Monday, February 16, 2009

the discipline to homeschool

Often times I meet women at the playground and they say they applaud me for homeschooling, that they just don't have the "discipline." Always that specific word, "discipline." I am too shy to tell them I am also lacking in discipline. Too shy to say that when I hear that word it conjures up images of some military boarding school, the farthest thing from my home school.

Three definitions for discipline from the dictionary:
1) training to act in accordance with rules
2) activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training
3) punishment inflicted by way of correction and training

I am afraid that if these moms knew how much fun we were having by learning in a natural way, without pressure or grades, tests or judgement, then they would think I was failing to properly educate my children. I am afraid that all my children's knowledge would be discredited due to the method in which it was received.

"Teaching children" is more about behavior control and inputting of information than playing, exploration, values, human experience and quality of life. Society tells us that educating is and must be painful. This kind of structure is a discipline most of us moms find unpleasant and exhausting. Come to think of it, most of our children's teachers feel the same way. And many children in today's society don't even know how to play, yet another reason to send them to school, where they can be given constant direction.

At home parents fall into the trap of television to ease the bored child who doesn't know how to play or what to do with themselves, only to find the same frustration return when the show is over. It's a vicious cycle. Resa Brown writes about children making the transition to a home school:

"At school they never had to dip into their own resources to find activity and direction. They were well trained. The teacher told them what projects to do and when. Released from this regimen, these children needed a readjustment period. For many that meant boredom (and no T.V. to fill the void). Some recovered quickly, but it took many a full year before they rediscovered what they liked to do."

Perhaps the hardest job of homeschooling really is finding the discipline. The discipline to let go of school concepts about learning. The discipline to help our children find their strengths and passion; patiently. After all, isn't happiness, confidence and fulfillment what every parent hopes their children achieve in life? Resa puts it well: "Without the reward excitement brings, why would anyone bother to discover anything?"

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