homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Homeschool Snapshot, 2/4/2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Wow. Has it really been since last May that I did one of these? Okay, note to self--do this more often. Heh. I'll get right on that, just like the blogging-in-general more often and paying bills on time and, oh, taking regular showers. I fight this constant mental battle these days between beating myself up for not accomplishing more, and reminding myself that I do have a baby again and perhaps "more" isn't realistically achievable anyway. Then I cut myself some slack until the next "I'm so behind!" panic hits. ;)

In my life recently...

In general, I'm navigating the daily struggle of juggling the baby and household (see above) and feeling massive amounts of guilt about "neglecting" the other kids (they play and explore both together and independently quite nicely, actually) and feeling like I should be doing more with the homeschooling. Ugh. I did have kind of a happy little moment of self-forgiveness the other day, however, when I was looking through Homeschool Your Child For Free and read the following quote from an experienced homeschooling parent:
"I unschool them when they are little, then gradually introduce some reading and math. Then around age twelve we get more serious."
I realize just how illustrative this is of my own self-doubt, but here it is: I felt less worried and, yes, a bit validated (is it wrong to crave that so much?) just seeing that you can change the "how" without that meaning you don't have a "plan". I often feel ungrounded in my convictions because I don't embrace a recognizable Way. I'm not wholly (that is, "radically") unschooly, yet I cringe at the idea of school-at-home overscheduled academic drilling. When I try to define my approach and goals even to myself, I end up sounding so wishy-washy and uncertain.

Now that T is 8, I've been nudging more with reading and math. I feel that these are necessary skills that will help him to pursue the things in which he's interested. Plus, there's a self-preservation gene that keeps whispering in my ear, "what IF...", and I worry that if I suddenly *had to* (or suddenly *chose to*) send him to school, I wouldn't want him to be too far "behind" to catch up to his peers. A literate child--a literate person--is better prepared to self-teach and explore and access and understand much of the learning around him, both structured and environmental.

However, our "everything else" learning is still largely led by happenstance and our own curiosity. Any lesson plan or structured teaching that I provide is, for now, just those two primary skill sets. Reading that others have successfully taken a similar path quiets the voices of doubt which fret that I'm somehow "doing it wrong".

In our homeschool recently...

As noted above, we're doing some actual schoolwork, and I'm tasking myself to be more organized about it. At the same time, I'm trying to remain mindful of their own, self-directed interests and the "work" of play...and to frickin' relax, already. If there's a perfect balance, I will find it. If it kills me. (I'm only half kidding.)

Specifically, we've been doing a good deal of, practicing basic addition/subtraction facts, and playing a lot of verbal games. T is finally starting to recognize phonemes better, but it all seems to break down when it's in print. So I'm backing off a little on the reading. That is, we're doing it, I'm just dropping my expectations and pressure and doing more scaffolding because I'm starting to see where he actually needs it as opposed to just wanting it. I'm also finding more creative ways to increase phonemic awareness. We play rhyming games at the dinner table, and have consonant diagraphs of the day...whatever fun ways I can think of to get some practice in without resorting to worksheets, worksheets, worksheets.

That said, we do have worksheet days every now and then. Sometimes it's parent-led, if I find some that are particularly helpful and don't just look like empty busy work. Sometimes it's children-led...they seem to occasionally like days where both of them work on the same task, so I will pull out matching workbooks and they'll compete. Or better, work together.

We've also added Classes to our routine. T is currently taking his second fencing class.

Wow, what a cool activity that is. I suppose all martial arts have a bit of poetry to them, if they're practiced well, but this seems extra elegant. I'm really enjoying watching him improve, and what's more, watching him engage in a group learning setting. I tease him a bit (he growls when I call him Inigo, but I suspect he secretly likes it) but really, I'm very proud of him. As for C, he took a multi-medium art class in the fall and will start his second art class next week. He does plenty of art on his own, and he's been impressing me lately with his detailed still-life drawings. This kid barely makes a recognizable stick figure, and then BAM: he's drawing buildings that look like the work of someone twice his age. I started the "class" thing to get them into the community and hoping to meet new friends...and they're already gaining so much more.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

It's been too long since the last check-in to fill in everything, so I'll actually do a "this week" for this prompt. We've had mild weather lately, so we've been battling our cabin fever with almost daily walks; either around the neighborhood or at a local municipal park. T and C each had sleepovers with grandparents, and my in-laws took T to see his favorite cousin in a wrestling tournament. They also surprised both boys with a trip to a nearby state college to see this awesome da Vinci exhibit!

My favorite things this week were...
    • Camping out on the living room floor with the kids. Baby J included. It was a fun shift from our routine.
    • T instructing me on how to make a more-than-basic paper airplane.

      I really love when they are so excited about a subject that they want to teach others. And I think he did a fine job, especially considering his clumsy student!
    • Our walks. This time of year, we all get cabin fever. The fresh air improved all of our moods.
    What's working/not working for us...

    As much as I tend to second-guess and over-plan and just plain stress myself with worry, it remains true that the best approach I take (and I'm not consistent but I do return to it, so I'm improving!) is simply to live mindfully. To be aware of their, and my, moods, needs, desires, obstacles, strengths, etc. To take one day at a time. To adapt. And to forgive.

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

    I think I've talked enough about such things for now, don't you? ;)

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

    PS: Once I checked the website linked in the introductory image, I realized that it's been SO LONG since I've done one of these that they went and changed the format! Whoops, I copied and pasted from an old post. I'll answer the right questions next time, for anyone who's playing along! ;)

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Good point.

    Me, to crying baby: "I'll change your diaper and you'll feel like a new man."

    T, to me: "Uh, Mom? That's kinda what he IS..."