Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We'll Be Doing the Opposite This Spring

I am trying something that seems illogical and contradictory.

In reaction to feeling like we're not getting as many homeschool lessons done at home than I'd wanted and in reaction to wanting more relaxed time at home, I have decided to spend LESS time at home and to keep busy with more things done elsewhere and with more people.

Does this sound crazy? Maybe it does. Maybe it is.

I've been thinking about complacency, the type that involves laziness or a slowed pace that prevents getting things done that should be able to get done. I'm talking about the fact that we spent more time at home in order to get more homeschool lessons done but that relaxed time is so laid back that not much actually got done. I'm talking about a slowed pace, a loss of enthusiasm, a loss of vigor.

Last August I spent a week helping my brother-in-law by working at his retail business. I did this again a few weeks ago. I realized that this life I'm living has a different pace than the life of a working person. I hadn't realized how laid back my pace was until I had to go to work at certain times and juggle motherhood and homeschooling with the demand of an employer (no matter how temporary). I got a feeling for what life must be like for the parents I know who work outside the home. It hit me that if our homeschool academics were that fast paced and disciplined, we'd accomplish more.

I think I applied the "do more by doing less" idea incorrectly because for my children and I when we have a full day at home without appointments I have grand plans for what we can achieve but we wind up having relaxed days and not getting a lot done. Different things could be the reason for this but addressing those things has not worked (making schedules, making assignment lists). My new thinking is if we have less time at home to do home based academic lessons we might accomplish more at home than when we have large sweeps of free time at home.

I also wonder if my kids might be at a point in this academic school year that they have burned out of being around me, the homeschool teacher of the home-based lessons, and they just have tapered down their output.

Usually we are busy in the fall running around, have a couple of months in the winter to buckle down and get a lot of work done at home, then are out and about and very busy in the spring. This winter though, the output in the winter has been lower than I'd wanted.

I considered not re-enrolling my younger son into the spring experiential nature class he has been doing for four years in order to spend even MORE time at home. However he loves the class and wants to do it. It is good for him to be with kids his age for a full six hours having fun outside and getting exercise. He needs some time away from his brother to be his own person rather than being ‘the little brother’ and he loves spending time with old friends.

My older son asked to not re-enroll into the class he took last fall. At first he said he didn’t like the content of the new class held on the same day as his brother’s class. I offered a different class on different day but he declined. After a few weeks of consideration, today he asked me to enroll him in the class. The sun is out, the weather is warm, and it looks like winter is definitely over. He probably wants to be outside more.

Another reason I'm doing this is related to puberty. I know for a fact that he is feeling like he's around his younger brother too much. He seems to want more time with same-aged peers. He is dealing with raging hormones of puberty that can negatively affect his relationship with me and with his brother. I also just found out last night (four months after this was over) that a girl was talking to him a lot at every class last fall and he felt she had a crush on him. Whether it is true or whether she was just trying to be a platonic friend I may never know, but what is important are his emotions related to that. It made him uncomfortable. I was thinking he should feel flattered, but I'm recalling from my early teen years that it felt creepy knowing that a boy had a crush on me when I wanted no part of him in a romantic way. I think that is yet another reason why he refused to re-enroll in that class, to avoid seeing that girl.

We are also joining a new homeschool co-op that begins in two weeks. It is a one day a week co-op with three courses and lunch. I'll be teaching at it.

In addition to those three days of the week, we still have some other series classes taught by subject matter experts, and the Science Olympiad competition this spring to be done on other days.

This is not to mention our continued participaton in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts where both kids have interaction with peers.

So to recap I have shifted the plan of execution for our homeschool for this spring. Rather than doing a certain low amount of outside classes I am increasing the number of outside things we do. I am increasing the time my children see same-aged peers. These things involve seeing kids of the opposite gender and mixed ages but not being in the same classes as their sibling.

I'm putting "getting through puberty" as a top priority for our family. So if this means my older son does different academic work at outside classes than I'd have him do here at home, so be it.

Regarding the slacker mentality and 'brain mush' that seems to occur at the same time as puberty, I'm hoping that by keeping busy in outside classes he can get enough mental stimulation from those pursuits and be held accountable to get the work done by adults who are not Mom.

The increased time my younger son will see other kids for home education pursuits will help him also as he is my 'very social' kid who comes alive and lights up when in groups of same-aged peers. Between that and the competitive Lacrosse team he joined for the first time this spring, I think he'll have enough way more than enough social interaction with other kids his age.

The dew is already coming off the rose. He was asking for more time with other kids and to make new friends but just with the Lacrosse clinics and the team, he has already discovered that most kids are not friendship material, not only are some of them not nice, some are shy and silent, some are bullies, some are stupid, some are babyish, and some are outright annoying to be in the presence of. This child of mine suffers from “the grass is always greener” syndrome, which he sometimes applies to his homeschooling, thinking that school may be a utopia that he wants to explore. He is getting cured of that pretty darned quick thanks to Lacrosse.

I’ll let you know how life is for us when we make the shift to spending most of our homeschooling days not at home and most of our evenings and weekends at Scouts and at our children’s sport events. We’ll see how this affects my children’s home education and how our family dynamic shifts during the puberty years. I have a feeling we’ve closed multiple windows all at once while opening new doors at the same time. I’m a bit nervous but I’ve committed to these changes. I’m pernicious and tenacious so there’s no turning back. The plans for our spring schedule have been set in stone.

Oh, and I am excited and optimistic about all this. I think I forgot to mention that!


Lily Rose said...
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christinemm said...

Any other bloggers suddenly getting hit with spam ad comments from people in other countries using very broken English OR comments fully in Chinese or Japanese (I don't know the difference).

I do have word verification turned on but some get past...annoying...