Saturday, September 22, 2007
Homeschool Open House Week in Review: Week 3
Homeschool Open House Week in Review
Week 3: September 17-23, 2007
Older son is aged 10 and in 5th grade.
Younger son is aged 7 and in 2nd grade.
I am sorry to report that the overall excitement about restarting homeschooling is over at this point. Real life intervened and problems have arisen and it just knocked the wind out of my sails.
I would say this week was a bit disappointing as we still have not found a nice rhythm to our days yet. When the homeschooling is getting done, the housework and laundry suffer. When I stop to do a laundry marathon, the lessons slack off. When I get the homeschooling done and the household stuff done, I have little time for my own self to take a breather. I would like to find a nice rhythm and have things flow nicely but that has not fallen into place yet. I am still trying to find a balance and a rhythm.
The best thing about this week is that we all really love the schedule, the fact that I did NOT over-schedule the kids. My boys have enough down time for free play at home, enough social time with friends for the homeschool park day and also for playdates with friends. We have breathing room in our days and it is NOT about rushing here and rushing there, worried about making it to the next appointment, which is what life was like for us last year.
My boys are really enjoying the outside classes and events that I’ve scheduled for them. They are elated about doing every single one of them and that is good. At some times in the past we were too busy and it got to a point where they took for granted the fun things they were doing. “Oh, time to go to that Audubon class again, ho hum”, was their attitude last year.
Bad news regarding the health of two elderly relatives was received this week. I will keep quiet about the major issue which has us all very upset. I will share the other big thing, that my grandmother (age 97) is now temporarily (or perhaps permanently) living with my uncle (which she is not happy about as she wants to remain in her own home and under her own control) while she recovers from an injury sustained after a fall. I fear she may be admitted to a nursing home which is something I really don’t want for her. This is the grandmother who lives 500 miles north of me, in the woods of Maine. On top of all of this my other grandmother who lives alone (age 88) is giving me the guilt trip that I am not spending enough time in my hometown, visiting her. Note that at the time she did that, we had just been to visit four days prior. I feel pushed and pulled by various people this week.
I have tried to stick to my homeschooling plans, to get done what I think is a reasonable amount of work. It is proving hard to do. Yesterday I thought a lot about whether or not my expectations are too high. I really don’t think they are too high. Actually I still feel that we are doing less than what I’d consider ideal. So I still feel a bit guilty as I think my kids should be doing more yet they are not keeping up with what they already have to do. After some slumping and laziness earlier in the week, yesterday was a big catch-up day. I don’t like ‘big catch-up days’, for one thing it goes against the philosophy of short lessons each day, a philosophy of Charlotte Mason, that I feel works nicely for retention of information and for prevention of ‘overkill’. I mean, what person really wants to do 90 minutes of math in one sitting or six pages of penmanship practice? My kids think it is torture but they brought it on themselves.
I think my kids are being lazy. They feel put out by being asked to do any amount of homeschooling work yet they are not on their own, doing ‘good stuff’ such as the tales the unschoolers often like to tell. They are not, in their spare time, doing educational pursuits or even reading anything I’d consider worthwhile or educational. (They like to read comic books, magazines, and catalogs in their spare time.) Actually they keep asking to watch TV to which I say no.
A local homeschooling friend just began her second year of homeschooling. Formerly her two children were in school. She says her kids are elated to be homeschooling and are so happy to not be in school dealing with numerous negative things they experienced that they are full of glee about homeschooling and are cheerfully doing their homeschooling work. She says she thinks my kids, since they have been homeschooled since birth, are not feeling gratitude for their situation because they don’t know what they are missing in school (not dealing with the negatives of school). She feels that if my kids had been to school like hers did, that mine would be happier to know they are doing things differently with homeschooling and they’d never complain about what I’m asking them to do. My kids don’t live with the pressure of testing, the pressure of the CMTs (Connecticut’s standardized test) nor do they have homework to do at night, so those are three big things they have no clue that they are blessed to not have to do.
I am disappointed to admit that my kids have gotten a bit rebellious about doing their work. Monday morning my older son started right off with back talk and a bad tone of voice regarding starting to do his homeschooling lessons. He ended up with a warning, then later punished with no television for the day. He was not ready to knock it off yet, and so he received a warning for the next day (and he finally chose to stop complaining at that point). Also on Monday morning my younger son lied about how many pages he read in the Bible (a NIV version in graphic format/comic book style). He claimed to have read 50 pages in 15 minutes. Of all things to lie about, to lie about reading the Bible, it really was too much for me to even grasp, and he instantly was given a punishment of no television that day. I told him that if he was going to try to pull stuff like that I’d mandate a narration for every single reading not just occasional narrations. I feel like I’m giving them an inch and they are taking a mile.
Then yesterday my younger son was punished as well for sneaking to watch television and for refusing to come downstairs to begin homeschooling.
We did spend some time on history this week. I read aloud “Viking Adventure” by Clyde Robert Bulla which took me a full two hours. After the first 90 minutes I was getting hoarse so I stopped reading aloud for the day and we finished it the next day. I really want to ramp up the history and get down to business with history. I wish we were reading great books like this every single day.
The use of the paper schedule, with one week on one page is really working out well. At a glance we can see if we are ‘behind’ or ‘on time’ or ‘ahead’. I will say I feel I’m a bit of a taskmaster lately which stinks.
As far as the learning goes, things are going smoothly. Here are a few examples. My kids are grasping new math concepts easily. The math facts are getting memorized. They are both doing well with spelling. After struggling to memorize problematic spelling words, my older son had success with reading over the spelling words written with a dark marker on blank index cards. Hey, whatever works. When he doesn’t do that, he struggles day after day without mastering the word, yet after one time of studying the words on the flash cards for five minutes, he retains the proper spelling.
I am putting fiction books into my children’s hands to read for reading practice. Sometimes they balk or frown and say they won’t like the story, then they end up loving it. I fluctuate between giving them books I think are very good quality, to other times, letting them read some popular stuff that kids nowadays are reading, even if it would be labeled twaddle by me. My younger son at first refused to read the book I gave him to read, saying he thought, based on the cover illustration and the title, that he’d hate the story. Well he ended up loving the story and even stayed up late, reading in bed, as he didn’t want to put it down. And my older son read before bed also, staying up late to finish the story since “it was so good”.
Yesterday finally I sat down and finalized the plans for my homeschool support group for this year. I run a Charlotte Mason group. We have a small number of core members who attend a night meeting. For the first time we are going to start meeting in a coffee shop instead of in my home or someone else’s home. This year our focus will be to discuss living books. Each month we are going to have a topic and the main discussion will be to share titles of our favorite books to teach that topic, science or ancient history, for example. It should be interesting. To lighten my load I decided to not meet monthly but we’ll meet about five or six times over the entire year. This weekend I hope to get the email announcements for the meetings to the various homeschool support websites and circulate emails to the Connecticut homeschool email discussion groups.
The Cub Scout year is up and running. Both my husband and I are Den Leaders, for two different Dens. That work takes up some of my time now. And this week I need to get organized and make some arrangements to visit some Boy Scout Troop meetings so we can make a decision about which Troop our older son will cross into, in February. I don’t want to be thinking about that during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season!
By the way my older son’s Lyme Disease symptoms so far have stopped since he was put on the antibiotics. Hooray for that!
So, this last week for me has been more about real life, dealing with problems and dealing with emotions. All the while, even when feeling drained of emotional energy, or when I’m feeling sad or the condition of my suffering and sick or injured relatives, I’m juggling the responsibility of homeschooling my children, parenting them and running this household. I’m also trying to be there for my husband to help him through these rough times. Perhaps this is a good example of how we homeschooling mothers are not just all obsessed with our children’s homeschooling and maybe this is a good demonstration of how their education is not 100% of what we do with our mental energy or our time. We homeschooling mothers have full lives and other responsibilities to juggle as well. Keeping all the balls in the air and trying to fulfill all the obligations is sometimes a challenge. And life is not always perfect nor does it play out ‘as planned’ all the time.
Homeschool Open House’s Weekly Reporter blog post project is a concept devised by Jessica of Trivium Academy. For more information, see the Trivium Academy blog entry dated 9/04/07.
Graphics which I am using in my Homeschool Open House and Weekly Reporter were designed by Jessica and are available on her blog, again in the same blog post dated 9/04/07.
For information about how you can become a Weekly Reporter or to view a list of other Weekly Reporters, read the information at Trivium Academy in the 9/04/07 blog post or see the information in her right sidebar.
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