by Kathy Kuhl
Since most families have recently restarted their homeschools this time of year, now is a good time to consider our attitudes. The start of an academic year usually cheers me up: new books, new tools, a new start.
But some kids don’t feel that way. They dread the start of studies. They need hope.
Some of us don’t feel excited about more teaching, either.
Here are some suggestions:
Identify Worries and Fears
- If you feel a growing dread, a fear you can’t homeschool “this kid,” set aside some time to come to terms with those fears. If your child seems fearful, look for a good time to talk with them. A hike, a long drive, or after they are ready to bed can be times kids open up.
- If you’re the anxious one, make some notes. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” It could be something scary: that my son will never learn to read, that my daughter will never learn to speak appropriately because of her autism, that my child’s impulsivity will do him in. Maybe it’s something less serious but still alarming: that I’ll say things I regret to my child again. That we’ll spend another year without mastering the times tables.
- If your child’s the one dreading schoolwork, listen carefully. I’ll blog soon on active listening.
- Sometimes our fears blossom because we are too busy. Sometimes we keep too busy to avoid our fears. Multitasking can keep us from facing what we’re dreading. Are you running in circles rather than facing a fear? (Sounds crazy, but it’s a kind of procrastination I’ve tried. It doesn’t work.) Whatever those fears are, sit down and spell them out.
Assess & Address
- Once you know what you’re afraid of, ask yourself if these are reasonable fears. Talk your child’s fears over with them, too. Dr. John Gottman’s book, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child (see below), provides excellent help for this.
- If your fears are not rational, find simple things you can do to help yourself relax. For example:
- Exercise, even taking a short walk
- A few minutes gardening
- A cup of tea and ten minutes of reading in the afternoon. (Kids aren’t the only ones who need recess!)
- If your or your child’s fears are reasonable, take time to investigate who and what can help you. For example:
- This website has dozens of books and websites to help you.
- A special education consultant can help.
- A friend can help, simply by coming over for an hour and letting you take a walk, buy groceries, or exercise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
I’ve blogged about raising children to be aware of their emotions, to name them and deal constructively with them. Parents should practice this, too. We want to be good examples for our kids. But we also want to be effective parents. Having a nagging fear that we don’t want to face won’t help us teach better.
- Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by Dr. John Gottman
- I’ve blogged previously about dealing with fear, feeling you’re in over your head.
What do you do when you are worried about your homeschooling? Leave a suggestion in the comments below, please.