Making Sure Our Homeschoolers Do Hard Things

by GfG on March 10, 2014 · 1 comment

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Last summer God answered a prayer request I had for our homeschool: He brought a logic, biology, and writing class to my doorstep. Ok, not exactly to our door step, but pretty much.  Seriously.

These are three classes that I am willing to tackle, but are challenging.

Some dear friends offered to teach biology and rhetoric composition.  For free.  Was I interested?  Oh, my!  YES!  Then they called back and asked if adding logic might be ok? I think I grinned so widely, they could see it from their house.

We were looking at The Pottter’s School again for logic, but were hoping to avoid it.  $700 for one class was not in the budget.  We were considering Right at Home for writing.  And  biology the textbook way.  Then this group of classes showed up and it was only going to cost the price of the materials.

Amazing.

co op books WEB

The day we started class, I saw a young girl going into the building who is the same age as Chloe.  It dawned on me that though this class was geared for ninth graders, Chloe could sit in and give the material a stab or two.  That was exactly the thoughts of one of the other mamas, which is why her daughter was attending.  So, on the spur of the moment, I told Chloe to go too.

She was less than thrilled.

I ordered her materials from Amazon that morning and became excited at the thought of her gleaning the wisdom and the wonderful material too.

She came home less than thrilled.

She stayed so for more than a few weeks.  More like a couple of months.

See…this class is tough.  The teachers have high expectations and the material is challenging.  Even if Chloe was on grade level with the intended students, it would be work, but she’s two years younger, making it even more so.

I talked to the teachers and Paul and I discussed it.  We all believed Chloe could do the work, with a bit of leniency for her age and abilities, which is how they viewed the other seventh grader in the co-op, so we kept her in class.

Most Thursday nights were full of tears as she tried to do the homework (last minute, of course… which we have now handled).  It stretched her brain.  It made her mind do new tricks. It was stinkin difficult.

Paul and I persevered.

And you know what?  So did Chloe.

Chloe co op WEB

We hugged, heartened, and helped her through her tears to the other side.  The other side where she learned the material. The other side where she is earning good grades in this high school class. The other side where she now knows she can do hard things.

I believe it’s a weakness is many homeschools: they do not have our children learn in their “favorite” or “best” style or method for everything their entire school path and/or they don’t force them to stay the course in an academic class they struggle in or don’t enjoy, never truly challenging them academically.

While the students gain knowledge and information, they may lack perseverance and the ability to stand up during difficult learning seasons.

And difficult learning seasons come to all of us.

It is the confidence to bear up under these times that gives us the strength to endure tough studies. And conquer.

I’m grateful we didn’t give up when we had the chance.  Doing hard things isn’t just about sacrifice or spiritual aspects of life (though we certainly need to do that and encourage it as parents).  Sometimes it means that I have to watch my child hurt (and hurt along with her) because I know she will grow and will gain the insight that is life long.

How can we help our children do hard things, academically?

  • Take the tough classes.
  • Work outside their comfort zone.
  • Keep strict deadlines.
  • Make them learn independently.
  • Read the challenging books.
  • Learn in a new way.

Do I mean to do these types of challenges for every class?  No way!  I just mean that if we always avoid them for our children, we are doing them a disservice.  And ourselves, as teachers and parents.

Would it have been a big deal to stop taking the class? No.  It would have helped me, actually, because she could have watched the three younger kids while I help in the class.   No, she would have more time to complete her other school work.  She would have been none the wiser that she was missing out.

Which is sort of the point.

When four adults believe a young girl can do the work (with some minor adjustments), then odds are she can. And will.

Chloe co op smile WEB

I’m so proud of her for learning despite her lack of desire to do so for quite awhile.  I’m so proud of her for sticking it out.  I’m so proud of her for doing this hard thing.

What hard thing are you challenging your homeschooler(s) to do this year, academically? 

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