Too Impatient To Homeschool

Ho-Ho-Ho-Ho-Homeschooling is Great! Just couldn’t resist the pun. Little Angel Bright by Steve Henderson — original oil painting, signed limited edition print, and poster.

In twenty years of homeschooling, the most frequent comment I have heard about the activity, from people who don’t do it, is:

“I could never homeschool! I’m simply not patient enough!”

This one ties, actually, with the most frequent question,

“How will your children ever by normally socialized if they don’t go to public school?”

I’ve always laughed at that latter one: you mean that mobs of children, all the same age, crowded together and peer pressuring one another all day long, is normal?

But back to this patient thing: I always smile at that one, too, because quite frankly, I am not the world’s most patient person. Who is?

When you homeschool, it’s important that you never forget the insidious effect of sub-conscious insecurity. Parent teachers, because they operate largely on their own, frequently wonder,

“Am I doing this right?”

“Do I really know how to teach this?”

“What if I’m getting this wrong?”

Whether we realize it or not, questions like this are always dancing about in the back of our

It’s a great big world out there, and no teacher — parent, public, or private — can know everything about anything. Off the Grid, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

heads — and it doesn’t help that society questions our intellectual qualifications as well — so that, if a child doesn’t spell well by a certain age, or isn’t reading at a particular level, or simply cannot understand the clock face and hands, we blame ourselves. In a larger traditional schoolroom, with more kids milling about, it’s acceptable to blame the child, or the parents.

So recognize that one of the reasons you may be getting impatient is because your child isn’t “getting it” fast enough, and that can be for a variety of reasons, not necessarily your inadequacy as an instructor. When Eldest Supreme was 6, she went through a math program that prided itself on being intuitive, tapping into the inner child, so to speak, and loosely presenting concepts that the child would readily understand and adapt.

“Loosely” is a vast understatement. While it wasn’t an issue when we were discussing counting and basic adding and subtracting, something that a child of six frequently can do, everything fell apart when the curriculum decided to introduce fractions (“Split up fun!”), elementary algebraic concepts, and division — this latter before multiplication, and again, when the child was 6. Six!

Taking time to stop and reflect is important when you are homeschooling. Reflection, original oil painting, signed limited edition print, and open edition print, at Steve Henderson Fine Art and Great Big Canvas.

Initially I got frustrated — impatient — with Eldest Supreme because, not surprisingly, she wasn’t “getting it,” and the easiest thing was to blame her and not the impossibly frustrating, expecting-way-more-out-of-a-child-than-reality-dictates workbook curriculum. Eventually, I got it myself, and skipped pages that weren’t appropriate (this wasn’t particularly difficult because the curriculum itself was in no particular order, and concepts introduced on page 10 would never be heard from again).

This also illustrates a potential pitfall when you rely too heavily upon curriculum: you bought it, someone — supposedly with expertise — developed it, and by golly you’re going to get through each and every page. But as my math nightmare with Eldest Supreme shows, this doesn’t always — actually usually doesn’t — work.

Ultimately, the problem of patience isn’t so much whether you have enough of it or not — I’m guessing that in everyday life you’re a reasonably mature person who doesn’t go around kicking dogs, and you can work a half-hour at a time cooking, or gardening, or driving, without getting into a screaming rage. The problem of patience is often whether or not you have enough confidence to know that you’re going about your activity, like homeschooling, in a sensible manner, and if perfect results don’t show up instantly, this isn’t because you — YOU — are a massive failure.

If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to read my article, Why Do You Homeschool?

Money’s tight, but it doesn’t have to squeeze your lifestyle. Live Happily on Less at and Barnes and Noble.

which addresses this crucial issue of parent teacher confidence. Thursdays I write about family and homeschooling for this site, This Woman Writes, and you can see the collection of articles in the Homeschooling section of the site.

If you’re like our family was, you are not enjoying the financial benefits of a double income, and money is always a factor to be considered. I encourage you to buy, or borrow on Amazon Prime, my book, Live Happily on Less, which discusses real and realistic ways to make the most of the resources you have. It’s in both paperback and digital (cheap!!!!! $5.99!) versions at, and in paperback at Barnes and Noble.

This article has been linked to A Wise WomanA Little R and RDeep Roots at HomeWholehearted HomeHope in Every SeasonRaising HomemakersSimply Helping HimHolistic SquidMama BZZDay 2 Day JoysWalking RedeemedGrowing HomeCoastal Charm, Memories by the MileTeaching What Is Good, Mop it Up Monday, Little House in the SuburbsMy Joy Filled LifeAlderberry HillNatural Living MondayThe Prairie HomesteadA Blossoming LifeMoms the Word,  Mama Diane,

8 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing! I’ll have to read your post on parent teacher confidence. It sounds like a good one 🙂

    I found your post on the The Wise Woman Builds Her Home link-up.

    1. Missy — thank you for finding me. Parent teacher confidence is a BIG thing in homeschooling, and the first thing to know is that everyone feels unconfident in some way, at some time or another, and that’s okay. We’re not the only major significant doofus in the world who can’t get this right; we’re human beings who love and cherish our children, and we have chosen to homeschool because we feel that this is the best thing for them, for us, and for our family. — Carolyn

  2. I always crack up with this one, too. I am so NOT a patient person. But, I do better with the kids at home than having to correct bad habits that sneak in from school (we’ve tried both). I always tell people I’m just not a matched socks at 6:30 in the morning kind of mom.

  3. I’m not a patient person at ALL either. I definitely struggle daily to homeschool my kids. I’ve been praying super hard that God will give me extra strength lately.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue!

    1. Crystal — be encouraged — you are more patient than you think. The goals we set for ourselves, and our kids, sometimes try us because we’re a little . . . inflexible with ourselves. Often, we expect far more out of ourselves than we would another person.

      Relax, breathe, smile — enjoy those beautiful beautiful children of yours, because they are precious indeed, and you are their much beloved mother. These are years you will value all of your life. — Carolyn

  4. I hear that “I’m not patient enough” line regularly too. It tends to frustrate me a bit because I’m not all that patient naturally either. We just make a choice and actually I think we have to deal with less in a way by homeschooling.

    1. Abbi — the interesting thing about comments like, “I’m not patient enough,” is that it theoretically is a compliment, but it comes off sounding like an insult, along the lines of, “Gee, you overachieving patient saint you, who do you think you are?”

      Like you, I find my patience fraying a bit at the people who make this comment, but then I think, “Oh, well, there are a lot of good things you’ll never do because you don’t think that you can. Your problem, not mine.”

      Mercy. that sounds . . . impatient. I wish you the best of a lovely day, and may your homeschooling time be fruitful, fun, and memorable. With your upbeat attitude, I know it will be! — Caorlyn

  5. Thanks for sharing this on Natural Living Monday. It made me think. Both of my kids attend public school right now. We are very lucky to have wonderful schools right near our house. Before they started school, I had seriously considered homeschooling and felt that I wasn’t patient enough, my exact words! And I think you are right, that it is a confidence thing. So, you made me think!

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