Sunday, October 21, 2007

Homeschool Open House Week in Review: Week 7

Homeschool Open House Week in Review
Week 7: October 14-Octobery 20, 2007

Older son is aged 10 and in 5th grade.
Younger son is aged 7 and in 2nd grade.

This was a week of extremes. We were out of state or out of town or didn’t spend a lot of time at home on the other days. We had times of extreme togetherness and times where we were all apart. It was a strange flux of going away from each other, being preoccupied with tending to other things, and sometimes feeling disconnected, then coming back together physically and emotionally and feeling immediately connected again.

The first two days of the week we were in Cape Cod and coming home. One day this week my sons were in their all-day class so I had some alone time. Instead of going to Homeschool Park Day we went to a birthday party for a schooled child (the public school was closed for some teacher meeting type thing). This was Youth Group week for my older son so one evening was taken up with that. We saw less of my husband due to him spending more time helping his parents with their daily living and medical care needs due to their ailing health, and my kids missed him. We had two homeschooled boys over for a playdate one afternoon, so I felt like I didn’t see my kids as they were so busy playing with the other boys. The week ended with my older son and my husband going on a Webelos-only Cub Scout campout. My younger son wanted to do something special so he spent the day and slept over at my brother and sister-in-law’s. This left me to have a full 24 hours alone!

This week for the first time this school year I felt the outside activities and classes were too much and were dominating our lives. The feeling was there that the outside appointments were top priority and that all other things revolved around those things. I hate that feeling.

Also various ‘one time’ things are starting to fill up the schedule. I declined a last minute invitation to my niece’s birthday party as it directly conflicted with FIRST LEGO League class. We have already declined a wedding invitation due to LEGO and now this. It is not just that my son would miss the class, but since my husband is a co-coach he has responsibilities to tend to. And they made a policy of two absences and you’re out. We missed one for the closing-of-the-house in the Cape trip so we are on the edge here. And guess what, now my niece’s party was then rescheduled to another date when we’ll have to do the ‘divide and conquer’ thing. I’ll be finishing attendance at a conference and then will be with my younger son at his friend’s birthday party which I committed to about six weeks ago and my husband and older son will be free at that exact time so they’ll go to the niece’s birthday party (but they will have been out all day long on a Cub Scout field trip to tour the state capitol building) so you see how the pace is around here?

As for homeschooling lessons, due to all the things going on and being out of town we are off track of the planned schedule. Having a schedule and lessons all laid out this year, I now feel perpetually behind because we ARE behind on my schedule. I also have been telling my boys that no, they can’t watch a bunch of TV and when they ask why, I say when they are so behind in their homeschooling work they can’t add on extra time watching TV period! However I don’t like this feeling of being always behind and I don’t think it is healthy for them to always feel like they are failing at keeping up with their lessons. I worry that they feel like failures for always being behind. Compare that to public schooled children who in reality are often behind in the teacher’s original plans but who instead get boosted up with lots of positive self-esteem for what they do accomplish. I feel a bit bad that my homeschooled kids feel badly about being behind when their schooled peers are doing less academic work and yet think they’re doing so much and that they are “so wonderful”. Yet if my children are to be more self-directed as they are asking to be, how can I hide the fact from them that they are behind schedule?

I have two routes to take here. One would be to lighten the load and to declare success at doing all the work. The other route is to buckle down and jam with homeschooling.

I know some people are thinking “Relax!”. They would have me lighten the load. And my unschooling friends would say, “Just live life that is all you need to do.”

I enjoy Melissa Wiley’s blogs but I don’t read them daily as I just don't have time. I tend to visit her blogs and then read a whole lot of her blog posts at one time. I was reading about her “Tidal Homeschooling” theory. I feel like that is what we’re doing here but not on a pre-planned basis, it is just what is happening as real life plays out for us.

Two days ago, a well-meaning friend told me that with all the health crisis stuff with relatives going on I should relax and just not do any homeschooling for a while. The problem with that though is that there have been various health issues with the same relatives in the full last 24 months. One being my mother with her Breast Cancer in fall 2005 (which so far is ‘cured’ thank goodness). Plus with the two cases of Lyme Disease that my older son had in the last 15 months and with younger son’s Lyme and Ehrlichiosis and with my own Lyme last year that things have already been relaxed and so that contributed to the overall feeling of being behind. I feel like I can’t keep cutting slack due to these problems as it seems the problems are being more of a normal thing in our lives not just a little short hump that we have to get over. I feel like I need to forge ahead and ‘Just Do It’.

As to the schedule, I seriously don’t think I’ve planned too much. For some reason I still don’t feel like we have time for history lessons though! I’ve slacked on the reading aloud of literature and I’m too upset about that actually but it is a fact. And I have so many great science books I’d like to read with them or have them read to themselves. I have science kits and experiments and unit studies I’d like to do with them but where is the time? Also I ask myself is not six hours of direct instruction at a science and nature class enough science for these kids already?

I continue to see that my sons do not like short lessons times doing lessons each day which did work for so long and is one component of a Charlotte Mason education. My sons now like to spend a longer time on things like doing 90-120 minutes of history or doing the all day science class or blowing through three grammar lessons in one sitting. I am going with the flow here even if it means leaving behind one part of an educational theory that I like.

Another important component to the week is I’m still grieving for my recently deceased mother friend. I feel so vulnerable like I don’t know how long I’ll be on this Earth and I want to really appreciate the little things in life each day.

Worse though, is that the health of the four elderly, sick, frail or dying relatives of ours have all gotten worse this week. One grandmother whom I was told was improving at the beginning of the week, I was told last night was not doing well and is unable to live alone. That is my grandmother in Maine, aged 97, and she is asking me to go up and visit. The schedule is tight not just with the kids activities but with my Cub Scout Leadership and Youth Group Leadership so I have commitments here as well.

The Cancer of my father-in-law is worsening and Hospice may begin this upcoming week. It has been an emotional week. I think some that were in denial are out of it now. This saps a lot of energy.

The most pressing news is that it seems one grandmother will need urgent surgery and right now before surgery she is facing a possible life-threatening emergency situation if this is not surgically corrected ASAP. In the past we were told her heart is not well enough to take a surgery and she may die on the table. I think tomorrow the consult with the general surgeon will be scheduled and then she’ll be on the path to surgery in the next week or ten days.

Concluding Thoughts
I think the week was such a feeling of being out and away and not doing very routine things at home that in the upcoming week it will feel good to buckle down and get a good amount of homeschooling done.

I have some blog posts prepared ahead of time which I will be publishing this week. I am going to try to stay off the computer as much as possible so that I can force myself to focus on doing homeschooling lessons with my children. I have a feeling I’ll get behind on reading emails and email discussion groups too!

General Information:
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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