Friday, 6 February 2015

Hands Off, Mom: Things I've Learned as a Homeschooling Mom

Sometimes find myself being too "hands on" with my kids. I believe it's a habit left-over from when they were very young.

child doing school

The milestone of children starting public school helps parents to see their kids becoming more independent. With homeschooling, however, there was no "big event" to help me switch gear. I found it difficult to fully realize they were growing up and therefore could (and should) do more things on their own.

This was especially true of Kiddo1's school time. When she was very young, I was beside her all the time, coaching her through every step of her school for the day. It hit me one day that years had passed and I was still doing this.

I could see this was hindering her development. She was so dependent on my coaching, she would struggle with her work as soon as I left the room.

It became blatantly clear to me when one day she decided to read to her Papa. As long as I was looking on she read fine, but as soon as I'd move away she'd start to stumble and could no longer make out the words. In my good intentions I had actually done her a disfavour. I decided this needed to change.

It was hard but I was determined; I knew it was for her own good. I'd been doing things a certain way for so long it had become a habit. It was imperative for me to make the effort to step back and not get immediately involved. I had to allow her the opportunity to figure things out for herself.

Doing school in our open-plan kitchen/dining room proved to be a big help. I started to force myself to do chores around the kitchen thus giving her time and space to complete a task on her own.

Psychologically this worked well for her as I was still technically around, even if not right next to her. If she had questions I was still near enough to provide help or encourage her to help herself by referring to the examples already given in her workbook.

It took a little time but I have seen significant progress and she is now almost fully self-reliant. She has also accepted the responsibility to not become distracted. Before this I was constantly on her case, reminding her to focus.

I now apply this method with Kiddo2 whenever I can, actively looking for things in her school that she can do on her own. I provide her with whatever tools or manipulatives she may need and then stand back and let her work it out for herself.

It's such a pleasure to see the pride and joy in their faces when they bring me their finished work. I love the feeling of accomplishment they experience from knowing that THEY did it!

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