“Hey, come help me move this couch. I want to clean under it really well.” As I impatiently waited for one of my sons to appear and help, I saw a small paper folded up in the cushions. Upon further inspection, I knew immediately what it was and my heart sank. It was the assignment that had gone missing months earlier. Only it hadn’t just been misplaced, I was realizing now that it had been purposefully and deceitfully hidden.
My child did not want to do the work and so had lied to me about ever receiving the assignment. I remember well when it came up missing, I had helped him search for it. We looked everywhere: in his desk, under the bed, in his backpack, folders, binders, closet, on my desk and in my books…
He lied to me. How could he do this, again?
During the previous school year, I discovered months of unfinished math and science. I could feel my anger rising. Why does he think this behavior is acceptable? Why would he try to get away with this again? Why didn’t the discipline from last time work? How am I going to get through to him?
I set off to seek the counsel of Godly women who had traveled this road before me. Ha! Let’s be real, I called my friend to rant about what had just happened! She reminded me that she too had discovered dishonesty in her homeschool.
Her child had been cheating on his quizzes and tests. He had been copying verbatim from the answer key onto his work, changing a few answers to make it look believable. Suddenly, I was recalling story after story from fellow homeschoolers who had found their child was not doing the work they said they were doing and/or were cheating on the work that was being completed. My anger subdued.
I began to realize, some of this is my fault too. How could I have let months go by without checking his work? Here’s the really simplified answer: I’m human.
Homeschooling Requires Us To Be Present
I am a homeschool mom of four. I am involved in just as many or more extra-curricular activities than my children, more on that later. We are small business owners. I homeschool four children. I am imperfect and flawed. I run the day to day tasks of my home; I chauffeur everyone; I teach algebra to children that I did not birth; I serve in my community; and did I mention I homeschool four children?
I’m really trying to drive that last point home. Homeschooling requires us to be present. That’s not an easy thing to be in today’s society no matter how many students you have.
I had a brief discussion with the guilty party and ended with a promise of discipline and lengthier discussions, ahem lectures. This child is old enough to understand a delayed consequence, which felt fitting because the offense wasn’t discovered until months after it was committed.
I spent the next few days eating chocolate and mulling over the ordeal.
As I stated previously I played a role in this incident, but that doesn’t excuse the child’s behavior. As his teacher, I have a responsibility to ensure he is doing the work and understanding the work. When I don’t follow through with my portion, the possibility for mishap is increased.
Let’s explore that side of things a little. Perhaps the work is genuinely too difficult, there’s some maturing that needs to take place or there might be gaps in the learning. Especially in a cumulative subject like a language or math we need to ensure that each lesson is mastered before new information is encountered.
That’s not what I was dealing with though. No, my child wasn’t struggling. He simply didn’t want to do the work. He saw an opportunity unfold and he succumbed to the temptation.
Homeschooling Takes Time
Recall earlier how I mentioned I enjoy lots of extra curricular activities? I wasn’t kidding when I said I may be involved in more than my children. I enjoy taking part in lots of things, and I can easily and quickly stretch myself too thin and before long I’ve gone months without checking a subject in school that really needs to be tended to daily.
I need to be honest with myself before saying yes to another project or signing up for another race. Uh-oh! Did you catch that? “I need to be honest…” One of the things I love to hate about homeschooling is the refinement that takes place in me. I am grateful that The Father deems me worthy of purification. But sometimes, just sometimes I wish it was only about somebody else’s mess!
It appears my priorities can shift quickly when I fail to be mindful of my time and God’s calling on my life.
I’ve learned from these experiences, I protect our days better than I did in the past and I have a scheduled meeting with each child daily or weekly depending on age. And don’t you worry about my son, we’re gonna deal with him too! I hope you’ll check back for part two of this story, Instilling Integrity, where I’ll dive into the measures we took to avoid a third bout of this lapse in judgement.
This has been a guest post written by Courtney Day. She has been homeschooling for 9 years and resides in rural Kentucky with her husband and their four children. She is a freelance writer and speaker with a desire to encourage parents in their homeschooling journey by drawing from her own experiences. Her hobbies include gardening, reading, kickboxing and long distance running. You’ll often find her serving at the local food bank or fundraising for a worthy cause, just look for The Girl in Yellow. Contact Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org