homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homeschool Snapshot, 10/01/2012

It's been a while since I took the time to get my bearings. I'm using the prompts from over at the Homeschool Mother's Journal linkup, but since I'm outside the share dates (Friday-Monday), I'm not going to bother linking up. What can I say, I don't get to plan when I'll get to sit down and complete a thought these days! But more on that below...

In my life recently…
We've been riding some waves. We have periods of huge, visible activity, and periods of just trying to get through a basic, no-frills day. Two weeks ago, we had nine days in a row of outings. We did some neat things (amusement park, zoo, several parties), but I got so burned out on the running-around that I passed on the next opportunity that presented itself. Or two or three; I don't remember. Some days I present planned lessons...which are a crapshoot. Some have gone back-pattingly (hells yeah I just made that up) well, and others have fallen flat. We've also done the life-learning approach of following our interests, and have had some really good conversations and researched some fascinating stuff. 

As for my life? Personally? I've been fighting a tough battle for Balance. Gosh, it feels like that's always the case. I've been meaning to blog this, but HA--balance. Sigh. I can't tell you how many blog entries I've mentally composed, but cannot get to a keyboard without interruption and with enough mental energy left (it's after midnight now, for example) to complete a coherent thought. I'm trying to streamline/organize too much at once, between housework, homeschooling, and personal goals. Yes, I have made strides in taming the overwhelming to-do list on each, but I'm still not getting as much done as I'd like to. And having a very active toddler does not help matters, as many of my goals are more easily accomplished without him underfoot. So on any given day, IF he naps, I may present a fully-prepared lesson, help with a craft project or science experiment, simply respond to a spontaneous request with something other than "maybe later", catch up on a nagging area of clutter, exercise, blog, do lesson planning, work on one of my own crafts, or (crazytime, here) shower. But the catch is, usually only ONE of the above.

I have started making my "to do" lists apply across the week rather than a day, which helps. I'm trying to keep my eyes on what I am accomplishing rather than what I'm not. And I'm also trying to keep my commitment to better sleep habits. It's so easy to fit more into the day by simply sacrificing sleep, but then I sacrifice productivity the following day. Right now I'm sacrificing, and I may regret it. But I have actually kept a pretty regular bedtime for a while now, and that alone actually helps with my balance; because it reduces my physical exhaustion.

The emotional/mental exhaustion? I have a feeling that it's a chronic symptom of parenting.


In our homeschool recently…
We've learned about the Montgolfier brothers, who invented the hot air balloon. We've studied sea turtles and revisited the sharks-and-rays. We've had talks about vaccinations, nutrition, and--oh yeah--physics (both astro- and quantum-). I'm trying to push reading skills but a combination of my scrambling to find the "right" approach and their resistance (one from frustration, one from disinterest/boredom) has left me with a kind of sporadic record of random hit-and-misses. The kids have both started playing Animal Jam, which C could take or leave, but T is totally obsessing over. I've already seen his skills in basic arithmetic, budgeting, and planning improve...both within the game (players earn credits to "purchase" digital content) and in the real world (T did a number of chores to earn the money to pay for his membership).

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
I recently put together a little skill-building game that not only helped my kids, but also that they love so much that they ask for it. Even Daddy has joined in on the action! T, I believe, may be struggling with reading because of a mild auditory processing deficit. (No I did not make that up; I consulted with a Ph.D. in special education who gave me all sorts of wonderful advice about changing my approach toward his literacy instruction. Another story I've been meaning to blog, alas.) I have noticed that among other symptoms, he seems to have trouble with rhythm.

I made a deck of flashcards with clipart images on them; because I did not want him to get frustrated and shut down with the pressure of decoding words for this exercise. The images represent words of varying syllables (1-4). The kids and I use this deck to play "War", with the higher-syllable word trumping. Many of the images are beloved cartoon characters, so the play can become very competitive as they try to collect "teams". And T's skills at breaking words into syllables has improved quickly. Definitely a win.

I am inspired by…
Pinterest! Is that a cop-out? I get good ideas there; and yay--Wendy Priesnitz pins links to articles (both hers and others), which I find extremely comforting, eye-opening, thought-provoking, and otherwise optimism-building.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Oh gosh, WAY too many to name. The zoo. Kennywood Park. The library, natch. Many parks. Walks in the woods. A pig roast. Several birthday parties. I hope to take the kids to some local farms soon (we've never been apple-picking, and we typically go to the pumpkin festival at a farm close to us), a trip to the mountains, and--fingers crossed--maybe a rail museum. Also, C started attending a six-week soccer clinic and seems to really be enjoying it. Perhaps he may join a team in the future? We shall see.

My favorite thing recently has been…
Getting some one-on-one time with my older sons, both together and individually. It's very difficult to manage, but even a simple trip to the store in the evening gives us small moments of reconnecting.

Questions/thoughts I have…
Just a little "huh" moment to share. My current approach is mostly life-learning. I don't follow a set curriculum and frankly don't always have a fully fleshed-out plan beyond the current week. I'm trying to get more organized with that because there are things that I want to show them, to explore with them, to share. And there are also, of course, basic skills that I want to help them develop so they can explore better on their own. What's been interesting to me is how many of these basic skills I have started to introduce lately only to find that they've already figured out much of it on their own. I'll have a little lesson prepared at the beginner level and they just look at me like I'm an idiot. They're clever kids, and they often amaze me.

Things I’m working on…
Balance. Balance. Balance. And I'm knitting sweaters for Christmas. Because I am a martyr and a fool. LOL

I’m reading…
Religion and Reaction: The Secular Political Challenge to the Religious Right, by Susan B. Hansen 
which is interesting but dry. I really need an entertaining read; I have plenty to choose from, but nothing has grabbed my attention for a while.

I’m cooking…
The past two weeks have seen a lot of crock pot cooking, as I try to carve out more time for myself. It's been an interesting experiment but frankly, I don't know that I'm saving myself all that much effort. I do like having the meals pre-made in the freezer, though, because I don't have to go through the mental hurdle of meal planning every day. I just grab a bag, make sure I have any filler ingredients (side dishes, rice, etc.), and dinner is underway. Okay, it's saving me time. Again, yay Pinterest.


A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Photos to come soon, I hope. They're on a different computer. In the meantime, these two articles were like a big warm hug on some particularly stressful days.

http://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/2012/09/balancing-homeschooling-and-housework/

http://rachelmariemartin.blogspot.com/2012/08/dear-sweet-mom-who-feels-like-she-is.html

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