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When the First Day Goes Badly

By Kyndra Steinmann

I see all the pictures in my newsfeed of happily smiling children getting ready for school. Of homeschool classrooms filled with busy play, or diligent workers. I smile because we’ve had those first days of school, just not this year.

This year we had:

  • Tears from the sixth grader.
  • Tears from the fifth grader.
  • Tears from the second grader.
  • A toddler who thought that climbing up and drawing on the blackboard in the middle of lessons was great fun.
  • A second grader who thought that throwing Cuisenaire Rods at his sister might be amusing.
  • Two declarations that people weren’t going to try anymore.

And a mom who had a great opportunity to practice being loving and kind in the midst of adversity!

Sheesh! Yes, the first day goes badly.

I hope this is like a bad dress rehearsal, which is supposed to mean that the actual show is great!

Why the First Day Goes Badly

I could blame the issues on all kinds of things: a major change in the way we go through our day, a somewhat chaotic summer due to a major house project, certain children not liking change of any kind and reacting badly to it, and a host of other excuses. Mostly, though, I think there isn’t really any blame besides a household full of people whose sinful natures are still being redeemed.

The tears came when children didn’t want to listen to instructions or hear how they needed to fix something. They came when the teacher was busy with another student and asked them to wait a minute. They came because all of us are self-centered and desire most to satisfy ourselves immediately.

We don’t want to work. We don’t want to struggle. And we REALLY don’t want to hear that we need to try harder or do better. It cuts against our pride, and our pride reacts with anger.

I wish I could say that I did or said something that turned the day around. I tried, but angry hearts aren’t ready for reason or inspiration, so my words didn’t do much. In the end I had to simply hold the line. To calmly and firmly enforce the expectations that the children already know. To insist that they do good work, sweetly, without arguing or pouting. That’s hard work. It takes copious amounts of grace, plenty of prayer, and a fair bit of maternal stubbornness!

Today, I had those things. Today, I rested in the grace given and held the line. And tomorrow?

Tomorrow I hope to be posting lovely pictures of the second day of school.

But if not, I am determined to seize again the grace offered me, to parent and teach with loving kindness.

Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Like this article? Read more about homeschool problems here.

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