Let’s look at a following scenario. It’s Monday morning, and, if you are married, your husband has gone off to work. You’re tired and wondering how and why you decided to homeschool. You take a quick inventory and discover rooms in the house bear little resemblance to Maria Montessori’s organized environment for learning. In spite of your family’s diligence to keep everything organized, the young visitors you had this past weekend managed to change all of that.
Your youngest is showing the first signs of the flu and your oldest child wants to take the day off. You look at the week’s flexible schedule and wonder how you will accomplish many of the tasks on the list. What you need is an hour or two for yourself, but you can’t manage that right now.
Fortunately, you are well organized and have the pediatrician’s telephone number right there at your fingertips. You have a good rapport with this doctor, and you feel confident that your youngest child’s problem will be solved. Your mind is in a multitasking mode, as you try to divide part of your mental and physical energies to helping your youngest feel comfortable, while trying to address the concerns of the oldest
Time and again, I have received e-mails from frustrated moms who contemplate just throwing in the towel. They indeed feel totally stressed out. The problems may involve finances, and sometimes just a mix of finances and family problems. However, many of the difficulties stem from lack of communication with one or more of the children being homeschooled. What usually ensues is a power struggle.
Yes, this can happen to any well meaning parent and child who share a loving relationship. Yet, there are different ways to nip this in the bud. For example, if you see that your child becomes obstinate, stop and think about all of the possibilities for his behavior. Admittedly, it is really difficult, at times, to look inward, but we all need to do this from time to time. I am not preaching, but just giving some advice from my personal experience.
Take time to stop and reflect on your feelings. What is truly making you upset? What can you do to diffuse the problem(s)?
Now, stop and analyze your child’s behavior. Is he or she balking maybe because of a feeling of inferiority? Perhaps, too, your child is just not ready to do ‘the work’ because he really doesn’t understand the foundation.
This past November I was reminded of how children can show us in many nonverbal ways how uncomfortable they are feeling about a learning situation. I can’t go into much detail, because of confidentiality, but I was asked to help a child who was about to make a major move out of state. She had been through some traumatic times during the past two years, so I decided to volunteer to help her through this transition.
During the first two tutoring sessions, this young girl treated me in a very stiff and formal manner. On the third session, she began to relax and started opening up. She shared with me how anxious she was feeling about the move.
One evening, in particular, I noticed that she appeared to be very tired and worried. As I recall, the lesson was about animal extinction. She had been reading aloud, but then stopped and looked down.
Some tears welled in her eyes, and she struggled to regain her composure. She had been thoughtfully gazing at her book, but then looked at me and was met with an understanding smile. After all, we have all had turning points in our lives. We briefly discussed our faith in God and how He helps us through these difficult periods in life.
We chatted for quite awhile about animals, and, then spent time discussing what she had been learning at school and made comparisons with some of the facts in the book she was reading. As she talked, her face became more and more animated, and she once again became energized. I then gave her the option of either continuing to read or review her school homework. I could see that she liked the fact that she had some control and that I trusted her decision.
Timing, sometimes, can be everything. Knowing when to lead and when to observe takes time to master. It’s important not to be too critical. Make suggestions along the way – never all at once. This very intelligent 11 year old girl who had never had a proper phonics foundation and used her finger to underline each word she read aloud, began to open up to my suggestions. Why and how did this happen? She began to see me as someone she could trust, and she realized that I wasn’t trying to control her learning progression.
These skills of tuning in to a child’s needs are something that we acquire over a period of time. We all can miss the mark as well; sometimes, other factors just get in the way. That’s why it is so important to stop and reassess the learning situation.
Are you spending too much time on a subject that your child just can’t tackle right now? Just look at the factors that can block what Maria Montessori caused ‘spontaneous explosions’. Lack of interest, mental readiness and developmental readiness are just some of the causes. If you feel that the issue might be coming from a lack of readiness, redirect the focus to something that interests your child. Plan also to introduce creative interdisciplinary lessons to spark interest and understanding in all subjects. If your child is very young, allow him to select ‘his work’ from the Montessori materials that have thus far been introduced.
If you feel really stressed out and just need some time for yourself, direct your child to do some independent research on a topic that interests him. Let him make the selection. Don’t try to reason or engage in diaolgue when you are feeling angry or simply stressed out.
Take some time out for YOU. Remember to eat nutritiously and grab moments of each day for rest and relaxation.
Once your mind is relaxed you can focus on cleaning up the mess made by those little visitors who know nothing about Montessori’s prepared environment.
When you are feeling refreshed and relaxed, visit http://www.amonco.org You will find some interesting free lesson plans and other wonderful resources for school and homeschool classrooms.
Have a great week! 🙂