Just Because Homeschooling Is Hard, Doesn’t Mean You’re Doing It Wrong

Sunrise through the clouds

Sunrise through the clouds (Photo credit: Betchaboy)

We’re in our third year of homeschooling and each one has offered its own challenges. But I have to admit that in the earlier part of this year, when certain areas of my son’s learning felt mired in frustration for both of us–writing and spelling, especially–I felt myself giving in to the demons of self-doubt that nag so many of we homeschooling parents; namely, ‘Am I doing this right?’ coupled with ‘Should we be doing this at all?’

No matter how my husband and I look at it, we know that homeschooling is the best for our child and we’re undeniably glad we started in the second grade. We wish we had started sooner. The conventional classroom is my child’s kryptonite, requiring more sitting still and undivided attention than he can deliver. School is fraught with demoralizing landmines for him, countless opportunities for teachers, administrators and other students to single him out for “doing it wrong.” But though we would never choose to put him back there, it’s hard not to wonder some days (if you give in to it), when homeschooling isn’t the peaceful, fun and clearly rewarding activity you hoped for, whether it’s hard because you’re doing it wrong or because it’s not the best fit for your kid.

There have been some especially tough stretches where I couldn’t help but dismally consider whether my son couldn’t not learn just as well in the fractured, dysfunctional environment of our local school, where at least he’d get to be with a lot of other kids, and some other teacher could bear the burden. Could that mythical teacher reach him better?

Don’t listen to those voices. After a week of serious soul-searching, reading and interacting with a lot of other homeschool families, I don’t believe I ever will listen again. It’s this week that I finally digested the fact that there isn’t any clear sailing, in school or out, when it comes to getting your child an education. If your school experience could be or was anything like ours, you already know that no other teacher would, nor perhaps should be asked to take the time and give the support to your child that you do. And if you’ve had the public school teachers that we have, you know that you are far more qualified than many of those that have taught hundreds of students and demoralized a good portion of them or at least practiced diligent neglect. I don’t mean to paint all school teachers, many of whom are excellent, with the same brush. And for many conventional learners and children who seems to thrive educationally in a variety of settings, regular school is fine.

But especially if your kid is a different learner, or if you simply feel strongly about the benefits of learning  at home, be confident that what you provide your child at home is far above what would be given in school, even on days that don’t seem that way. Because even on the days where you feel like nothing constructive is happening, it is.

This week I had my grand epiphany that homeschooling can just be hard. I would say simply “it is hard”, but I can’t speak for anyone else. And one of the biggest challenges is to keep the doubt at bay. When you buck a convention as pervasive as putting your kid in school, even while supported by other homeschoolers and a host of resources, you’re going to have occasional confidence issues. That’s okay. Every truly worthwhile activity requires that you question yourself, if not constantly, than at least occasionally. Hang in there. You’ve made a bold, creative choice. Probably it’s one that has impacted your family financially and socially. Definitely, it’s raised your required skill set as a parent. But if you’re a homeschooling parent reading about it and wanting to share the experience of others doing it, you’re doing fine. Just remember, it will be hard, and that’s okay. One day, it’ll get easier and then your child will be out in the world. Job done…at least that part of it!



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Salvage a Mildewed Shower Curtain

Like new!

I may not be the most OCD housekeeper, but I’m no slouch either. So when our cloth shower curtain caught a case of mildew, I was sure I could save it, rather than have to replace it.

I tried several remedies: soaking in boiling water and tea tree oil, vinegar, color-safe bleach. None of them would get those spots out, but I just didn’t want to give it up. So I inspected the curtain closely and saw that the mildew had only taken hold on the bottom four or five inches–the rest of the curtain was perfect. I cut off the offending fabric, did a thin hem and hung it back up, in front of a brand-new liner ($3.50 at Aldi). The whole ensemble was replaced/refreshed for a couple of bucks and looks great. Since the liner is clear, you don’t notice if it hangs out a few inches below the curtain, but it’s generally (once it’s dry) tucked back in the tub anyway.

If you ever find yourself in this predicament, don’t rush to trash your cloth curtain. In the meantime, religiously dry out the liner/curtain after each shower and you  may not have to worry about it in the first place!

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How to Rescue Your Scratched Eyeglasses

wearing eyeglasses, bonnet and apron, with was...
Image via Wikipedia

I remember the day I sat down at the optometrist’s table to order that particular pair of eyeglasses. I got every bell and whistle on those lenses except for what turned out to be the most important one–the scratch-resistant coating. Oops. I soon discovered that even what seemed to be the softest, safest cloth for wiping them might as well have been sandpaper. Though you can’t remove scratches like that, you can improve them in a Frugular way. Take a small amount of furniture polish (any brand will do) and apply it to each scratch–or, in my case, the entirety of both lenses. Rub the polish in with a lens-safe cloth and repeat as necessary, maybe after every other thorough eyeglass cleaning. Your scratches will be far less noticeable, and as long as your prescription holds, you can get years more wear out of your specs.

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Can a Tennis Ball Save Your Pillow?

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Have you ever put a pillow in the dryer and had it come out a misshapen mass that you couldn’t rest your head on without needing serious chiropractic care? I had it happen a few times and began to worry there wasn’t a way to ever have a washed pillow come out in its original shape. I thought (especially with a young child), it might be better just to buy the cheapest IKEA pillow you could and say goodbye when it got dirty or squashy. Not the most Frugular approach. But then I read somewhere that a few tennis balls might do the trick, and boy do they. I use three for a single pillow and it comes out nice and fluffy. Invest in a can, if you don’t already have some on hand, and you’ll stretch your pillow dollars a lot further.

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Cheap iPad Holder

A book holder makes a Frugular iPad stand.

Although I’ve got a Clamcase for my iPad on the way (review upcoming), in the meantime, I’ve been desperate for something to prop my ‘pad up with, for cooking and watching video. While using a recipe on it a few days ago, I realized that what works for a cookbook might work just as well in this case. Voila! I popped it in and it worked like a charm. The metal bar in the front of mine obstructs the view when watching movies just a bit, but if you have a lucite book holder, you’d be in business.

For those who worry about splattering their iPad during kitchen duty, try covering it in a freezer bag. You’ll protect your precious pad without impeding  screen sensitivity.

What’s your Frugular fix?

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Retirement: This Is How You Do It!

Take notes, Frugular friends. Look what this man did on $10,000 a year! It’s an inspiration to all of us who have felt poor with a lot more than that coming in. It’s not what you make–it’s what you do with it, right?

Welcome to Frugular!

Image by Punk In Writing via Flickr

What is it, exactly, this Frugular? It’s what you get when you combine the concepts of modular, tubular and just plain nifty with the notions of conserving time, energy and money. That’s Frugular–a stylish, modern way of living efficiently. Check in here for smart ways to do it!

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