I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most homeschoolers don’t have any more patience than you do. I sure don’t! I frequently have people tell me I must be “so patient” or that I have “the patience of a saint” because I homeschool. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m surprised my children don’t burst into hysterical laughter when they overhear these comments.
Parenting requires patience.
Think of all the times your patience has been tried as a parent. You’ve made it through sleepless nights with a newborn, potty training, and teething. You’ve likely been puked and peed on. Maybe you’ve had to deal with sibling squabbles, homework at the end of a long day, and long waits at the pediatrician’s office with a sick child. All of these things require patience. Homeschooling is no different. If you have enough patience to parent, you have enough patience to homeschool.
Jobs require patience.
If you work outside the home or have ever worked outside the home, you know how much a job can try your patience. Have you ever dealt with rude clients/customers, slacking co-workers, or unreasonable expectations from upper management? These situations require a great deal of patience to get through. I’ve found that some of the jobs I’ve held have tried my patience way more than homeschooling or parenting ever has. Often at work, we find ourselves in situations we can’t do much to change. You can’t teach those rude customers manners or discipline your slacking co-worker. However, as a homeschooling parent, you DO have the ability to teach, influence, and discipline your children to improve their behavior. The result is children who test your patience much less.
I’ve always found it strange that when people discover someone homeschools, they’ll say, “I could never do that. I don’t have enough patience.” But when the same people find out what someone does for a career, they never say something like, “I’d never have the patience to deal with clients and a boss!” If you have enough patience to hold down a job, you have enough patience to homeschool.
Life requires patience.
Every day we encounter situations that require patience- late UPS packages, long lines at the grocery store, traffic jams, waiting for payday, annoying neighbors, family issues… The list is endless. Think of all the times your patience has been tried over the past few days. For most of us it’s probably been several times, often multiple times a day. If you have the patience required to function in everyday life, you have enough patience to homeschool.
So, if we have enough patience to parent, hold down jobs, and function in everyday life, why do we feel that we couldn’t possibly have the patience to homeschool? It simply isn’t the norm in our culture for families to spend all day together. Both parents go to work, and the children go to daycare or school. Because that’s all many of us have ever known, it seems almost unnatural for parents to spend all day with their children. Parents in our society have forgotten how to be with their own children. We have forgotten that throughout history, families spent most of their time living and working together.
While reading Little House on the Prairie to my children, it occurred to me that when the Ingalls family set out in their covered wagon to begin their journey from the woods of Wisconsin to the prairie in Kansas, no one expressed concern over the family’s desire to spend all their time together, alone in the vast prairie. That would have seemed absurd then. I can imagine the reaction today. “Oh, Caroline, how will you be able to spend all day with your children? I’d never have the patience for that!”
Now, not only are we not used to families spending most of their time together, we are actively taught by our culture that it is wrong. We are told that our children are better off with the experts in schools and daycares than with us. And we are told that the sooner we can place our children in the care of these experts the better off we’ll all be. Nationwide, compulsory school ages are being pushed lower and lower, and many are advocating for mandatory public Pre-K.
We grow up hearing that children are a burden, annoying, and will keep you from doing something more important with your life. Every day on social media, we are bombarded with memes expressing how hard parenting is and how terrible children can be. Our entire lives we have heard parents complain about their children. We’ve grown up seeing parents, maybe our own, dread summer break and celebrate when their children return to school at the end of summer. It’s not surprising at all that people in our culture would doubt their ability to have the patience to homeschool.
The same culture which tells us that we can’t possibly have enough patience to deal with our own children expects teachers to have enough patience to handle a classroom full of children. How can it be that people think it requires a superhuman level of patience for me to homeschool only two children, but take it for granted that their child’s teacher has the patience to handle 20 to 30 children at a time? It doesn’t make much sense to me. If a school teacher can muster up the patience needed to educate that many kids, you should have enough patience to educate your children.
Learning a new skill takes practice.
If your child is frustrated with trying to learn to ride a bike, you wouldn’t say, “Oh well, you can’t ride a bike. You’ll never be able to ride a bike.” You would encourage your child to keep practicing. Patience is a skill that many of us, homeschooling or not, could stand to improve. So, don’t say, “I don’t have any patience. I’d never be able to homeschool.” Instead, work on practicing and growing your patience just like you would any other skill you’d like to learn.
The more time you spend with your children, the easier it will get. You’ll get used to it and so will they. If you have multiple children, they’ll learn to get along better. As a homeschooling parent, I get to spend the best part of the day with my children, rather than only the end of the day when the entire family is often tired and grouchy, and my patience is stretched thin.
If you’re a believer, pray for God’s guidance and help in growing your patience with your children and in all areas of your life. These 10 Prayers of Patience can provide a starting place. Also, spend some time reading Scripture about patience.
The take away
- Homeschooling does not require any more patience than other aspects of life.
- You are already more patient than you realize.
- Don’t let the culture make you feel that you can’t handle your own children.
- Like any skill, with practice, patience can be improved!