap of other negative personality traits. But I have noticed in my years of taking care of children they do tend to want to please their parents.
When we were part of a homeschool co-op, there was a period time when we sat the children down. The leading mother asked the children what would be some good rules of conduct. The impact on the children’s behavior was immediate and impressive. They came up with good rules. And they followed them. This was one of the most important lessons I learned by watching other homeschool families.
Everybody loves to be heard, and investing ourselves always makes any activity more worthwhile and valuable to us. Children and adults both share the desire to be heard and respected.
I always expected my children to do their assignments. I didn’t leave them alone without support, but I did always have faith they could figure things out. I gave them plenty of room to do their own projects, to figure out what worked and what didn’t. We needed a lot of tools and a lot of electronics to break. Contraption was one of my kids’ favorite words.
I would ask, “What are you doing?”
And they would say, “We’re making a contraption.”
This was my cue to stay out of the way, trust in them, and give them space.
I am a mom who learned that building forts out of logs and staying up late to read books can be the best use of time. Our days were made up of learning moments more often than textbook study sessions.
I also believe that we are wired to learn, and if we don’t kill the natural curiosity, teaching becomes a whole lot easier. We are part time unschoolers.
I gave my children a tremendous amount of choice and freedom. They had as much input as possible, choosing their own curriculum, within certain guidelines. By around fourth grade, they had a pretty good idea of what worked for them. Some of the time they didn’t have a preference. There were occasions when I did all the planning myself, but this was rare.
It’s important for a person to own their education.
Valuing my students input and allowing them to decide what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to learn it produced responsible young people. One of the saddest things I could ever hear during my childrens’ school years was, “I can’t go play right now mama. I have to do my school.”
You can’t always be as flexible with the requirements and schedule as you would like. But when you can be, why not encourage the spark of imagination?
Many parents think that if you don’t force children to do schoolwork, then they will do nothing all day but play video games. The solution to that problem is to limit access to overindulgences. It sounds simple, but this is one of the toughest challenges you will have, this self-discipline thing. They will copy your behavior. Model what you want them to emulate.
Couple that with finding where their interests lie. Enjoy the journey and the company as you discover your child’s passion together. Who’s in charge? You both are. It’s a team effort.
There are enough obstacles in life. I will not be the one to douse the flame. I will fan the spark.