We’re on the heels of a couple of tearful school mornings. It’s not even always the same kid, so it’s hard to blame my methods or the kid for “going through a phase.” Tears are always discouraging and I hate them so much. They’re just such a practical nightmare as well. They seem to come out of nowhere most of the time. One moment, Mushroom or BalletBoy will be cheerfully copying words for spelling or answering a question in math, the next moment, I’ll say something like, “No, wait, let me show you how to do that,” and he’ll break down into a fit. I always give the crier a hug and suggest we change gears or stop and do it later, but there’s usually a long, protracted cry of “No!” Whoever is crying inevitably wants to sit and finish whatever we were working on. It’s hard to teach a half-hysterical kid anything, so that’s usually not possible, which occasionally leads to a full on hysteria. More often, after some futile hugs and reassurances, I have to force the crier to retreat to the other room to calm down on his own. Then I’m left with two kids who are on different pages of their math workbooks. Drat!
On the one hand, days like that make me feel like we should just ditch it all. On the other hand, I don’t think I require that much of the kids. I think we probably do less than half an hour of proper, concentrated “seat work” style schooling on most days. Furthermore, when the kid returns later, they always grok the concept that stymied them in the first place, which makes me feel like it’s primarily a problem of attitude and expectations, not cognitive ability.
There are many things I think are more important than addition or reading. I want my kids to know learning isn’t always easy. I want them to know that it’s important to fail and try again. I want them to be able to listen and learn, as well as intuit and figure out. If we didn’t do formal learning of any kind, I feel like they wouldn’t learn those things.
Deep breath. Let the day begin and be a gentle one.