This post is part of a series called “Courageous Jane Homeschools from A-Z.”
For more about this series, click here.
Today we’re talking about the letter “B.”
I know I really should do “B is for Books” since this is a homeschool blog, and as homeschoolers we’re pretty well-known for doing a lot of reading and curriculum buying. In addition, I work with books (in a library, part-time, and it seems to be a reoccurring job choice for me as this is the third library I’ve worked in). On top of that, I, myself, am known for reading a lot (I always have several books going at once and am known to recommend titles often). You’d think “B is for Books” would be the obvious choice, wouldn’t you?
Just because I love this, I’ll show you a picture of my two favorite books …
But “B is for Books” is so … obvious. To be quite honest, I don’t find writing about it to be much fun … and I’m all about fun, you know?
So, let’s try something different. How about “B is for Brian?”
Alright. Fine. There are many readers here who know me in real life and they’ll probably argue that this one is too obvious, too. Brian is my husband, best friend, and the love of my life. (Books are a close second.) Anyone who knows me in real life knows how crazy I am about this man and they’re probably sick of hearing me gush about him. He’s simply fantastic. Just trust me on this. (Or ask anyone who knows him. Most will agree.)
So what does that leave me with?
B is for … boys! From a homeschooler’s perspective, are they easier or harder to raise and educate than girls??
Here’s how I make babies: Girl. Boy. Girl. Boy. I’ve got two of each, in that order, so I think I’m qualified “enough” to speak to this subject. (Well, no, not as well as someone who has raised twelve or thirteen children, but still! I’ve had enough experience for the conclusion I’ve drawn.)
And the conclusion I’ve drawn is … it depends on the girls and boys. I’ve got a couple of girls who have been a breeze to raise, for the most part, but I’ve had to think on my feet more than once when it comes to educating them. The boys, on the other hand, have been a challenge to potty-train and break of “oral habits” (one still isn’t broken at 19 … he chews everything, but mostly his fingernails and the plastic rings from plastic bottles), but they learn so quickly and easily!
Oh wait. Maybe that’s the other way around. The girls have been a challenge to raise … one is a right-brained perfectionist (I say that affectionately) and the other has battled anxieties. But I haven’t had to work very hard at getting them to do their school work. They just do it. But the boys have been so easy to raise because they’ve been the little brothers who just rolled with things, tagging along and entertaining themselves. But one never studied until he got to college (because it all came naturally to him), and the other is a struggling reader who I’ve had to find alternative ways to educate.
No, wait! That’s not right either.
Ok, here’s the truth. Neither girls nor boys are easier to raise or educate. Why would anyone even think they could answer, much less ask, a question like that? Doesn’t everyone know that each child is different, with a unique personality and temperament, and that each brain develops according to its own wiring, input, and God’s design, and on its own timetable?!? I’ll say this much: we homeschooling moms sure know it! And we spend half our lives just trying to figure out who our children are so we can raise and educate them in ways that work for each individual child. Yes, we homeschooling moms are the first to recognize that not all children learn the same way, think the same way, act the same way, or can be predicted to any certain degree. And as soon as we think we have it all figured out, our kids will be the ones to prove us wrong.
Hmph! So much for that “B is for …”
Let’s try again.
B is for … bubble wrap! Oh man, that’s way more fun to think about, isn’t it?
Bubble wrap is such a great tension-tamer, I think it might be wise for me to buy stock in the company that makes it! When things start to get a little crazy and everyone needs a break before someone ends up mopping up spilled feelings, that might be a good time to break out the time-honored mood-lifter and have a little fun.
On the other hand, don’t you sometimes wish you could bubble wrap your kids? I’m afraid some of us come to homeschooling from this wayward wish. We’re afraid of them getting hurt, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually at a brick-and-mortar school, so we choose to homeschool them instead. We mentally bubble wrap them! If this is you (and I’m not saying it is!), it’s an idea you might want to think about. If you recognize yourself as someone who has become so protective of the kids that you’re inhibiting their independence and preventing them from growing into productive adults (the kind someone would want to hire someday, not just because of their high integrity, but also because of their fine work ethic and their ability to work well both independently and as a functioning part of “the team”), then it might be time to remove the bubble wrap. But don’t throw it away! Have some fun with it instead!
Time out for a book recommendation! I just finished reading Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids. Lenore is a witty mother of 2 public-schooled children and a journalist with a long list of credentials. She upholds the idea that children need to be allowed to develop their independence from an early age, within reason, without shirking our parental responsibilities, and without any of us adults ganging up on the others. She is quick to admit her own fears and failings, allowing us all some breathing room so we can inspect our own parenting and come to our own conclusions. She jam packs the book with statistics that usually alleviate our cultural fears (although there were a few that made me go “hmmm), while being compassionate and caring as she points out where those fears originated. Well written, and an easy read. I suggest that this book needs to go on the required reading list for all new parents.
P.S. I’m not paid for promoting this book. I really did like it!
B might be for … bruises. As in bruised feelings. Which is what we often end up with when someone inadvertently or intentionally criticizes homeschoolers or homeschooling.
We have a few choices in how we deal with these bruising situations:
- We can develop thick skin so we don’t bleed. In this case, we’re most likely to forgive the offense and walk away, letting them think what they will. We’re not going to change everyone’s mind, and sometimes we don’t have the emotional strength to do battle, and other times … we just don’t have time! We have lessons to teach and meals to cook and books to read and families to love and and and … we’ll just take the bruise and move on. We know bruises heal in time.
- We can feel the bruise and choose to confront the offender. We can take a defensive stance, and throw our own insults back at them, pointing out how imperfect their lives are in order to take the attention off of ours. In this case, we’ve lost sight of the fact that it’s just a bruise. We could get bruised just bumping into a table, or a doorknob, but we don’t usually crush those items because they hurt us. Should people who bruise us be treated less gently than we would treat an offensive doorknob?!?
- We could always go on the offense! We could head them off at the pass! Let’s make sure everyone knows we homeschool so they won’t accidentally say the wrong thing, and in case that doesn’t work, let’s be sure to criticize public schooling as often as we can.
- If all else fails, we can carry bandages, ice packs, and bubble wrap around with us just in case we get hurt!
B is for … blessed. That’s how I would describe most of our school days, and how I feel many of those days. Then there are the other days. We won’t discuss those here because they don’t start with B. I need to remember more often how blessed I am to have this opportunity. I truly believe God led me to this adventure, and that He had laid the groundwork long before I came to it so I would be successful when I got here. Some countries still won’t allow parents to homeschool their children, so if they do it, they do it secretly, with the fear (or not) of being arrested. It wasn’t even until the year 1993 that every state in the U.S. made homeschooling lawful. How blessed are we today because of the efforts and courage of those who ventured before us?!?
B is for … bored. And I’m not really talking about how our kids tell us they feel about 3,ooo times a day. (Just before we tell them the bathroom needs cleaning and ask if they’ve walked the dog yet.)
I’m talking about how we feel, the homeschooling moms (and there might be some dads reading this, but I don’t think like a dad, so I’m not sure I can speak for them either). I’m not talking everyday! I’m not talking all the time. But who here wants to admit that they are often bored? (My hand is raised.) It takes an infinite amount of patience to listen to a struggling reader every. single. day! And holding up flashcards?!? How boring can you get?? (I don’t actually use many flashcards, despite owning hundreds. Just can’t bring myself to go there most days.) Can you imagine all the things you’d be doing if your kids left on that glorious yellow school bus each day and didn’t come home for at least 8 hours?!? I’m sure you could think of a million things you’d be doing. Here’s the deal … if your kids left the house for 8 hours every weekday, and you weren’t working (for pay, I mean) or volunteering somewhere, you’d probably be bored! Just like being a kid, being a parent isn’t always fun and games. Homeschooling or not, we have to figure out for ourselves how to make our days meaningful and not boring.
~ Courageous Jane