This is the end of our third week of homeschooling, and I'm learning some lessons of my own. Our second week consisted of some really rough days. Jackson struggles with handwriting. I have never pushed the issue before, but instead focused on what he was interested in, and centered his learning around that. Part of me thought it would eventually come naturally for him. He just turned 5 this month, and I'm realizing now that I had some unrealistic expectations for what would come with that age.
We began our first week with much excitement. He love it. I loved it. It was a lot of review for him, and full of fun, crafty activities. Then came week two, and we dove right in to handwriting. He struggled. I struggled. He was frustrated. I was frustrated. The curriculum started with the letter "S" (which I'm realizing now was kind of crazy. That's a hard letter to write). By the end of the week, I was at my wits end. I just knew that I was the worst teacher ever, and my status as a Mom was not far behind. Our last handwriting lesson of the week ended in tears, for both of us. I was ashamed that I had allowed it to get to that point, and I pulled him up on my lap, and declared that we were done with the letter "S".
Practicing his letters in salt before writing them
on paper has been a big help
Over the weekend I did some praying, and some reevaluating. After just two weeks of homeschool I realized that I needed to change my strategy. My desire is that he loves school, and loves to learn. I want it to be something that he pursues even when we aren't "in session". We sat down Monday morning and started with our Math lesson, and then letter recognition and sounds. I was putting writing off until the the end. I wanted to begin with something I knew he was good at, and build his confidence. This weeks unit is focused around M for Moon. I got out the plate of salt and we practiced the letter M.
These are M's that I wrote first, and he traced
Each time he would write his letter, his eyes met mine, looking for my reaction. As soon as I smiled, and told him what a great job he was doing, his eyes lit up and a huge smile spread across his face. In that moment I realized, it was all me. The stress, the frustration, the tears...it all stemmed from my reaction. It's not a new revelation for me, but I saw it in a new light. My attitude sets the tone for our day. The way I react to things will be the way he reacts to things. If I'm stressed to the max, and allow my frustrations to show, he will do the same. If I, due to unrealistic expectations, am disappointed in his progress, it will show, and he will be disappointed in his progress. But if I express how very proud I am of him, he will be proud. If I praise the good, it will encourage him to continue to try. If I show love, he will show love.
This extends so far beyond school. This is the desire of my heart for them in all of life's situations. Show love, show grace, show mercy, help others. So first, I must do the same. I am the example, and I'm still learning too.