How Homeschooling Is Like Having a New Puppy


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For the last few weeks, we’ve been rather obsessed with Brianna’s new puppy, Belle. While taking her out for the millionth time a week or so ago, I started thinking about the similarities between homeschooling and new puppies. Because, you know, homeschooling is my other obsession.

So, just for fun, here’s my take on how homeschooling is like having a new puppy.

It doesn’t take long for the excitement to wear off and for you to realize that it’s a lot of work.

Puppies are cute but, y’all, they’re a lot of work. We have two senior dogs. They sleep most of the day, and when they’re awake, they go out by themselves in our fenced back yard, and they occupy themselves in ways that don’t result in ruined shoes or furniture. I’d forgotten how much work puppies are.

Homeschooling is like that. Before you start, you may feel overwhelmed and nervous, but somewhere in there you have this idyllic mental image that doesn’t include bad attitudes, poor curriculum choices, or dyslexia. Even when everything is going great, homeschooling is still a lot of work – important, rewarding, enjoyable work, but work nonetheless.

The intense days will be rewarded.

Those intense, hard-work days will be rewarded. Sometime in the (hopefully not too distant) future, the puppy days will get easier. Belle will start going out into the fenced yard with the big dogs. She’ll start sleeping all night – or find something to do with her awake time besides bite Brianna’s face to try to wake her up to play.

Homeschooling is like that. Those early years are very teacher-intensive, but before you know it, your kids are reading on their own and working independently. You move from teacher to facilitator/guidance counselor/taxi service – and before too long you’re not even the taxi service. {insert happy dance}

Sometimes you have to put up with a lot of crap.

Puppies and house-breaking. Need I say more?

Homeschooling comes with its own kind of crap. You may have friends, relatives, and strangers on the Internet or in the grocery store telling you that you’re ruining your kids. Sometimes it’s even other homeschoolers criticizing the way you’re doing things.

It’s not always about being fun, but being consistent.

New puppies are a lot of fun, but sometimes the things that are cute when they’re puppies won’t be cute when they’re full-grown dogs.

Although our new puppy is Brianna’s dog, the whole family has talked about what commands we’re using with her and what the expectations are for certain situations because we know she’ll learn quicker if we’re all being consistent.

Homeschooling is like that, too. Drilling multiplication tables is boring. Learning grammar rules isn’t the most exciting. Practicing handwriting can be monotonous.

Sometimes, as homeschooling parents, we seem to feel as though it’s our job to constantly entertain our students. I’m all about making homeschool as fun as possible, but I’m not my kids’ entertainment coordinator. Sometimes you just have to work consistently at things because that’s what brings results.

Everyone learns at their own pace.

I have never had a dog learn as quickly as Belle. Within two weeks, she was whining at the door to go out and was well on her way to being housebroken. She sits on command and understands stay and come. (We’re still working on consistency.)

Does that mean she’s an “advanced” puppy or that my other dogs have been slow learners? Or maybe some of my dogs have been “behind” in sitting? Of course not.

Homeschooling is like that, too. Some kids will pick up certain skills more quickly than others. While some kids do struggle with legitimate learning challenges, such as dyslexia or dysgraphia, I think every child who is met where he is and taught with consistency is capable of reaching his full potential.

It’s important not to compare your student to others, but to compare where he is now to where he was so that you have an accurate view of his personal progress.

There will be sleepless nights.

Oh, the magnitude of the sounds that can come from such a little puppy at night. When you first bring home a new puppy, there will be sleepless nights.

When you homeschool, there will also be sleepless nights – and not just at first. The worry ebbs and flows, but even veteran homeschooling parents experience worry-induced insomnia. You wonder if you’re doing this right, if you’ve missed something important, or if your kids are going to resent being homeschooled.

Thankfully, those nights are few and far between, and most of the time the worry turns out to be unfounded.

Have you had a new puppy or kitten (or baby) recently? Did you observe any other fun (or not-so-fun) similarities between that experience and homeschooling?

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10 Comments

  1. I never thought of it this way before, but you are so right. This reminded me of when our cat had a litter of kittens a couple of years ago. They were so adorable, but then came the high pitched meows all night, the constant mischief and mess, and even heartbreak when one of them passed away. Homeschooling IS like all of that (although, hopefully, the heartbreak stems from something less tragic). You always have such an interesting way of looking at things!

  2. Oh I love this so much! She’s an adorable puppy. It is A LOT of work! My schedule is completely thrown off since we got our puppy. Trying to go with the flow, but ahhhh! LOL Here’s to more puppy kisses in 2017! <3

  3. Ha ha – love it! She is VERY cute. 🙂 I totally know what you mean. We got a new kitten (Archimedes!) a few months ago. I thought he’d be a doddle compared with the puppies we’d had but OH MY has he been high maintenance! Our best strategy has been to have a huge pile of empty Amazon boxes with tinkly balls hidden in for him to play with – necessary if we’re to have any peace to do maths!

  4. This is one of the best comparisons I have ever heard on homeschooling. It is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. But I do see the end and the benefits finally.

  5. Oh, and sometimes in the middle of it all (and perhaps because of all the chaos), you look into those puppy eyes and just gush love despite the hole in the couch and the half shoe and the piddle by the door. And homeschooling is kind of like that, too. Complete with piddle by the door, because the puppy is part of the homeschooling, too. 🙂

  6. You are so right, and how timely! Thank you! Our ordinarily healthy puppy, almost four months old, has had mystery runny poo overnight and I’ve been on doody duty. I’m a bit paranoid it’s something our older two dogs could pick up, even though all are up-to-date on everything preventable. My tired brain is up before the kids and all over the place.

    Our homeschooling journey began over 15 years ago (second grad this year down to a three-year-old). We have been blessed through both the ups and downs. I admit we’re currently in a bit of a winter doldrums season. Thank you for your word of support and encouragement! Keep pressing on, moms! …Even on what seem to be the doody days or nights, the joys are coming!

  7. Oh my goodness, yes!! We brought home our puppy January 14th and SHEESH. hahaha We are in our third year of home schooling and my boys are 9.5, 7, and almost 4yr old twins. So of course we thought what our life was missing is a puppy!! hehe At least the pup is a girl. 😉

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