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When Homeschooling Doesn’t Go The Way I Planned

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The first three years of homeschooling was easy, I’ve got to admit, compared to today but, not without hurdles. Kindergarten is all about discovering the world and really jumping into the basic skills. Reading and writing become a reality that open doors of understanding and, opened my eyes. What happens if my son is not meeting my expectations for reading? What if we get off course and fall behind and things go wrong?

The reading curriculum we checked-out didn’t appeal to my son, Jay. A friend recommended the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons which turned out to be a better fit. Jay and I were going along through the book at a pretty good pace and he was slowly understanding how read.

With two months left to our school year, I panicked. We had more pages than school days. We just had to finish the school year all tidy and with all lessons learned. I doubled up on the reading lessons. I pushed and he pushed back. Overwhelmed was a common emotion for Jay and me and it would creep up sooner everyday.

A few weeks into cracking the double reading lesson whip his teacher at the Option program pulled me aside and said she noticed that Jay had started stuttering. Her opinion was that it wasn’t anything serious at this point but something that she wanted to make sure I was aware so that together we could manage it if necessary. This new speech pattern hadn’t gone unnoticed however, I hadn’t acknowledged it.

The rest of that school week at home, cramming the Must. Finish. All. Books. regime, I realized Jay would stutter toward the middle or end of the sprint through our daily work. DING! Good grief. Could this run to my imagined finish line be the cause? Was I pressuring my six-year-old to finish when he wasn’t ready? Heavy sigh. It was my fault.

The next school week I began by sharing with his teacher my enlightenment. She agreed that it could very well be that I over-reacted and smothered and pushed and had been making us both crazy to his speech development detriment.

I backed off. Jay and I worked on one lesson a day the rest of that week. Surprise! By the end of the week there was a slight decrease in his stuttering. The week after, I even skipped a day of reading lessons and his stutter stepped a little further back.

Confirmed. I was the worst kind of mother, blinded by speeding through to the last page without seeing the effect on my child. Lock me up. I am unworthy of this role.

Are mothers really made to be so hard on ourselves? Oh the responsibilities of seeing that a person is born and raised and turns out right, to be a compassionate, thoughtful person who can read and write and add and subtract and point to any state or country on a map. At our children’s birth we’re given a towel to start wiping and a guilty complex. If I didn’t love them so much, I guess, I wouldn’t be so hard on myself.

By the end of the school year and a more normal month of school lessons the stutter was nearly gone. It would creep up when he was tired, even in situations unrelated to schoolwork. But we didn’t finish the reading lessons. I thought, we’ll do a lesson or two each week during summer so he’s ready for First Grade.

Summer was spent at the park for play dates and walking through our favorite gardens. My husband and I would read to the children every night at bedtime, as we have since Jay was 6 months old or so. Not one school lesson was completed or honestly even considered.

The middle of summer, he was asking to read a sentence of the story, then he would ask to read the page. August sneaked up on us again and there he was picking up books on his own and reading out loud or to himself.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson November 10, 2011

    Lesson learned: let them go at their own pace without over-pushing. I’m learning that with my kids, too. My 7-yr-old is barely reading at grade level while my kindergartener is nipping at her heels with his reading prowess. I started trying to push her even more but that was only counter-intuitive and made her hate reading. When I backed off, she finally started showing interest.

    Funny how those kids are. Guess we’re not in control after all. :)

  • comment avatar Lisa - Laughing Yoga Mama November 10, 2011

    Heather, thanks for your courage in sharing this story. It isn’t easy to admit when we are pushing too hard, but such a gift for ourselves and our kids when we can.
    You are certainly not the “worst kind of mother,” you are the BEST KIND who does everything she can for her children, makes mistakes, recognizes them, and then makes a change.
    Congratulations on your growth as a mom!
    In my opinion, this whole crazy journey is all about letting go. Breathe in, breathe out, let go…

  • comment avatar Cathy Lewis November 10, 2011


  • comment avatar Cathy Lewis November 10, 2011

    I want to let you know how much your Mile High Momas inspired me today. Ben and I are behind in school and I have really been pushing, it’s so not working. Funny how it takes someone else’s experience for me to see what’s going on. Thank you for your insight.

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