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Does Your Kid Hate Homeschooling?

December 14, 2012
Does Your Kid Hate Homeschooling?

This week I was talking with a retired public school teacher. She told me that over her 40 years of teaching the most disturbing change in the public school philosophy and curriculum was the decreasing emphasis upon training children to develop workable skills, and a failure to instill productivity and personal responsibility. She said that over the last 15 years young adults graduated with no clue as to what they would do next, so they did nothing but “play on the computer or hang-out.”

Sadly, I have observed the same trend among homeschoolers. Ten years ago I sent out an appeal for homeschooling ideas. I was riveted to the letters as I read the wonderful, original and fun approaches to instilling initiative and resilient working skills in children. That was about the time Mike had a heart attack, so in the drama I forgot about my treasure stash of ideas. This past summer, after reading so many letters, and hearing the frustration of homeschooling mothers, my attention again turned to the need to share our best home schooling ideas with frustrated mothers. So I dug out the file of 10-year-old letters and sent out a fresh appeal for the latest home schooling ideas. The contrast was shocking. Something has happened in the last 10 years. Mothers are either burdened or rigid in their prepared, traditional approach to teaching children at home. I am reluctant to call it home schooling. The contrast 10 years later is a wake-up call.

Do some of your children hate school? If so, it is probably because what is being taught does not translate into real life; it is not favorable to producing creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, nor does it provoke kids to love work and assume responsibility. My upcoming book, Homeschooling Winners, is a collection of the most impressive ideas I received, as well as what I have learned in teaching parents how to prepare children to hit the road running. And it is coming soon, but not soon enough for my liking. So I decided to include some of the ideas in this magazine. The ideas are 10 years old, which means the children in training are now successful business owners. Be sure to read “Camera Hogs” (below).

You will find the old ideas listed below. Remember these ideas have been tried and proven to be wonderfully successful. So, go and do likewise. But, be warned. Your children will probably be heard begging, “Hey, Mom, please, can we do school?”

Camera Hogs

Camera HogsWhen I only had three small, bickering children, I stumbled upon an idea that changed our lives. I pulled out the movie camera one day and showed them how ugly they were when they fussed and fought. It did shock them, but it also had an unexpected effect—it made them want to make movies.

They started out just talking or telling stories. We soon gathered a large box of wigs, costumes, and other props that included stuffed animals. I would read a Bible story (now we use Good and Evil) and they would decide who would be which character and then dress up for the role they would play. I manned the camera. We got very imaginative telling stories like the raising of Lazarus from the dead, and the rich man in hell. They basically acted out the whole life of Moses. (They were shocked to learn he killed a guy.) The story of Samson and Delilah was interesting and hard to explain, but they loved doing the Last Supper because each of them played more than just one character. We used a flashlight under the bed for dark drama. A single story would take the whole afternoon to film and a week or more to prepare for. Sometimes I just narrated the story and sometimes they created their lines.

Over the years we have covered an enormous amount of Scripture, and the children know a wealth of Bible history. They learned drama, memorization, and how to perform in front of others. They became skilled at camera work, lighting, and sound systems—all the parts of production that make a movie interesting. They quickly learned film editing, which involves more than anyone could imagine. They have long since left me behind. Now we have a huge library of dramas that they enjoy watching when we need a big laugh.

It is fun to watch the children grow up in these films. All my children are gifted actors, and any of them are capable of stepping into a job behind a camera or behind a computer, editing. Their friends’ parents stuck by the books so they could have a complete education, but now these grown kids have no marketable skills. As I write this, I think back and bless the day I first picked up the camera to show them how naughty they were acting.

Grandfather’s Gift of Change

Grandfather's Gift of ChangeEven though I am only 15 years old, I want to tell you how my grandfather got the idea of spending money wisely across to me. I was just 12 years old when he took me to the grocery store and handed me the grocery list and money to pay for the food. He told me that I had to get everything on the list with the money in hand, but whatever was left over I could keep. Looking at those twenty-dollar bills was so exciting until I started down the aisle of the store with my calculator, adding up the items. Several times I had to go back and find a lower-priced item, which meant I could not buy name-brand goods. Until that day, I had never even noticed name-brand prices being so much higher. Finally, I finished my list. I carefully went back over it to make sure I had everything. As I unloaded my cart at the checkout, I was very happy to know that I had some money to spare. It was just a little change, but I had managed to buy everything. Now, three years later, I don’t remember how much change was left from that first shopping expedition, but I do know that what I learned was priceless.

Thanks, Grandpa.

Solar System

Solar SystemWe made a solar system model out of lightweight foam and painted it with reflective paint. I fashioned a night sky to put on the ceiling, and then hung the sun, planets, and moons in place. At a yard sale, I found a clock that has a very dim, moving night sky so when the main lights are out, the tiny, star-shaped lights cross over our planets, and the reflective ceiling adds to the whole scene. It is the coolest thing possible. When I tuck the kids in bed, I tell them my own “Star Wars” story about God’s throne with the flashing lights and a crystal floor as it’s described in Revelation. I tell about the angels being huge warriors sent to help us, and about the four beasts with the giant wings standing around the throne, saying, “Holy, holy, holy,” and they love it.

Recipe Books

Recipe BooksMost libraries have a “for sale” room where you can obtain (either free or at a very low cost) out-of-date cooking magazines. I pick up a few each time we go to the library. As we get the magazines, we look through them and mark with different-colored paper stickers recipes that catch our eyes. A gray tab means it is a main-dish recipe that has meat in it, yellow is for beans, green for salad, pink for dessert, etc.

The children have new photo albums that they are using to create their personal cookbooks. Once a month we go through our magazines, cutting out a few recipes and pictures they like best to add to their own photo books. One child is making a cake cookbook, the other a salad cookbook, and the third, a cookbook for meat dishes. This year the children are making recipe books that they will give as gifts to someone special. They really love doing this because they see me using my recipe book that we built together last year.

They also see that I am always adding recipes or taking out recipes that I no longer like. Once a month each of the children chooses a recipe to cook for the family (with my help). If we all like the dish, then it is a keeper for the family recipe book. If not, we pull the recipe out of the picture slot and discard it. My children are becoming good cooks while making great memories. And the recipe books they give as gifts to Grandma and Auntie will be their legacy.

Know Your Child

Know Your ChildYesterday I had a wonderful day with my 7-year-old son. I drove two hours to my parents’ house and dropped off the other children for their once-a-month night over. Usually their stay-over coincides with a time their truck-driving daddy is home, which allows us to have a date night. But this time Dad was on the road, so I told my son this would be his special time. I had never done this before, but I had noticed my son seemed to be getting distant and short-tempered, and he had come to hate homeschooling. His growing bad attitude set off my alarms.

When we got back to our town, we went straight to the library for books that I could read to him that evening. We stopped by the grocery where I bought fried chicken and biscuits, and we shared a picnic at the park. Afterwards, we played on the swings and slides and just chased each other around, laughing, until it was almost dark. Even though it was evening by the time we got home, we did his school lessons together. He really loved working one-on-one, especially since it only took a short time with my undivided attention. Then we sat together in the big chair and read all the library books he had picked out earlier in the day. He said he wished he had checked out a hundred!

Deb says, Look into your child’s eyes, to show your love for them.

At bedtime, I lay beside him and told stories of when he was little, and then stories of when I was little. Sometime during the evening he started talking. He told me everything he could think of and some of it twice. I really came to know my son as a human being. He wasn’t just my baby, or even just my son; he was an individual who had ideas and dreams. Finally we prayed together and I climbed over into the other twin bed. I heard his long, contented sigh, and then he said, “This is the best day I ever had. Thank you, Mama.” I have to say that I cried.

So many times I have taken my children to this exciting activity or that great learning event or even out to a fine dinner, but just to spend the time being a one-on-one mama had escaped me. So, yes, this is my best homeschool idea.

The Making of a Doctor

The Making of a DoctorOur 9-year-old son wants to be a doctor like his grandpa. Grammy takes his hopes seriously. She took his picture, had it blown up to life-size, glued it to cardboard, and cut it out. She mailed it to him and told him to hang it on his wall because she would be sending him schoolwork every week. And she does.

Every week in the mail (he loves getting mail) he receives a learning page about a different body part as well as a picture of the body part to color and pin on his cardboard cutout. This week she sent him a line drawing of the brain that he colored and taped over his head. She also sent a page telling how the different sections of the brain function. After reading this page, he taped it up beside the picture of his head and ran colored strings from the page to the brain.

What makes a doctor? A grandmother who believes in dreams and makes them happen. She is homeschooling a future doctor from afar. We email her an updated picture each week, and she loves that.

Blind-Folding Mommy

Blind-Folding MommyI wanted to teach my children how to give good directions, so I took them on a tour of our house. Just like in a tour, I talked them through as we walked in the front door and through the rest of the house. Then I gave each one a starting place and told them to write directions that would lead to the kitchen table. When they were finished, I had them put a blindfold on me and I began following their directions as they read them aloud. I ran into walls, missed steps, and basically never made it to the kitchen table.

The next day they tried again with a reward going to the one who could get me to the kitchen table without any mishaps. Each week we stretch out a little farther in learning to give directions—first in the yard, next in the neighborhood, and then in the city. We bought a world map and started “traveling” everywhere, and our directions began to include ships and trains, hours and time changes, etc. Now my children are all tremendous at giving directions and have a great deal of confidence about it.

At church the other day, a lady was trying to give directions to her friend regarding how to get to the upcoming school play. My 10-year-old son politely said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Arnold, but if you turn right, you will be at Hardees. The correct directions are…” Both ladies stared with expressions of utter surprise and then looked at me, obviously impressed. “Where does this boy go to school?”

He looked up at me sweetly and then answered for me, “Oh, my mom homeschools us.”

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17 comments on “Does Your Kid Hate Homeschooling?”

  1. Oh My goodness, this has been in my prayers all week, I am hating homeschooling and was so frustrated, thank you so much for writing this article, I just saw the title and had to say thank you, this is an answer to my prayers!

  2. The day we tossed the homeschool books, was the best day of our lives!!! Are my children stupid??? Maybe in the worlds eyes, but who cares… When are we going to quit loving the world and the things in it, and start loving our spouseds and children? I was well on my way to ruining my family when the Lord stopped me!! (Debi’s book and all of your other books helped also) I have two boys, ages 14 and 12, and a girl age 8. The boys started raising chickens to sell eggs when they were around 8 years old. They still sell eggs, but have added produce, bird houses, flowers grown in a home made hot house, and many other things!! My oldest has had articles printed in bird newsletters!! He loves to write and does it well. He could not spell at all 4 years ago, but through writing about something he likes, and me helping him correct it, he hardly ever makes a spelling error!! My second odlest likes to read everything!! We make sure he has good interesting healthy books and let him read. He remembers everything he reads and if his old parents forget something, we ask him!! They both worked at a greenhouse last summer, even ran it by themselves for 4 days!! The owner called them back to help out this year!! We are thrilled they are making money, saving money and learning a skill they are both interested in!! My daughter cannot read yet, which by the worlds standards is just terrible, but we don’t care!! I love to read outloud to her and she is a good help around the house and helping out her brothers!! (They even pay her to help!!) So, yes, there is life after throwing out the books and letting one BOOK (bible) rule your life!! We are living proof of it!! Daddy is a deseil mechanic at home, and the boys have no real interest in mechanics, but do help out when needed. My daughter loves to go out and help him!! God is faithful if we trust Him and leave off the ways of the world….when will the chuch wake up??? Worldy is not outward appearance, it is the way we do things!! We would be glad to share more if you need any more ideas!! We just live with our children and they are learning to live also. Thank you for your ministry, it has set us free in so many ways.

    1. Sandy – How many years had you been homeschooling before you tossed the homeschool books? How old were your kids? My youngest two are 12 & 14, I would soooo love to chuck the books and have some real fun! I go back and forth between world standards and ‘real’ living.

      Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated. We live in a city so no room for goats and cows, lol. We do have a chicken though!



    2. Thank you for sharing your life, Sandy. You are inspiring! Your loved ones will be an inspirations and blessing to others. They are “leaps and bounds” ahead of many of us 🙂 and will do so much in life. Because you are listening to God first, as a family you are reaping His rewards. You will be well prepared for what will come in life.

  3. We have just coming to the end of our first year of really being free from the boxed in thinking that homeschooling has become. This is also the first time I am free from anxiety as the nagging doubts of “gaps”, “behind” and the ever present “Am I doing this right?”. My children have blossomed. Avoiding textbook & workbook school is not the same as not actively educating. It just isn’t school-at-home with hours locked to a desk “studying” thing just because some “expert” professor/writer decide that kids can learn “X” topic at such-and-such age so they should and lots of it too for good measure.
    One difference is waiting until they are developmentally ready. What takes months/years for the unready takes days/weeks/months for the ready. It sticks longer too. I was surprised once I came across older(60’s-‘early 80’s) info on early child development. The age where a child comes into their learning prime for structured sit down learning is not 5 or 6 years old but anywhere between 8 to 12 years old! Applying this to my own children has reaped rewards already, lessened conflicts and removed much stress. This is so amazing I could go on and on about it.
    One fun way we worked on writing and grammar studies was to incorporate my daughters favorite story series that included a school. She got writing assignments from the teacher which were themed to the events of the series. Good learning that did not feel like school at all. It opened her up to writing on her own just because she wanted to!

  4. These are truly great, creative ideas. But even if you don’t want to be a homeschooling parent tied to books, how do you deal with grammar? And algebra? And a dozen other things that will certainly have a pay-off for kids later in life, but that they can’t stand now? There are some subjects that, no matter how creative I try to be, different ones of my children just can’t stand.

    I can’t discover each child’s particular gifts if I haven’t helped them lay a foundation to have something to communicate about themselves, but that can be hard work. What I need to discover is how to help them value that work. Can school/exploration/learning be valued even if it isn’t easy or fun or just what a child wants to do?

    The fun fun fun of learning is easy to see in the ideas in this article. What’s not so easy to see is how to get kids to be willing to learn even if it’s not fun in the moment, even if it takes effort, even if they have to patiently await the results of what’s being built step by step.

    1. Sometimes it is a matter of age and thinking outside of the box. Yes our children need to write clearly and expressively. They need to know functional math. Sometimes they need to know things just to get into college. But the usualy ages and methods are not always right.
      Where a lot of the pain and frustration comes from is at what ages you are asking them to learn it. For example English grammar does not need to be learned until high school. A child can learn to write nice thank-you notes without ever touching a grammar book. You learn to write well by writing a lot about things, fictional or not. Grammar really is only a small part in being able to communicate well with the written word.
      Just becuase it is traditional to learn or teach something at age ?? does not mean you have to or they will never learn it. Many subjects can be learned faster, better and with a lot less frustration if you wait. My oldest would have been tagged learning disabled by even homeschool standards because of her difficulties with basic math. That part of her brain simply was not ready until she was around 12. With the help of a program called Math-It she is flying at 13.
      One shocking thing I discovered, much to my relief, is that if my child has not learned something vital by adulthood there are classes available that teach those very things. Why is there a market for such classes? Because public school kids have gaps and subject they didn’t quite grasp while young either. This is a hidden secret of education. Sometimes you miss learning something and need to catch up later. It’s not the big shameful deal we are led to believe it is. Stuff gets missed and classes exist to help out.

      1. I thought your last paragraph was really interesting. I remember once Mom was registering for some college class (or getting info on it) for herself, and we were standing in a line. She started talking to the lady next to her, and that lady confessed that she was taking a class to help her with reading comprehension. She was an adult, but she still had a hard time comprehending what she read. This made no sense to me at the time. Why didn’t someone help her learn this? How could she get through all 12 grades and still not be able to comprehend what she was reading? But it happened! And it happens a lot. But I’ll bet she can comprehend just fine now. 🙂

  5. YOu will love these books which spark creative ideas and teach righteousness in a hands on fun way also little by little you will be teaching your children to read write and spell here are the books
    All of the Door Post books are great such as Plants Grown Up for sons and Polished Cornerstones for daughters and I love the book For Instructions In Righteousness to help guide and correct our children to make righteous decisions

    The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick (and look up her others too)
    The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook By Raymond S. Moore (he and his wife are some of the first to suggest teaching your children through life and hands-on learning that is enjoyable as they also taught their children successfully through this method….good reading!

    If your children are all little like mine you can pick out a key scripture according to what your children are currently needing guidance on (For Instructions In Righteousness can help you with this by helping you to navigate through the Bible) and then you can put hand motions to the scripture and a tune which helps them to remember the scripture so quickly and you can let them act out a skit that goes to the scripture and catch it on your video camera…you can take the scripture and draw a picture to it and label the different things in the picture such as if you draw a tree label tree and the children will learn how to spell this word because they are learning it indirectly….you can have them trace these simple words even if it is just one,,,,little by little you build up the words to more advanced words and the great thing is that the children are learning the scripture as well as reading writing and spelling…..this is the most important thing because we are commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Matt 4:4 and elsewhere in many passages that the foundation of the scriptures is most important and when we raise up strong sons and daughters that the Almighty can use He will bless them with great skill and wisdom in whatever way He needs to fit His plans for them as He did in several mentions in scripture such as Daniel and his 3 friends and when the Tabernacle was being built under the leadership of Moses…..exciting and relieving to me as a young mother
    By the way, ask wise parents who have gone on before you, search them out they are a wealth of knowledge…I got a lot of the above ideas from a wise older woman who is carrying her 12th child and all of her children are successful in many great skill and they all love their Creator with their whole hearts…..”little by little” she said, with joy and excitement and A love for the Ways of our Father in heaven above all things, teaching all day long of His ways in all that you do with your children….very inspiring!

    Best of all The Creator Who made our children is backing you up because you are doing this for HIs glory!
    Keep praying for them!

  6. I use a lot of Rod and Staff resources. I was doing their grammar with my daughter and she hated it. Then I changed it and made it all oral answers instead of writing. She cruises through it, loves the time with Mama, asks to do it and gets plenty of writing practice with other things. It takes about 10 minutes a day now. Before it was an hour. Sometimes it isn’t throwing it all out, sometimes it is adjusting the “rules” so that our children can blossom. Just a thought from a happy homeschooler.

  7. I just finished Debs new homeschooling book and, being a visual learner, I wondered if we could see just one of the homeschooling movies mentioned by one mom. We tried making our own yesterday but I think I may have moved too fast, read too much, and not gotten the kids involved enough. I need a visual! I am really excited about this though. We are expecting our 7th and I am so tired. I think this will be a huge help!

    I am letting them watch their movie school right now but I can see it is not really engaging them… I think it was just too “schooly”

  8. Thank you for this article! I grew up under a rather rigid homeschooling schedule and it’s a bit intimidating for me to leave the comfort of ‘typical’ school habits for a more fun and meaningful route, because I’m not sure how to do it! But my oldest has been hating school for a couple months now and something needs to be changed. I googled for the new book mentioned but didn’t see any record of it. Soon in coming?? Cheering and hoping for it with all my heart!