Rookie homeschool report

So here is the homeschooling low down from this rookie mom.  
Since we have begun our first real year of homeschooling (independent from their old school) I feel a little like I have begun a new full time job. It is a career that I don't get paid for, that I often feel unprepared for and if I fail my kids will pay the price.   If my child doesn't learn to read I can't berate the teacher, write letters to the principal or blame the "system" (not that I've ever done that!).  The point is I'm it.   Pass or fail. 
That is a LOT of responsibility!  It feels natural though like a normal extension of everything else I teach them as a parent.   One thing I have always struggled to balance is busy work vs. just time being with the kids.  This forces me to be an intentional parent and to let the  housework remain neglected while I read to my kids or sit next to them at the table for a few hours at day.  It is wonderful and exhausting all at the same time!

Just keeping kids alive, fed and in clean clothes seems like a full time job never mind teaching them history and grammar.
It is a big change but not one that has been all bad.  There are parts of it that I am loving. 
I must admit it takes a lot of discipline and self motivation to make education a priority each and every day that we are home.   I know that if we didn't have that "get your books out" routine after breakfast we would come up with ever excuse to put it off indefinitely.   I am not a scheduler by nature.  Neither are my kids.   They appreciate routine and predictability but we've found schedules just stress us all out.   Some homeschooling schedules I've read make me exhausted just reading through them.  One I read recently had every 10-20 min. time slot designated with subjects or activities for 5 kids from 8 am -3pm. phew.  The other end of the spectrum would lead into utter Lord of the Flies chaos.   I think we land somewhere in the middle with a fairly predictable routine.  

Silas either plays by himself, does "school" with Aili as his preschool teacher, plays play-doh or watches cartoons.   Yup, my preschooler spends a good part of  the morning watching Curious George and Magic School bus.   I'm sure that must go against some unwritten  homeschool law. 

   We are still working out the bugs and my priority is keeping my big kids on track in the morning (and a baby fed, happy and down for a nap).  

There are moments when I am SO happy that the kids are being educated at home.  There are moments when I am absolutely confident that this is the best environment for them to thrive and learn.  There are days when we love the freedom and the family togetherness.   

Then there are moments when I am pretty much sure that my kids will either end up in therapy or prison...or both.   I will fail at this task set before me and my kids will end up on the side of a freeway holding up a cardboard sign or busking tables at Denny's.   
Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll join the circus and we'll all get discount tickets.    It kind of feels like a circus around here most of the time anyway.  

 My biggest challenge thus far is my boy.   I knew schooling him would be no picnic.  Roman is so full of extremes.  When he is in his element which usually includes the outdoors, exploring, and physical exertion, he is focused, charming, curious and happy.   When you take him out of his element he is sometimes literally unable to function never mind do book work.  He is a high maintenance 100% attention, student which leaves me time for little else....and sometimes ready to clock out by 10am.   I'm seeing more and more things that cause me ,not so much concern, as frustration and a desire to get to the bottom of.    We both end up very frustrated and even just focusing his eyes and attention on a page of work becomes like torture.  I really need to boost my creative teaching methods and remind myself not to just recreate "school" at home.   His issues were about 90% of why we opted to home school this year.  Although he had wonderful teachers that adored him he didn't qualify for an assistant and it was becoming very clear that it was not fair to his teacher, to his classmates or to him to keep him in that learning environment.

I've been searching homeschooling mom blogs, and websites about teaching kids with unique learning styles and challenges.   Things like the importance of "heavy work".   I've noticed in order to focus he needs breaks of hard movement, exertion, lifting, jumping, or  standing on his head.  Things I had noticed about him but had never considered it a "technique".  Simple ideas and tools can sometimes mean the difference between a page of 3 digit subtracting whizzed through or him writhing on the floor in frustration when I ask him to hold a pencil and write down the answer for 2+2.  Extremes.   He is a smart kid.  The things he actually knows, stores in his brain,  and "gets"  blows me away...but to tap into it is so frustrating.    Pulling my hair out, taking deep relaxation breaths frustrating.    Thats my rant.  One thing that he loves is snuggling up to me on the couch and me reading to him. That usually ends up our default school time.   He goes from overdrive to catatonic as he absorbs children's encyclopedias and classic novels.  It's all about getting information into him in a way he absorbs it.
In this picture he was doing a math test.  Can't you tell?  It had absolutely nothing to do with pencils in a foam ball.
There must be a math lesson in this somewhere.
I'm finished my whining rant now.
Honestly overall we are enjoying our change.  There have only been a few moments when I was fleetingly tempted to re-enroll them.  There are so many positives that I have noticed after only a few months.   I have noticed that my children's friendships with each other are growing stronger.  Their self esteem is thriving.  They are learning at their own pace until they master the material.  Sometimes that means flying through chapters of math without stalling or getting bored.  Sometimes that means working on the same 20 sight words for 3 weeks before moving on.   Aili is filling up notebooks with creative writing, stories, songs and journal entries.  She is loving being Silas' preschool teacher.  We have hours to snuggle on the couch and read together.  There is so much about this lifestyle that suits us perfectly.

Miss Cece is nearly 8 months old now.   She is currently a wheezy, snotty, teething, miserable girl but adorable just the same.  She usually is a happy , smiley, content baby. This age is so fun as her little personality is starting to shine.  She keeps us giggling with her antics.   My big kids keep her giggling with their antics.  She is Daddies own personal fan club.
She finally has an adoptions case worker which has been a long wait.  This should at least get the ball rolling.  We have talked with her and are very impressed.  

1 comment:

Rebecca M said...

Hi you,
I just stopped by and was pulled in by your "rookie homeschool" post. Especially your description of your "overdrive to catatonic" boy. We have one of those here; an endearing, wiggly, brilliant, frustrating at times boy. He's such a (I think) kinetic learner that I try to limit his sit-at-the-table time for school. Some ideas that Roman might like? :
-"Draw" his math facts in a tray of corn meal/shaving cream with his finger.
-Have him stand and verbally answer all his worksheet questions while he tosses a ball into a laundry basket for each one correct
-Check out these seat cushions:
They supposedly provide more sensory input and might help our active guys sit longer when they need to.

And what is with this strange ability to become completely silent, still and absorbed in a book when otherwise, said child can't focus to complete a chore in under 30 minutes?! Such a funny combo my guy is and it sounds like yours, too!
Let me know if you figure out something that works well for you guys!