Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bad & Good

Sometimes in life, and more often, seemingly, in homeschooling, you just need to learn to take the bad along with the good. Alana was in one of her "moods" again this am. Yesterday, she had been a little lazy and hadn't finished all of her it got put into this am's folder, along with today's work. Well, by the time I was done with my "work" she was over the edge....crying, whining, accomplishing NOTHING! So, in one of my guilt-trip pouts (which usually occur when I'm being too mature to throw a temper tantrum myself) I say, "Fine. We'll send you back to school on Monday." It was an empty threat, of course, and luckily it didn't backfire. She started crying harder..."No, Mommy, I don't want to go back!" See, good....she likes homeschooling better than public. Bad...she still gets in those moods! :)

And you know how God just seems to know when you need him? And sometimes he doesn't answer your prayers in the way you ask him to, but He answers them just the same? I've been feeling discouraged, alone, lonely. Always questioning my ability to do this. Then a friend, Paula, who I luckily ran into at hubby's Christmas party (which I did NOT want to go to) puts me in touch with Julia, a 5-yr veteran of homeschooling. When I called her she was SO friendly and supportive...just what I needed. She's a keeper for sure!
And then last night, after a long day of school and a church meeting, when I usually read homeschooling books or Christian books, I decided instead to spend a few minutes with my "Organization for Scrapbookers" easy read. And there I found (well re-found) a spread featuring Kelli Crowe...a very talented scrapper AND a homeschooler! So, this am I did a search, found her blog,
and discovered another place for inspiration and encouragement. Yeah God!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Growing Pains

Yep, I admit, despite all that I've read about the typical homeschooler' first year (tears, bumps, more tears, etc) I really thought we'd be different. Welcome to reality...we're not!

By the end of our third week, the girls were angry and in tears, and I was very dissillusioned. Their biggest (and basically only) complaint was that I was being too hard on them...too much work that was just too difficult. It was a wake-up call for me. Erin's in Kindergarten...she's used to counting, learning letter sounds, singing, cutting, gluing and playing. Just because I see untapped potential in her, doesn't mean I should tap it all out at once. Time to relax, Mom. I had fallen into one of the homeschooler's first year traps...trying to prove my (and my children's) abilities to the world. I wanted to show how successful and smart we could be by pushing them.

This attitude to my complaint. I had pictured homeschooling as being snuggled on the couch reading great literature in our jammies. Going for nature hikes with a notebook, camera and magnifying glass. I imagined a slower, less scheduled, more relaxed way of life. And here I was, dictated by a self-created schedule, screaming at my stressed out kids to hurry up and get done with their math cuz it's time for science/math! First of all, do you know of a Kindergarten, or even 2nd grade class that teaches science or history. Right.

So, last week, I tried to relax. I dumped the schedule and stopped watching the clock. If we didn't get to science or history, then so be it. My girls are still getting more one-on-one attention than they would be in school. Academically, they'll be fine.

I also had a wake-up call from God. These are His children, on loan to me. I had already realized my responsibility to educate and protect them...hence me bringing them home. However, with all of this science and history work, I had been neglecting the most important subject...God. Time for me to refocus.

Things are going well. The girls seem happy. They appear to be getting along much better than they did when in school...even after being together all day. And they don't hate me either...most of the time anyway. And, now that I've relaxed a bit, I'm happier, too.

We went on our first field trip on Friday...the EC Children's Theater production of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". I love that book! I'm always threatening to move to Australia! The girls won't let me, though. (They have crocs, you know.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Just keep swimming....

Four days into it. How am I feeling? A bit overwhelmed. Still nervous and scared. A tad disappointed. But not ready to throw in the towel. I promised myself I'd stick out this year no matter what.
It's really not that bad. The days have litterally flown by, so I guess it's not "drudgery". It's simply just a matter of adjusting to a new life...all of us. I admit, so far it's not what I imagined. I had dreams of snuggling on the couch, reading classic literature to two adoring and totally absorbed girls. Instead, I have one who "hates" handwriting and phonics and wants to do harder and harder math (Erin), and another who rocks at spelling, but is sooooo slow at math and copy work.
It's mostly me. I have to figure out where they are in their learning, and then come up with a way to meet them there with the curriculum I have on hand. I have to figure out how schedule our day, making sure I am able to do one-on-one time with each when needed. And as soon as I figure this all out, Tony will go back to school and I'll have to go back to working in the mornings, and then I'll have to figure out the schedule all over again!
I'm realizing, though, that I need to carve out "me" time very quickly. For the past two months, this is all I have focused on. Not scrapping, organizing, exercising, reading for pleasure...just schooling. I had an "aha" moment last night regarding my time management. When the girls were in school, I had sort of "stopped everything" at 3:30 when they got home from school, so that I could be with them and available to them. Well, if I spend all day with them, there's really no reason that I can't have "my" time once we're finished with school. Hence, me here now. :)
Bottom line is that I'm grateful I read as much as I did before beginnig this journey. Learning from the experience of others, I know that this feeling passes, and things eventually do get easier.
Until then, just keep swimming...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baptism by Fire...

I've spent the last two months barely thinking of anything else. Tons of reading, research, planning and prayer finally put into action. I finished my daily schedule on New Years Eve (exciting life, I know!). Today was our first day homeschooling.

We stayed pretty much on schedule. I had planned to start at 10am with Dad in charge til 11am when I'm usually done with work. But with Tony home on vacation, I've given him my working hours, freeing me up in the morning. But thanks to a late night watching Dirty Jobs, I didn't get going til 10am anyway.

We began with a half hour of "Calendar" time, consisting of today's date and then important people or events of this date (or in today's instance, yesterday's date), such as Austrailia becoming a Commonwealth, the opening of Ellis Island (both providing a bit of map time), and the birthday's of Paul Revere and Betsy Ross.

This was followed by a half hour of math. Erin was bored. She went through her first two 1st Grade lessons and a wad of worksheets. But she still wasn't happy....she want's "pluses & minuses". So, I may have to push her through faster. Alana, on the other hand, took much more time than I had figured. I had thought her first few lessons of 2nd Grade math would be very easy for her, but she only made it through one lesson and half of a worksheet. I'm not sure if this is due to the lesson being too difficult, or Alana being slow and methodical. I'll have to watch that.

We then spent an hour talking about the Vikings and how their childhoods differed from ours for History. It was a little boring, I admit, since I had to use material printed from the internet as my library books haven't come in yet.

Then lunch break. We next tackled Language Arts for Alana, Phonics for Erin, and handwriting for both. Erin was bored again. She claims she already knows what we're talking about, but I really don't want to take any chances....I'm trying to teach her to read, for Heaven's sake! We read a book, had some free play before Daddy left for work, and then wrote stories.

Overall, probably a success. Both miss their friends. Erin was a bit dissillusioned and bored. I realize I need to change things for her. She wants tougher math and more artsy-crafty stuff. And more "mom time". I admit, I had pictured more cuddling on the couch with a book...and we had barely none of that. And Alana just wants more art. So, we have a few kinks to work out, but that's expected, I guess. No worries....I'm not giving up yet! At least the day flew by for me!

After dinner I'll reassess my plans for tomorrow. I need to anyway, as we're going to visit the Kindergarten tomorrow at 2... for a project and much-needed social time. Hopefully, Erin won't refuse to come home!