Ahhh, tweens. That lovely age of not yet being a teenager, not quite still a child. My daughter is plowing through her fifth grade homeschool curriculum, and is fully in the throes of entering “tweenhood.” If that isn’t a word yet, it should be. We go from sweet happy child one day to moody contrary tween the next. When you add homeschooling into that interesting mix, it can be a bit difficult to navigate. I’ve found this year to be, in many ways, our most challenging homeschool year yet, but the challenges have absolutely nothing to do with the actual homeschooling. It’s all in the growing and changing of my fifth grade daughter.
When first considering homeschooling, and eventually deciding to do it, I never considered the many ways the passing years could affect the way we homeschool. But I’ve learned that to be the case. Back when my daughter was in first or second grade, I can remember her coming cheerfully to the table and doing her work, and the only waves we encountered were when she couldn’t master a topic. But giggles and smiles were the order of the day. It was a sweet time.
Now, things are a bit different. I wouldn’t say she’s sullen, but what I would say is that moods play more of a role in our day than they ever did. She is still a pleasant, agreeable girl; I’m fairly certain she always will be. It’s just her nature. But there are days when I find her practically in tears or scowling down at her paper. Fearing the worst, I will ask her what is wrong, and it could be anything from her pet rabbit that died three years ago to something one of her friends said just the day before. Obviously, these things are very real and important to her, so even though schoolwork must be completed, it can’t be while she’s in the storm of these emotional ups and downs.
So we stop. When she needs to, the schoolwork goes away, and we work on her. We talk, and I let her open up, and through it all I hope she’s coming to learn that she can always, always talk to me about anything. And yes, some weeks we end up falling behind where I wanted to be with the schoolwork, but I think in the end what she’s gained is more important: the knowledge that her mom will always be there when she needs a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.