Homeschooling and Patience
We’ve been homeschooling for a while and we’re asked lots of questions, have endured so many opinions from people we don’t know (and some we do), and have received both resounding support and eye-rolls and sighs.
The most common thing we hear is:
You must have so much patience to homeschool. You really need to have patience to homeschool.
I’ve got to be honest, I sometimes straight up laugh out loud when people say this to me. I can also assure you my children, laugh/snicker, or just creep away giggling.
Why? Because they know I’m not the most patient person on the planet. Or in the state. And certainly not in the Lego aisle of Target.
What Is Patience and Do You Need Copious Amounts of It to Homeschool?
I looked up the definition of patience and found this:
the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
Do I need endless supplies of patience to homeschool? Why is homeschooling equated with patience? Why do I get impatient with myself when I don’t feel like I have enough patience to patiently homeschool my three kids?
It's because I’ve been hearing for years that I must have so much patience. I certainly don’t have a huge capacity to accept suffering and trouble and my family will tell you that I often wear my heart on my sleeve. I also know that if I needed oodles of patience to homeschool, I would've given up a long time ago.
Cultivating patience is something that I am absolutely growing in and working towards as homeschooling parent. I also know that we’re homeschooling as a lifestyle and there will be good days and bad days—just like with any other parenting.
When I think about patience, I see it as one tool in my parenting/homeschooling toolbox. Do I use it? Yes. Do I pull it out every 10 minutes day after day? Probably not. Should I? Maybe. I will say that I am not naturally a patient person. Perhaps that’s part of my personality too. My homeschooling friend down the street might have copious amounts of patience and her days and her kids look different from mine. It doesn’t make one way better than the other.
We are a loud (so loud) family. We have opinions (so many opinions). We have different needs, schedules, interests, sleep habits, food likes and dislikes and, well, you get the picture.
Does this require patience. Yes.
It also requires communication, acceptance, honoring differences, sharing, boundaries, and all the in-between messiness of being a family. We just happen to be homeschooling too.
What’s Lurking Behind the Question of Patience?
After talking to a small sample of homeschooling parents, the common feedback I received was this: No, you don’t need tons of patience to homeschool well. No, you don’t need to keep it all together all the time. And, you certainly don’t need to explain any of this to naysayers.
And can I be honest? People, when they are mentioning patience and homeschooling, are really asking: how on earth do you spend all that time with your kids?
There. I said it.
This is why homeschoolers are asked about patience—because we have chosen a different path to education, living, and tackling our lives. We are tackling things in a different way and that looks strange and scary to lots of people.
We are choosing to spend more time with our kids. As my friend Christy said, she approaches homeschooling beginning with the end in mind. I love that! She’s not homeschooling because she has all the patience in the world. Neither am I. Neither are most homeschoolers. We are homeschooling in spite of our lack of patience. We are growing and learning right along side of our kids. We are relearning or undoing belief systems that have held us back or held our children back from being the best versions of ourselves.
We cannot let lack of patience get in the way.
Can you grow to be more patient? Of course! I am much more patient now with my kids in some areas—like math, for instance. I used to hold such tight reigns on how and when and why and what when it came to math. I’ve learned to lean into the process and relax and show more patience. Notice I did not say show all the patience in the entire world and beyond.
I’m human and fractions make me crazy.
The Truth About Patience and Homeschooling
My patience doesn't look like my husband's patience or my adolescent kids' patience. I think it's unfair to just throw blanket statements out there about patience and homeschooling.
Ironically, I think my friends who are choosing traditional schooling have TONS of patience. Dealing with lunches every day? Nope. PTA meetings. Hard no for me. Getting up at the crack of dawn? I'm cheering you on from my warm bed, sister!
If we go back to the definition of patience, we can get comfortable with the fact that we all have different thresholds for tolerating things that might make us upset or angry. I also don't want to live our homeschooling days in a constant state of patience. I want to work through the hard stuff. I want my kids to as well. I want them to experience failing, to work out problems, to voice concerns, and to manage their emotions.
And yes, I want them to have patience when needed.
Homeschooling is not always an easy path, but it's one I'm grateful we've chosen, despite my lack of patience.