Six –Continued (Home Schooling)
Parents should be aware that total home schooling can cause as many problems as it solves. One of the greatest challenges of home schooling is the social factor. Without peers, children can’t learn the necessary skills needed in order to be reintroduced back into the classroom. If parents decide to remove children from school they must be confident that they can create all (not most) of the necessary components. These include: teachers, mentors (they can be the same), friends, patience on the part of the entire family, making sure that the children attend and participate in the home schooling, and the ability to keep the children as busy as they would be if they were in a regular school.
Parents must also keep in mind that once the children are out of a regular school they may become so comfortable that they may not agree to go back. Most parents attempt home schooling as a temporary step, but find that, once the children are home schooled, they do so well that it “doesn’t make sense” to send them back. However, that may be more than the parents can handle. Home schooled children, even with an army of teachers, will require several hours a day from the parents.
In other cases the homeschooling experience turns out to be a failure, but the children, who’ve been home for weeks, refuse to go back to school. In many of these cases the parents, who were so angry at the school, finally realize that it’s the children, and not the school, that’s in need of fixing.
More and more parents are choosing home schooling as a first choice, and not only because their children found regular school difficult. For whatever reason parents want to home school their children, they should network for other like minded parents, and combine their children, financial resources, personal time, and create small groups, in order to make the experiences a success. They also have to be sure that they want the other children to be with their children all day, before agreeing to join forces. (Yeshivas Birchas Eliyohu, which began in a similar manner has grown into a permanent project, offering personal attention and small classes for 11-12 year old boys.). . (There are numerous websites offering support to parents considering home schooling for their children.)
The seventh is that it’s often necessary to try therapy and medicines (although I’m not a fan of medication). If this is done while the children are still young, and with a proper professional team, it may only be necessary for a short time. Using medication should not be rejected without serious thought.
More parents responded to one particular point of this series of articles than to any other. I wrote that, “They tell me stories of a class bully, the Rebbi, principal, or teacher, who responds without listening to the entire story.”
I don’t know the personal circumstances of those parents who responded to this point, but it does give me an opportunity to discuss something that I feel is very important. Every once in a while I write an article which attracts a large amount of positive attention. It always amuses me when the comments are, “My wife really needs to read this” or, “Can I have a copy e-mailed to me. There’s someone to whom I want to send it.”
People reading these articles will, hopefully, absorb its messages and use them the next time they approach similar incidents. However, many people read these articles and use them as opportunities to purge themselves of guilt. They listen to descriptions of bad Rabbeim, or mistakes in school systems, and they feel better. They can now divert blame for their children’s poor performances to another party. It’s even easier when the other party can be the scapegoat, such as “the system”, or a “need for medication”.
Blaming a problem on a third party purges one of guilt. Admitting ones contribution to a problem can be therapeutic for parents and children. In general, I remind people that guilt is intended for two things: It forces us to admit to ourselves that what we did was wrong. (This helps us change our actions when we face similar opportunities.) It makes us aware that we must make amends to the people we may have wronged. Successful people focus on their contributions to problems, unsuccessful people focus on other people’s contributions.
A system or individual can fail others. However, a singular incident, or school year, will generally not destroy children. Destroying children generally requires that they already have a lack of self esteem, a weak support group, or a lack of empathy.
When considering contributing factors for the lack of children’s successes, parents must consider not only what was done wrong, but also what should’ve been done but wasn’t. Parents who’re very busy, and/or parents who lack the ability to connect with their children, may have done nothing wrong, but they’re still guilty of not doing what was necessary. (Remember guilt is about tomorrow, not yesterday.)
Not doing what‘s necessary is usually intangible. Who’s to say how much time parents should spend with their children? Who’s to conclude that parents are too impatient or that children are too difficult? Add to this a tangible failure on the part of the school, or some neighbor’s family, and the parents are able to escape any blame for their children’s lack of success. If the child is the youngest, little needs to be done because there are no more children. Sadly, in many cases it’s older children. An honest assessment on the parent’s part is important, in order to avoid repeating their failures with their younger children.
Children are both rewarding and difficult. The exact proportion depends on every individual child. Despite the huge amount of effort that our younger children may require, the more effort you place into them when they’re young, the less you’ll have to when they’re older. Give them as much attention as they may need, but don’t forget to enjoy them along the way.
Rabbi Shmuel Gluck is director of Areivim, a teen crisis intervention center. R. Gluck’s articles are widely published in the Torah Chinuch world. For previous articles or for speaking engagements you can contact R. Gluck at Areivim: www.areivim.com 845-371-2760 E-mail: email@example.com.
(Rabbi Shmuel Gluck – YWN)