NORMAN — Q: I homeschool my two children, ages 7 and 9. The school day lasts from 8:30 in the morning until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, after which they usually do homework for an hour or two.
During homework time, they are constantly coming to me, asking me to go over material we’ve already covered during school. This is preventing me from getting my own work done. I find myself being frequently interrupted and have to admit I’ve lost it on a couple of occasions. What should I do?
A: You should tell your children that after 2 o’clock in the afternoon you are no longer their teacher — you’re their mother and you don’t intend to reteach material you taught during school.
Look at it this way: If they were attending “regular” school, they wouldn’t have access to their teacher(s) after school hours. Likewise, in your homeschooling situation, they shouldn’t be able to have “teacher” on demand after school hours. As things stands, they don’t have to give you their full attention during the school day.
Furthermore, you’ve given them permission to come to you any time they experience the slightest amount of frustration concerning homework. That circumvents the development of perseverance, which, as you will recall, is one of Homework’s Seven Hidden Values.
Under the circumstances, the effectiveness of homeschooling is significantly reduced and your stress level is significantly increased. If you don’t put an end to this, you’re going to continue to have periodic cerebral meltdowns.
This is a mother-child boundaries issue, as are many if not most contemporary parenting issues. Instead of you being in control of whether, at any given time, you are in the role of mother or teacher, you’re allowing your children to make that determination.