Homeschooling Blues…Failure is Not An Option

by | Nov 7, 2020 | Family Life, Parenting, Spirituality

Leo:  “Mom, I’m done with Math!”

Me:  “Leo, that’s great!  Where is it so I can correct it to see how you did?”

Leo:  “I ripped it into a bunch of pieces and threw it in the garbage!”  (Followed by a hearty and mischievous laugh!)

Just when I thought things in our homeschool world were falling into place; a curve ball is thrown at me.  I, of course, asked Leo why he would throw his math in the garbage.  As I continued to talk he became more and more agitated. I realized we needed to move away from math and begin a new subject.  I pulled out phonics, explained his assignment, and he began to work on it independently.  He brought it back to me and we looked at it together.  He had one minor error and as I was explaining why it was not quite right, he screamed, with tears rolling down his face, “I am stupid, and I never do anything right!”  He bolted away from me, ran upstairs, still crying, as I sat in my chair trying to understand what in the world had just happened!  My heart broke for him, but I knew whatever he was feeling was not brought on by me explaining phonics to him.

I gave him a few moments and went up to his bedroom to have a talk with him.  I wanted to understand why he was feeling the way he was.  Leo has struggled with self confidence in his life, but I never want to add to his confidence issues.  My goal is to always build him up and to let him know that I am his biggest fan!  When we started talking, I quickly came to find that his emotions had nothing to do with math or what I had said before the tears started flowing.  I wondered if his math had frustrated and overwhelmed him in a way that made him feel inadequate.  His math was going great, he said.  He understood what he was doing and had done half of the problems he was asked to do before he ripped up the paper.  I asked, “Then what made you rip the paper up and why did you call yourself stupid?”

Then the story came out…He and his sister were doing their schoolwork together and his sister has stolen his most prized pen!  The pen is erasable and so I allow him to use it on schoolwork ?  He had asked his sister to give his pen back, but she refused saying, “I found it and I want to use it!”  He got so angry with her that he threw his math away. He kept playing the situation over in his head and he was beating himself up over and over for letting his sister make him so angry…over a pen!

We talked through this situation and came up with alternative ways of how to deal with the situation that would have been more productive.  I took the situation to prayer and was so thankful that God revealed another beautiful lesson to me about my students.  It is so important for me to step back in situations and realize that what appears to be happening at the present moment, cannot be taken at face value.  There is often so much more going on in their lives than I am even aware of, even though I spend almost all day with them.

As their primary educator and their mother, it is so important for me to spend each day taking time to check in with them, understand how they are feeling, and to pray with them and for them.  Homeschooling is NOT about the textbooks or the lesson plans, but it is about loving my children for who they are at any given moment and in every situation.

My children are mysteries, and I am so thankful for the mysteries that they are.  Each day I learn something new about each of them and they continue to invite me even deeper into their world. For that, I am forever grateful.  It is possible for me to fail at teaching them History, Algebra, and English and they will survive, but if I fail to teach my children how absolutely loved and adored they are than I have failed my children in ways that they may never fully recover from.  Lord I beg you, never let me fail my children in the ways that matter most!

Tara Brooke

Tara Brooke is a wife, mother, educator, and child of God.  Tara has worked in various aspects of ministry in the Catholic Church for over 20 years, her last years as a Director of Marriage and Family Life for her local diocese.  She now stays home and tends to the needs of her growing and beautiful family.  She has three biological children and two adopted children, both with Down Syndrome. She loves helping engaged couples grow in their understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage as well as helping enrich already married couples in growing in holiness together.  She resides in Bismarck, ND with her amazing husband, Deacon Dan! 


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