Tears (for Years) - August 18, 2022 | Kids Out and About Fairfield County, CT

Tears (for Years)

August 18, 2022

Debra Ross

When my family embarked on the Great Homeschooling Adventure well over a decade ago, I had high expectations for the day-to-day experience: After all, I liked teaching people stuff and I liked being with my kids. Plus I only had two to educate, which meant I could pay attention to their individual needs and learning styles, and accommodate those as no teacher in a more populated classroom could. Easy-peasy, right?

I was prepared for hard work and creativity. I was unprepared for all of the crying.

It's one of the secrets the glossy magazines don't tell you: There IS crying in homeschooling, a startling amount of it. These days, it's practically the first thing I tell prospective homeschooling parents (and there have been lots more of them since March of 2020): Practicing focus, gathering facts, solving puzzles, and developing skills can be frustrating! When kids are out in the world, the natural inhibitions that keep them from bursting into tears around teachers or peers are up in full force, but the more relaxed atmosphere of home removes those psychological barriers. And it's not limited to the very young; it continues right on through to... well, I'll tell you if it stops someday.

Of course, this is in no way a homeschool-specific phenomenon. KOAA's communications director, Katie Beltramo, created and printed the sign on the right as a way of validating for her kids that learning can be hard, and that crying is a normal and honest reaction to stress rather than something that should cause shame. Excessive or manipulative sobbing can be signs of a more serious problem, but absent that, crying in a safe place can provide the release that lets us regroup and push ahead.

The more comfortable they are around you, the more opportunities there will be to support your kids when they're frustrated. So the key, for the parent, is not to mind the tears, whether from a toddler or a teen. The beginning of the school year can be a challenging time of adjustment. So when frustration kicks its way in, tell your kids it's perfectly safe and fine to let it all out. Then help them pick up, dust off, and start over.