The Most Valuable Lesson
I would love to say that the first official day of our homeschool year started off peacefully, but that would be a big fat lie. I did everything right; we discussed a routine, prepared our environment, and set expectations for the week. And yet, when Monday rolled around and I reminded my son that it was time to practice writing (his biggest challenge), I was met with all kinds of resistance.
I expected his push-back. And he expected me to respond as I do most of the time: with empathy, trust, and clear boundaries. But that day, the perfect storm of hormones, fear, and ego were brewing in my head, and I snapped.
Loud, manipulative, and angry words were exchanged, and my son stormed out of the room and slammed the door. Which, of course, triggered me even more!
I followed him downstairs and told him his work was on the table. He rolled his eyes and said "Whatever." And that's when my head went...
He noticed how angry I was and quietly sat down in front of his work. I then gave him a loud and furious speech about privilege and responsibility. He listened dejectedly, then looked down and started writing. As I sat watching him, I began to breathe more deeply. And as my breath slowed down, so did my thoughts. And then a dark and heavy wave of guilt washed over me.
I put my hands over my eyes and continued to breathe, trying to find the right words. When I uncovered my face and opened my eyes, my son was looking at me. I took a deep breath.
"I really didn't like how angry I got and how I yelled at you," I said. His eyes opened wide and he sat up, as if surprised.
"I really didn't like how rude I was to you!" he admitted. The words tumbled out of him, the guilt too big and overwhelming to contain in his little body.
And that's when it hit me: that day's homeschool lesson wouldn't be about writing, science, or math. It would be about imperfection, personal accountability, and grace. And the lesson would be as much for me as it was for him.
I tapped into the origin of my reaction, and told him: "When I see you avoiding challenges, I feel scared. The story I tell myself is that you're going to go through life not trying your hardest. But I know this story isn't true, since I've seen you tackle many hard things in other areas of your life." He nodded.
"We had a great routine last year," I continued. "What was working well and what would help you get back into a good rhythm this year?"
He thought for a second. "How about if we keep my audiobooks turned off until I finish my practice, so I don't feel like staying in my room listening to them and playing legos?"
I smiled. "We can do that, it did work well before. Thank you for reminding me."
One page of writing practice was all he did that day. And yet, the next day, without prompting, he worked through five pages (more than he had ever done before), and proudly showed me what he accomplished.
And so, dear reader, if you're a loving and imperfect parent embarking on a homeschooling journey with an independent and equally imperfect child, please know that there will be hard days. The most valuable homeschool lessons won't involve addition or grammar; they'll be about compassion, forgiveness, and trust. You will get triggered, and you will flail. But if you remember to ground yourself in humility, you will never fail.
Homeschooling has its challenges. But you don't have to navigate them alone. Join me and other like-minded parents in The Montessori Homeschool Hub, an exclusive membership community where you'll find the tools, support, and encouragement you need to succeed through the ups and downs of homeschooling.
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