Here I am, 48 hours on the other side of what was, hands down, bar none, the WORST day we’ve had in one and two-thirds year and 4 days of official homeschooling. It was the WORST.
Bug is a smart kid and a sweet boy. And homeschooling so far has been pretty great. But I’m not going to lie, some of his coursework is getting harder. He can DO it but it takes a little more effort that he’s used to. Things until now have come so easily too him – I was afraid of what would happen when they don’t.
Math – he’s really good at. I swear that boy sees the world in numbers. He’s always figuring up this and that in his head. Like the weather app on the phone says it’s 62 degrees right now and the low tonight will be 48. He will figure up how much the temperature is going to go down and tell you. He’s 7 and does this math in his head. We have recently switched to Singapore math which I think is perfect for him. But he’s having to think a little harder. And he has a bad habit of shutting down if the answer doesn’t immediately come to him. So now we’re working problems like 104+65+11 and he has to write it down and work it out and he hates that. And word problems, heaven help us if he has to read a word problem.
Spelling – he’s a decent speller. But again, if the answer doesn’t immediately come to him he shuts down. And he’ll just start spitting out random letters. And it makes me mad when he does this.
Writing/Language – Sweet baby Moses, this is his weak point. He hates to write. So I allow him to do a lot of diction. But sometimes he doesn’t even want to think. Make up a sentence about a cat using an adjective. *crickets* Now if we were driving down the road he’d be telling me fantastical stories he just made up in his head. But if it’s for school…I can’t get a single sentence about a cat out of him.
Everything else he’s fine with. He loves to read, to be read too, he loves history and he loves science. But lately, he’s been throwing a little attitude in with his normal frustrations over the subjects he doesn’t like. Which reallllllly gets under my skin. I’ve been getting a lot of “I don’t LIKE school” and “I’m NOT going to do school today”. In these moments I (try to) calmly go over the facts –
You have to do school – either here are home or in a “real” school. It’s the law and Momma would get in trouble if you didn’t do school.
We are blessed that Momma can stay home and homeschool you. We have a lot of fun and you get more free time. Which he knows. He knows that we get started waaay later than the kids in school and he always points out when the bus is rolling past the house and that he’s already finished with school and having fun with his toys.
He knows how good he has it. But the ‘tude pops up more than I like it too.
So flashback to Tuesday. It was 2:30 and we still had two more assignments to get through. I was tired and things were piling up that needed to be done that I couldn’t get too because I was having to “hold his hand” through every lesson. Things he SHOULD have been able to do on his own but wouldn’t. And I wasn’t able to step away for a minute to make lunch, put clothes in the wash, go to the bathroom…
Everything that day had been a fight. Math was a fight because I wanted HIM to copy the information from the word problems so I could make sure he could line them up correctly. Spelling was fight because the new words were hard. Even read aloud time (which is usually ok!) was a fight because he’s not fond of the book we’re currently reading. Language was a fight because, well, I don’t know, because there were words I guess. I had painstakingly transferred all the assignments for language to dry erase lapboards so we could do our underlining, editing, and fill-in-the-blanks on dry erase boards with fun markers. And he wasn’t having it.
And I had had it. We both yelled, we both cried, we both took a timeout. We tried again. We yelled and cried some more. And took another time out.
And here is how we got through it….
I did a lot of yelling. I am not proud. I yelled. I was mad. So he was sitting in his room where I had banished him too for his own good. Because I was mad.
Did I mention I was mad?
I grabbed a book and asked him to meet me in my room. Our favorite place to read during the school day is in the bed with extra pillows, blankets and stuffed animals.
So here he comes with his two favorite stuffed animals dragging his well loved blanket behind him. And he climbs in the bed with me and falls against my chest, sobbing.
He was sorry. “I am sorry for my bad attitude.”
Now I’m crying. I apologize for yelling.
I ask him to take a deep breath for me. And try to stop crying. I want to read him a story and then we can talk when we’re both feeling better.
I can’t even remember what we read. Seriously. It was only two days ago and the book is probably still on my bedside table. But I can’t remember it.
I do remember him cradled against my side studying each picture on every page as I read.
I do remember his deep, jagged breaths as he tried to calm himself so he can listen to the story.
I do remember breathing him in. Oh, how many times we’ve snuggled and read a story in these past 7 years but this time I just wanted to soak him in.
I do remember squeezing him just a little tighter because I wanted him to know, to feel that Momma was sorry.
After the story, I asked him what we are supposed to do when we mess up, when we need help or when things are going badly.
So I told him I was going to pray and if he wanted to add anything to our prayer I would let him. I started by thanking God for loving us and blessing us. I asked for peace in our hearts and to remove the ill feelings and bad attitudes. I asked for forgiveness for our mistakes today. And G chimed in with “I’m sorry for my bad attitude” before erupting in sobs again. I closed the prayer and hugged him until he felt better.
And then I suggested that we end our school day and start fresh the next day.
I think that last bit made ALL the difference. He knew we still had work today. We had abandoned language in the midst of our bad moment. Books still splayed open on the desk. I can’t be sure, but I feel like he knew we were going to have to go back to that and it was upsetting him. He wanted to be done. He needed to be done. And he was dreading not being done.
Oh, but grace. I decided we needed grace. I was in no mood to talk about nouns and adjectives. And I knew there was no way he was going to absorb anything from the lesson in the state he was in. No good was going to come from trying to do it. Or even science which we hadn’t got to yet – even though he enjoys science – there are just times that you can’t even enjoy your most favorite thing.
So what do you do when you’re faced with the WORST homeschool day ever?
Or rather, what should you do to stop a really bad day from turning into the worst day ever?
1. Take a time out. Everyone.
Send the kids to their rooms. If you have tiny ones, secure them in a crib, bouncer or somewhere where you can step away for a moment and retreat to your quiet place. Even if it’s the bathroom. Cry. Pray. Breathe. Take a few minutes to get it together.
2. Come back together but not back to the situation.
Bond over something. Snuggle on the couch and read a book. Or watch a cartoon. Just be close for a few minutes.
DON’T go back to the school books.
3. Pray together.
Now you might be saying, “Well, you should do this first!” But I have to disagree. Prior to the time out I was in no mood to pray. And you say, “Well, that’s not how it works.” Well, maybe it doesn’t. But for the benefit of my 7 year old and using this moment to teach him about prayer I need to be in a better frame of mind. I can angry pray by myself when I have my timeout. Then I’ll be in the right frame of mind to lead prayer.
Also, allow your child to pray to if they feel comfortable with it. Modeling prayer is something I’ve tried to do all along with G. He says his bedtime prayers but in moments like this he prefers that I pray because he “doesn’t know what to say”. I keep reminding him that he can say whatever he wants to God or whatever he feels like he needs to say. But I don’t push. So his words he contributed to the prayer on this day were a welcome surprise. It made my heart swell.
4. Call it a day.
Seriously, if it’s that bad, just let it go. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. There is so much grace in homeschooling. Now, if you’re having a hard time on a regular basis, then I’m not advocating calling it quits after 2 subjects every day. At some point you’re going to have to do steps 1-3 and then go back to the books and power through it.
But if it’s occasional, sometimes you just need to reset. We ended up having a wonderful afternoon together – just being together. And later that evening while he was playing with LEGOs I grabbed our read aloud book, missionary stories and Bible story book and did the next days reading. He was attentive and it was enjoyable and it got us ahead in those subjects, which was helpful because I knew we had a little catching up to do the next day on the subjects we abandoned.
5. Start Fresh the Next Day
We started our morning the next day with a prayer that our hearts and attitudes would be better and that our day would be blessed.
We had a better day. :)
What do you do when your homeschool day has been bad? I would love to hear how you reset!