Hard Questions About Homeschooling (Part Five) – “I CAN’T CONTROL MY KID!!” (Part I)

This is the fifth article in a series answering hard questions dealing with homeschooling.

In article one, we made a brief list of major concerns and objections one might encounter to homeschooling. Let’s take up the fifth point on that list now.

– Some children may be a handful for the family to “handle”.

This is not a simple problem. In fact, it probably ranks as the most difficult problem a parent can have with a child. There are some essential truths to be confronted regarding our children. I feel reasonably confident in these truths, having watched and taught children for nearly 40 years, and having at one time, in some distant and forgotten age, been a child myself.

Truth # 1 – Every child is different, and this is a good thing.

There are many reasons that each child is unique. First and foremost, each child is born with unique strengths and weaknesses. You may attribute these skills and shortcomings as you see fit – the will of God, heredity, whatever. The fact remains that each child is different, and this presents an insurmountable problem to the person who wishes to make a living advising parents regarding their children. Since no two children are precisely the same, then no single piece of advice is going to exactly solve the issues presented by two or more children.

Your child is unique. There’s no one like him or her. I realize that every parent sees their child as “special”, and I am inclined to agree. Every child is special, and that is so regardless of which definition of “special” you are using – 1) Unique or different than all others, or 2) Wonderful.

Those of you with several children (I have two) know that even though they were all raised in your household, and often have been provided the same opportunities and experiences – each child is simply special (different). We may share the same experiences as others, but we each respond to those experiences uniquely. I’ve seen identical twins with dramatically differing interests and responses to the world, twins raised in the same house by the same parents, sent to the same schools, you name it.

What does this mean to those parents with a “problematic child”? It means that what works for another person’s child may not work, and in fact is likely not to work, in an effort to control or manipulate one’s own. Your child will not react to an approach in the same way that another child does.

This uniqueness and difficulty to handle is (in the long run) a good thing. I know some of you are moaning, rolling your eyes. However it IS a good and a necessary thing if our civilization and species are to survive.

History books are nothing but tales of different people who were allowed to grow up and express themselves in the world. Great artists, religious leaders, politicians and soldiers, inventors and philosophers all had amazing contributions to make BECAUSE THEY WERE DIFFERENT FROM EVERYONE ELSE.

Does anyone really think that a guy like Socrates, a man willing to die just to be right and to stand for the truth – was easy to raise? Imagine his poor parents as they listened in to his all too honest explanations of why he had to beat up Billy next door. (Or was that Billicus? Billicles?) Imagine him explaining to his own teacher why he (the teacher) is wrong about, oh, name a subject, simply because Socrates has observed the world more thoroughly than his teacher. Would young master Socrates take the quiet and “smart” route and shut his mouth when he had discovered others wrong? No way. You can just hear him engaging in debate with his elders, forcing them to think and look and reconsider, and to wonder why they were not killing this obnoxious child!

And how about Bill Shakespeare? Does anyone think he was a quiet lad? An old ham like sweet William? Could it be that he had little to say, and listened calmly? The man who would give titanic birth to Hamlet and Othello, as a good little student? Not bloody likely. Not with that imagination!

Think Caesar’s mom could tell him what to do, even once? How about Genghis Khan’s Mom, or Napoleon’s, think they had much luck with their little world conquerors? How about Einstein, a boy staring at beams of light and dreaming of hitching a ride on one? Think he was a piece of cake? Imagine the restless questions he must have asked his folks, certainly not the common garden variety “mom, why is the sky blue”.

People who are capable of great achievement are restless. They’re dreamers. Often, they’re gifted in ways that the rest of the world, especially “experts” do not understand. Some great people have been branded through the years as “uneducatable”, such as Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Alva Edison. Think the experts got it right?

People capable of changing the world, as a great religious or political leader does, are not followers. They do not sit easily or well in class. They do not always (or often) do as they’re told. They often do not like to be told what to do or think.

The survival of our species absolutely depends on this uniqueness in each of us, this special quality. Nature loves big numbers and differences. Consider the tens of millions of species of living creatures on Earth, if you’re not certain. One guarantee of survival is a large population. Another is the unique gifts individual members of a species provide their entire species.

I’m not advocating for run-amok children being allowed to plow the kid at the next desk into the ground, or to blow up the chem. lab. I’m not a fan of physical abuse when it is inflicted by either adults or children, and I personally saw to it that a few physically abusive children were kicked out of schools. of course, one wonders where those children got their ideas, and one considers their parents and the environment they were being raised in, and one frowns at the appalling levels of violence such kids are exposed to in games, movies, TV, you name it. Still, adults have a duty to keep their own children safe, and that includes safe from bullies.

Nonetheless, if someone is telling you that special Is “bad” and “normal” is “good”, they are lying. Such lies are usually born out of self-interest. Most teachers would love it if they could have a classroom filled with quiet, tractable children. Why, a classroom filled with brain-dead, barely responsive and politely identical children would be…um…er…great. Right, teachers? (I dislike most teachers enormously, as you know.) Hence, bad teachers wield certain tools to “equalize” and control their students, tools like grades, tests, iron-clad schedules, seating charts (in as opposed to recognizing a student by his or her individuality), and the worst of it, evaluations. They often recommend that “difficult” children be removed from the “group”, placed in remedial programs, or sent to a psychologist who might prescribe some “helpful drug”. They often imply that a child is “different” because of something “wrong” that mom or dad did.

But “different” is the stuff of survival and great achievement. Different is good. Special is good. More to follow next article.

As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

19 comments for “Hard Questions About Homeschooling (Part Five) – “I CAN’T CONTROL MY KID!!” (Part I)

  1. Michelle Carson
    September 19, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thank you Steven, for reminding me why I’ve chosen to homeschool my “special” son, especially today when all I wanted to was throttle him for being completely obnoxious about doing his CTT lessons. I don’t have any solutions — I just keep plugging away and reminding myself that he did get toilet trained, he learned to tie his shoes and he learned to read. I think that, as parent, yu just keep going and hope it’ll turn out okay. And maybe get someone like Einstein, Edison, or Twain. Hopefully not Genghis Khan!! Thanks for all you do for all of homeschooling parents.

  2. September 20, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Hi Michelle,

    Still laughing after reading your comment. I appreciate it. Yup, hang in there. When you read some of the nasty things that Einstein’s teachers, or Twain’s teachers, said about them, (words like “hopeless student” come to mind”) and remember that geniuses like Edison and Twain had almost no school at all, you have to find some encouragement there. Thanks again for the kind words!

  3. September 28, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Your comments about the uniqueness of our children is right on. This one truth turned out to be the greatest point of growth for me in the 20 years I’ve home schooled. I learn easily. I buy a book, study it and practice it. Early on in my parenting I bought countless “how-to” parent books and still felt out of control trying to find a “method” to control my children. Finally, the Lord Jesus, showed me parenting is all about love, which includes justice and discipline and that these abilities would stem from my own humbleness and weakness and his strength. I still wanted my children to be controlled but I learned their hearts are controlled by God. I started focusing on training I could accomplish and I prayed more and more since God had to be the ruler of their hearts.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. September 28, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Hi Ali,

    However one arrives at it, we must treat our children as individuals, not as objects to be “controlled”. And I do agree that parenting is largely about love…and patience. It’s also about the “long game”, keeping in mind that a day isn’t a life. Whatever a child is going through (or their mom and dad) today will not be what they are going through a year from now, and is pretty unlikely to have a long and lasting impression on their life unless they are creating destructive and highly repetitive habits (such as playing video games). Our jobs as parents include keeping our children safe and well, and providing them exposure to as many subjects and ideas as possible – and then allowing the child to select what interests them, and at that point, doing whatever we can to support and encourage their interests. In this way, we help build a generation who will actually select and love what they do. Thanks for writing.

  5. October 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful post that reminds me of why I home school and what’s really important. I agree.. all children are special. They have their own unique personalities and ways they look at life and the world around them. This couldn’t have come on a more perfect day. Today was very challenging with one child in particular and your article set me at ease. It helped me see things in another perspective and to remember, that I was a child once too and that he is a curious child exploring the world around him.

  6. October 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Thanks for reading it! And thanks for sharing your response, one that is along the lines I always hope for when I write. Tell your friends, please, we could use a lot more readers.

  7. tamyra murray
    October 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Oh Thank you !! It is what I see in my son and what his past teachers “labeled” and tried to push him into a mold. I saw my son as more than a mold a one of a kind. That is how we ended up here and homeschooling.

  8. October 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    You are welcome, and thanks for homeschooling! It’s the very best way to protect a child from that sort of labeling. Well done!

  9. January 25, 2012 at 4:57 am

    And I thought I was the only one that thought my child might be destined for a bad end due to his orneriness! I must confess that even the word “prison” has come into my mind at times. But as I look closer at him and really “see” him, I know that the things that irritate me about him CAN be a blessing in his life if put to good use. Thanks for sharing. I feel better now!

    • November 12, 2012 at 6:55 am

      You see him better than anyone outside your family. Make sure he has goals, and that he has every opportunity to follow after them. Having an achievable purpose in life can make all the difference in a life. Thanks for sharing!

  10. November 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Thanks for these tips. great tips that teachers and parents must understand and remember.Thanks a lot for sharing this.

    • November 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

      My pleasure! I write these blogs hoping they will be of use to others. Thanks for the kind words.

  11. April 23, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Steven, thank you for writing this! I have been trying to help people understand for years that their children are individuals and it’s wonderful they are independent and different from others. I try to get them to see the uniqueness of each child and learn from their child’s differences. Each of us has a role to play in humanity and we cannot contribute to the whole without being different.

    Today I have people come to me for advice about their child who won’t conform. I tell them that’s great and help them see the advantages their child has. Each child has something to give and if we examine the circumstances we can usually understand the child’s pespectivce. Knowing his perspective will enable us to help guide his energy to fulfill his dreams in a way that contributes to society.

    I remember when I sent my little children to preschool before homeschooling. One of their teachers would chastise me for sending salad or pasta for lunch instead of the usual sandwich and fruit. They told me I was teaching my kids to be different and that would make it difficult for them later on in life. My response was they are already different because I’m their mother. I got irritated at this. Why did it matter if my kids were sitting at the table eating a salad or a sandwich? The teacher didn’t wash the container and my kids got out their own lunch unassisted. It was even helpful to the teacher because she didn’t have to slice the fruit for them. If we were ants I could understand their point, but we’re people. We’re born different from each other. But, they insisted, it was teaching the other kids they could be different and that’s the real problem. The following year I was home schooling.

    My kids are different from others and I’m happy they are different because I learn so much from them.

    • April 23, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      Hi, Shoshana,

      We are in complete agreement on this, and I thank you for writing! Differences should be celebrated, not eradicated. Keep walking the road you’re on and you’ll have wonderful adults to give to the world. Well done!

  12. June 12, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I have been having difficult time with my three and half old son. He’s very busy, but really loves to learn and is always very eager. It’s been a journey teaching him here at home, right now I am just focusing on his strengths and helping him in different areas. He was a late bloomer when it came to communication. So right now he’s getting better and I have been working with him to help enhance his communication skills. Thanks for these great posts to just remind me that my child is not like every other child, he is unique in his own way! 🙂

    • June 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Reina,

      I think we’re pretty quick as a culture to judge the “progress” of young children against some fictional “standard.” It’s destructive and ridiculous. I didn’t learn to read until I was seven, and then, fortunately, I had a teacher who did not use phonics, but instead taught me using word identification. By the end of that year, I tested out at reading over 1,000 words a minute. So a kid will NOT know a thing until he DOES know it, and the age at which it is learned is not important, so long as they put it all together by the time they truly need to know. Your son is not like anyone else. Watch how his communication skills evolve over the next year! We need to remember that these are very young children we’re discussing, that each has relative interests, strengths and weaknesses, and that NO ONE IS IN A POSITION TO EVALUATE WHAT THEY WILL BECOME. Ask any long-term parent. They will almost always tell you that their children grew up to be things they never dreamed they’d become when the child was very young. Hang in there and enjoy the ride, there’s little in life more creative or interesting than watching a child bloom.

      • June 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm

        Thanks Steven. My aunt told me that he may need some type of Therapy to enhance his speech development. I started to worry about it, and it was insane but like a week later he improved tremendously. I just work with him here at home. I use flashcards, and I label stuff around the house. We also practice communicating back and forth. It’s been an amazing experience and I look forward to teaching him more as he grows.

  13. Michelle T
    October 4, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I’m going to chime in on this WAY after the fact… but thank you so much. My son is about to turn four and we’ve been agonizing about what to do with his education. He’s smart as a whip, obsesses on things until he has them memorized like books, even though he can’t read, figures things out, takes EVERYTHING apart to see how it works, etc. But, he’s very emotionally immature and it takes a lot to help him through his feelings. He also doesn’t care for being told to do things and will do much better when we make it a game or a challenge. I cannot envision a teacher with 15-25 other students to worry about being able to take the time, but I was doubting myself about being able to handle him emotionally either. This article really lifted my spirits! Thank you so much.

    • October 5, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Hi Michelle, You are VERY welcome.You can do this, and in fact, you are probably the best person for the job. You know your son far better than any teacher ever will. You know his strengths and challenges, and how to help him along that road. Well done!

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