02 03 Gallimaufry Grove: Do You Over-Correct Your Homeschool Students? 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Do You Over-Correct Your Homeschool Students?


I recently read an article (name and source removed to protect the author, because I am about to slam her).  Apparently this particular lady is an English teacher.  She is also a mom.  No problem so far.  I get that.  As a homeschooler, I regularly need to juggle the hats of teacher vs. mom.

As an English teacher, grammar is important to this author.  Very important.  So important in fact, that she struggles not to correct the little love letters her children write to her.  Why?  Because they are not perfectly written.  She seems to miss the heart behind the note because she is overly focused on the mechanics.  Here is a direct quote from the article:

I have a note at my desk from my (then) first-grade daughter. It reads 
        Dear, Mom        I ♥ you.        , Love        Margaret .S 

Can you guess what her class was studying? Yep. Letter form and abbreviations. And while my first reaction might have been to grab my red pen, I took a deep breath and said, "Perfect capitalization! Flawless spacing! All the right punctuation marks!" And only later, "Let's talk about where punctuation marks go."
I can't even begin to comment on this.  When I first read this article, I was flabbergasted.  I had to set the article aside.  I was sure I had misread the content of the article somehow.  Surely the author's first reaction was not to correct the love letter from her young child.  Surely she told her daughter how glad she was to have her as her child, rather than comment on the mechanics of the letter.  Surely, as a mom, her heart melted into a puddle and she grabbed her little girl in a bear hug.  Please, tell me she did.

Sigh...  I read the whole article again.  No.  Not only did she have to rein in her red pen, she does not appear to ever have seen this letter as anything but proof that her child's imperfect grammar needed to be corrected.  

This is a case of a teacher who doesn't know how to unhook and just be a mom.  This educator has lost sight of the heart of the child in her efforts to train the mind of the child.

So why do I bring this up, you ask?  Because I see homeschool moms do the same thing, sometimes.  They get so caught up in making sure that Jr. is academically advanced that they forget that Jr. needs more than a teacher.  He needs a mom.

Sometimes I think that homeschool moms care so much about their children's future that they push too hard.  They forget to let their children be kids.  Sometimes I think the root of this behavior is a case of insecurity and pride.  I mean, if Junior does well in life, it validates the homeschool mom as a teacher.  But if Junior struggles?  That can be tough on a homeschool mom's ego.  

The reality is that Junior very likely would have had the same strengths and weaknesses regardless of where he went to school.  Ask any public school teacher.  They will tell you that their classes are a mix of star students, struggling students and everything in between.  The difference is that the public school teacher can look across her class and know that her methods are working well for most of her students.  There will always be stragglers who need more attention.  That's just part of teaching.  The homeschooling mom, however, only has Junior to gage her teaching success.  If he struggles, it plays into her insecurities as a teacher.  She feels like a failure.  Junior MUST succeed.  Pour on the pressure, please.

Those pressures don't stop with the homeschooling mom, either.  If she isn't careful, she will put that pressure on her kids to perform.  And when she does, she will completely miss the beautiful moments of just being a mom to her kids.  Sure, a child needs a teacher, but he craves a mom.

There are some things that should never be corrected, in my opinion.  Your child needs to feel emotionally safe enough to express himself.  If you correct some things, your child will simply withdraw.  It just isn't worth the pain to have his deepest emotions struck with a red pen or a corrective comment.  What would be viewed as constructive criticism on a George Washington report suddenly becomes very destructive when applied to a love letter, diary or personal journal.  Don't touch them with anything but understanding and compassion.

Very early in our family's educational journey, I saw that I had the power to destroy my kids' desire to learn simply by being too hard -- by requiring too much and in the wrong areas.  I do not correct my children's journals, diaries and personal letters for spelling, grammar or even for clarity.  And I do not correct their sweet notes to me.  Ever.  Those things are just too personal to bear my red pen.  Correcting those things is a good way to make sure my kids never feel safe to write again, or maybe even express themselves at all.  I correct school assigned spelling, grammar and writing lessons knowing that eventually what they learn in their lessons will trickle into their journals and letters.  And honestly, I find the grammatical and spelling mistakes in their early journals and letters to be endearing, not annoying.

Hug your kiddos.  Let them fail sometimes.  Accept the fact that your child probably won't be perfect in every single area.  They might turn out to be human.  And for heaven's sake, don't correct their love notes!

Have a great day!


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