Quoting Quiverfull: Is Homeschooling the Answer to Temper Tantrums?

Quoting Quiverfull: Is Homeschooling the Answer to Temper Tantrums? August 1, 2014

temper tantrumsby Tracy Ventola from Ladies Against Feminism and Alternatives to School (Kerry McDonald) – Why We’re Not Going Back to School in the Fall

From Ladies Against Feminism:

Last fall, we quit formal schooling. We stopped dragging our seven-year-old daughter—kicking and screaming—out of bed each morning. We no longer held our breath each afternoon as we drove up the school’s driveway, where the teacher would hand us a physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted child. A child who held it together all day at school and unraveled as soon as she entered the sanctity of our minivan. That unraveling would take the form of tantrums—screaming, hitting, kicking, and punching at home. Somehow we’d survive the afternoon and early evening, only for our daughter to struggle to fall asleep for hours, tossing and turning in bed. And the torture would begin again the next morning when we’d wake her from a dead sleep and fight the battle required to get her to school by 8:20.

From Alternatives to School:

Before deciding to homeschool, I conducted hundreds of hours of research, during which I met two homeschooling moms whose stories took my breath away.  Both moms had sons who, when in school, had experienced behavioral issues very similar to those of my daughter.  Both mothers vowed that homeschooling was the tantrum solution!  And so, I’d hoped—dreamed!—about the behavioral changes that would occur once we started homeschooling, but what I had not anticipated was how my daughter’s inner light—her natural curiosity and her joy of life and learning—would be rekindled by the slower pace, by the days tailored to her needs and interests.

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders or their followers/enforcers and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

Comments open below

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  • Jessica Lynne Roulston

    As a teacher, this saddens me. Yes, some kids really do better in a nontraditional school environment. It just annoys me that they took one look at the situation and “it’s the schools fault” was the first thing they thought of. Is it possible she needed more time in the morning to wake up, or that there was a problem in her classroom? Did they ever talk to the teacher to see what their daughters day was like in school?

  • centaurie

    Yeah, those were my first few thoughts too. The kid is maybe not a morning person? Parents ignore this and are cranky as a result too? Or something is off with some of the classmates????
    But these people go ‘Oh, it must be the school itself then’ and decide that they are going to solve all the problems in a couple of weeks. Without figuring what was *actually* going on…. *sigh*
    If the kid thrives & does well in a homeschool, kudos for the kid, but stop treating this as a universal solution to that problem! *throws up hands*

  • Mel

    “At the beginning of the year, our girl was not interested in much. She wanted only to stay home. To play in the playroom. To lounge on the couch. To lie in bed, looking at books. I religiously planted seeds all fall. I littered books that might interest her around the house. I told her about new, exciting homeschool classes that were forming. I suggested homeschool park days and games days. Nothing sparked her interest. Nothing. This flat stance would continue through the fall, but in December the most amazing thing happened: the lights came back on! She was interested in everything: learning to read, to skate, to dance, to design and sew clothing, to bake her own recipes. You name it, it interested her! Enough time had passed. She had, in a sense, rebooted her feelings about learning…and about life in general.”

    As a teacher (and a not-parent), I have some big concerns from this paragraph. Is the kid depressed or physically ill? Did we check that? I’d want to be sure my girl was ok before taking such a huge step.

    The child is 7, but the mom is giving the daughter WAY TOO MANY CHOICES. The daughter gets to choose 1) all daily activities 2) whether or not she’ll be in home-school classes 3) whether or not she’ll go to home-schooling activities. I firmly believe kids of all ages deserve the freedom to make choices – but a 7-year-old is NOT an ADULT and treating her as such is a massive disservice.

    Notice the list of things the girl wants to learn. One of them – learning to read – is academic. The others….well….not so much. I’m not against the girl learning all those things and more, but the mom hasn’t actually set up a home-school curriculum that is comparable to a public school. IMO, she’s declaring victory too soon…..

  • Mel

    “Did they ever talk to the teacher to see what their daughters day was like in school?”

    And if she was having such violent temper tantrums at school because if she was she probably needs more help than just a teacher/parent combination could give her.

    The more intriguing (and disturbing) outcome is that the daughter wasn’t having temper tantrums at school. If she wasn’t, what was happening at home that was causing her to react so violently? Was she scared of being at home? Did she need a more structured schedule at home? Did the parents need help with setting up a more effective discipline system – because from the rest of the post, it sounds like the parents abdicated their role as parents…..?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    It boggles my mind that she made no effort to talk to the teacher or even investigate possible solutions on the school end. Silly me, I thought that learning to deal with changing environments and frustration was something you wanted your child to develop.

  • lh

    From the descriptions we get here, I worry about this child’s mental and emotional development. It sounds like the parents literally just threw her out and school and expected everything to be fine. Did they never speak to her teacher to see how she behaved in class all day? Did they never address the school counselor about her behavior problems before and after school? Most teachers are very willing to work with parents and help guide kids in the right direction behaviorally. And counselors are at schools for that very reason – kids need help sometimes!
    Also, a 7-year-old that has trouble sleeping – that sounds like something that needs to be addressed by a doctor. Could it be this child has some kind of emotional fear of abandonment that causes her to fear being left at school, or unable to relax into sleep? My niece suffered through a problem like that after my brother-in-law had a very bad wreck one night and she had to be woken up to go to the hospital. She wasn’t old enough to consciously remember it but it affected her sleep to the point of her having night terrors which she still occasionally gets now, years later. The fear of bad dreams keeps her awake, which makes her tired in the morning, which makes her behavior erratic and unpredictable.
    I feel like the parents here are just blaming the school when there could be so much more to it.

  • That_Susan

    While I do think it’s the parents’ responsibility to provide their children with a variety of materials and options to choose from, I also agree with allowing the children the space to choose. I don’t see this as treating a child as an adult — but, rather, as treating a human as another human who is not me.

    My older daughter, who is now fourteen and has been thriving within the structured atmosphere of public school for a year, actually used to reject homeschool classes that were too structured and not play-based enough for her liking when she was younger. Allowing her the space to do this has in no way interfered with her ability to buckle down and adjust to a structured routine now that this is what she wants.

    That said, I’ve also become aware of many mistakes I’ve made in my parenting, and I agree with you that when our children are young, it’s too early for us to declare victory.

    And even when they’re grown, their successes will be their successes, not mine. While I’ll be very happy to see them happy, I don’t think I’ll ever assume that their happiness is due to my being such an awesome parent.

    Oh, and since tantrums were a regular part of our lives when our girls were small (and both homeschooling), I certainly don’t see homeschooling as the cure for that. But I will say that we were rather the oddity among the conservative Christian homeschooling community that we were initially a part of, which we left soon after a friend there advised me that my life would be so much easier if I’d read “To Train Up a Child” as she was doing.

    In the secular group that we then joined and are still a part of, we didn’t stand out as such an oddity. It was nice to see other moms gently dealing with meltdowns, and nobody looking disapproving or acting like it was a big deal. It IS weird that conservative Christian homeschool kids seem a lot less likely than other kids to display any kind of negative behavior in public, but I have a feeling that the negative emotions still occur in some layer of their psyches.

  • Jessica Lynne Roulston

    Yeah, that was my thought as well. I’ve worked with some “much younger” kids who would throw horrible fits on the way to daycare, but the second mom left they were just fine.
    Sometimes it can be because Mom and Dad wake the kid up 10-15 minutes before it’s time to go, so the child feels stressed out and rushed. They have nothing else to compare it to, they just know it makes them upset, so they lash out.
    There can be so many causes for temper tantrums, some are easy to fix, and some feel impossible to even understand let alone fix. I really hope that in this case Mom and Dad looked into the easy fixes before going for homeschooling.

  • texcee

    The first thing I’d do would be to have my child tested for ADHD. In fact, when my daughter was this age, we did, at the recommendation of her second grade teacher. Our daughter was exceptionally bright, but was doing poorly in school. Turns out she was a classic case and she was put on Ritalin. It was like night and day. Her diagnoses didn’t surprise me because I knew from the time she was a tiny baby that she was hyperactive. Her pediatrician disagreed with me, but I knew something wasn’t “right” with this child. She outgrew the need for the meds at puberty, but she wouldn’t have gotten through elementary school if we hadn’t been proactive about this. Homeschooling would only have made things worse. ADHD is a physiological disorder. Prayer and fasting won’t cure it.

  • gimpi1

    “… how my daughter’s inner light—her natural curiosity and her joy of life and learning—would be rekindled by the slower pace, by the days tailored to her needs and interests.”

    Some of this is fine. However, at some point, kids truly do need to learn that the world isn’t all about them, and that they must often adapt to others. Having worked with a couple of people who were home-schooled in the past, both had trouble adapting to a world with mandated standards like punctuality, dress codes, performance reviews and assigned groups. I hope this mother will consider all her daughter’s educational needs, not just her current ones.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    When it comes to homeschooling, it can either be done exceptionally well or exceptionally bad from my perspective. I’ve had limited personal interaction with homeschooling alumni; two followed a school-district suggested curriculum, finished high school early with additional credits that were applied to their university requirements, one is barely into her 20’s working as an RN as she finishes her masters, the other has two bachelors (Chemistry, Engineering) and a masters in engineering tech something or other and works for JPL. Then there are the other 4 (5 if you include the person who only was in homeschooling for the last 2 years of high school) who haven’t fared nearly as well; one of the 4 has finally decided to go back to school and will be taking classes in community college this Fall because they’re tired of working multiple part time jobs for low wages, two are in their 40’s living with their parents and doing nothing with their lives except mooch (never got a drivers license, never married, one didn’t even finish high school, they don’t have bank accounts or work), and one is an alcoholic. I’m not saying that my experience with those who have done homeschooling is typical – in fact I hope it’s NOT typical – but it really does appear to require so many factors in order to have a good outcome.

  • Levedi

    It doesn’t sound to me like she has a curriculum at all. And I think this is a possible clue to why the tantruming was happening at home and not at school. School is structured and reliable. School life is pretty predictable. If the girl’s home life is chaotic and open ended, she may deal with that by throwing tantrums because she’s overwhelmed on a sensory and emotional level without being taught self-regulation at home. My mom is a former homeschooler who kept up her teacher credentials and went back to teaching after her kids were grown. She sees this a lot! Kids come in hassled, chaotic, and already riled up from a crazy, hectic morning where their totally normal “I don’t want to go to school” was treated as a huge crisis by mom and dad – five minutes with my mom and they’re happily participating in class activities. Then they go home and freak out all evening because life at home is crazy or too demanding or just because their tantrums get results. Occasionally a parent will listen to her when she says “make morning as simple and un-rushed as possible. Don’t let the tantrum get fueled by your panic. Give the kids some time to relax and breathe after school. Of course they’re tired after a long day of class. Make house rules simple and be calm and consistent about them.” And wonder of wonders, the kids often get better!

    Of course, it’s also possible this girl has a serious condition like ODD or borderline personality disorder. Sometimes kids like that trigger more easily in one setting than another.

  • Brennan

    I dunno. The mother’s explanation for the behavior seems like a plausible one, though it’s certainly not the only possibility just as homeschooling is far from the only solution. My younger sister reacted in similar ways–she would have conflict with her friends (and “friends”) at school, hold herself together, and then lash out at everyone and everything once she got home.

  • Astrin Ymris

    When I was doing home day care with my mom, we had a kid who cried in the mornings when her parents dropped her off and also in the afternoon when they came to pick her up.

    She was fine the rest of the time– she just didn’t do transitions well.

  • Evelyn

    My son would save it all up during preschool and then unleash the inner monster on me as we walked home. I quickly learned to stop at a local playground on the way so he could run it off.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    It sort of sounds like the kid spent the Fall just lounging punctuated with playtime in the playroom and then finally got bored in December. Then she got to pick and choose everything that she would be doing and other than reading where’s the academic part of home SCHOOL?

  • Interestingly, this is not about religious homeschooling, but alternatives. My sister did this kind of homeschooling, and turned out 3 very well educated individuals. They had a superior education, are fluent in French (spent 3 months in Paris), spent time in Scotland. My oldest niece went to Kenya to document war crimes in the refugee camps before returning home to work for her mother, who now has 3 restaurants. She is a graduate of Rhodes College. Her sister recently graduated from FIT in NYC. Their brother is an EMT.

    I hated school. I still have nightmares about it, all these years later. If something like this was available to me, I would have wanted it. There is a huge difference between very creative homeschooling & unschooling, and being raised in a cult. I can honestly say that, if I had children, because of the trauma I went through in school, the beatings, the abuse, the molestation, I would never allow them to go to school. I come from the other end of the spectrum. I would never submit a child of mine to public schooling.

  • Jenny Islander

    No, homeschooling is the answer to pedagogical issues that other available methods of schooling are not able to address. In my homeschooled daughter’s case, an elimination diet that identified what we had thought was an innocuous dye in a “healthy” alternative to soda was the answer to temper tantrums. We cut out everything with the dye in it and within a week she seemed like a whole new person. Also the terrifying asthma-like episodes went away.

  • jzzy55

    The sleep issues are a Big Red Flag. This kid has some kinds of issue — neurological, psychological, biological — something (I’m a SPED teacher). Moving her to a homeschooling environment is not a bad idea, but I wouldn’t blame school. It may well be a fine environment for 90% of the kids there. No size fits all.