Halted

I haven’t posted anything for a few weeks because for a while, we all just ran out of enthusiasm for the whole idea. We made it to the mid year break, and then just couldn’t summon the energy to start up again.

I got some reassurance by having read about other people having similar problems, so I knew it was not just us. It still posed a problem, though, because I didn’t want to go back to doing more of what we were doing previously, with the expectation that things would be different. Something needed to change. I think there are a number of reasons why we stumbled.

Bored

Firstly, it has been half a year. I have never seen anyone give a definite timeframe for the honeymoon period, but I guess it is probably over now. Our adventure has become a lifestyle reality.

Secondly, I often see ‘I couldn’t be around my kids all day’ given as a reason why people choose not to homeschool. Despite the inevitable chorus of objection that follows, I think it is a valid point. My boys are funny and charming, but they are also very loud and very intense. They frequently overwhelm newcomers to the house. As much as I love them, there are times when I just can’t stand to have anything to do with them.

Thirdly, my wife and I both work, and between work and school there is not a great deal of time for anything else. Ordinarily, this is completely fine, but it doesn’t leave much wiggle room to deal with the vagaries of life. Things really need to be running pretty smoothly for us to make it all fit. As much as I philosophically disagree with the childcare aspect of sending kids to school, I can see why people do it.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, I seem to have drifted away from what I learned in my first lesson, and began being driven by the curriculum. This has slowly become the source of quite a bit of tension and bad feeling at home. I have only just worked that out in the last couple of days, and suddenly everything is much easier again.

So we have had a few weeks off, and now I can come back to it with a renewed perspective. There is nothing to be gained by making him hate a subject by trying to teach it through a methodology that isn’t working. If my boy collapses in a groaning heap at the prospect of writing a list of ‘in’ words (bin, pin…) then I just need another way to study reading and writing. Regardless of that, it is still OK because he knows an awesome barrage of science stuff, and is keen to know more.

Sometimes I forget that.

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About Blokeschool

I am a homeschooling dad with a wife and two boys. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing, so I feel compelled to write it all down. In my spare time, I work as a registered nurse, drink too much coffee, and intermittently renovate the house.
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8 Responses to Halted

  1. Deidre says:

    “As much as I love them, there are times when I just can’t stand to have anything to do with them.” Thank you for being so honest. This by far, is the thing I think about when I picture the next 20 years of my life. I try to tell myself, that they will grow up and the balance between friend and parent will bend the other way. Time spent with my kids will be an adventure together as apposed to stealing myself for every possible mishap with each outing.

    And yes, despite my understanding of the value of homeschool, I spent an afternoon looking at Rudolf Steiner schools, wondering if maybe I could be so selfish as to want a little time away from them.

    It’s honesty among parents that offer the best support in my opinion. Reading that one line lifted a little burden of guilt from my mind. So many homeschool blogs talk about what they are accomplishing, how great their life is and end it with pictures of happy kids doing science experiments. It’s refreshing to read about the realistic barriers that happen as well as the solutions.

    • Blokeschool says:

      Thanks for that. I almost didn’t post this because it strays so far from the usual formula. I figured, though, that since the whole purpose of this blog is reflect on what I am doing, it is going to have its ups and downs.
      Glad you got something out of it.

  2. Joy Window says:

    You probably have enough science resources, but in case you don’t, here’s one: http://rigb.org/ExpeRimental. The home page says: “Make your home a science lab with our fun experiments to do with children” – well, maybe you don’t want to take over your house to that extent 🙂 I haven’t used it so don’t know what it’s like. It’s from the Royal Institution in the UK, so presumably has good cred.

    • Blokeschool says:

      Make your home a science lab. Actually a fantasy for a few years down the track is to get ourselves some decent science glassware. Our science classes definitely provide the best inroads for all types of educational spinoffs.

  3. Seeking Joyful Simplicity says:

    I appreciate your honesty, and Deidre’s too. I have been homeschooling for five years now, and every year I think about sending them…somewhere. But then I think about how different our life would be and how quickly they grow up, and all those moments that I would miss, and the freedom…

    I can share what you probably already know – it’s a constantly evolving process, this homeschooling. Each time I thought I had things figured out, the kids would change and we would be struggling again. Your mindfulness and flexibility will keep you moving forward.

    I also understand the whole working and homeschooling stresses as I have always worked while homeschooling. Give yourself plenty of breaks, but keep them short, the longer breaks always were difficult to get back into our rhythm.

    Do you have a support system of other homeschoolers? This made all the difference for me.

    • Blokeschool says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, mindfulness and flexibility really seem to be the crux of it.
      There is a hidden but surprisingly large number of homeschoolers in the area. While I struggle to relate to a lot of them, I am definitely picking out a widening circle I can help support, and get support from.

  4. As a relaxed homeschooler, the only curriculum I have is Math on the Level. MOTL is really only a guide but I love it. It is a support system. The reading…is through our leveled readers. See my post on my phonics, link below. For writing practice (which is also subliminal grammar, spelling, and sight words) she simply keeps a journal. I write the sentence (dotting the letters is a pain so I stopped that) and she traces the letters. She then draws a picture and colors it. That is our handwriting practice! The sentences can be “We are going swimming.” “My friend, Devin, came to my house.” “We all went to the movie in the dark.” You get the idea. It can take 3 days to finish that one journal entry with her adding the picture and coloring it. And, it is a great tool to look back on as well as a personal memento for safe-keeping.

    Math is clearly something we love. Our favorite thing to do is word problems. When do you say 2+2? You don’t. Your recipe says you need 4 eggs and you only have 2. You need to buy 2 more eggs. We do bedtime math problems (sleeping on the education!). Also, not yet posted, we LOVE our homemade Montessori Beads. There are extra connections made in the brain when a number (or like my phonics toolbox) a letter is strongly linked to a color.

    If a spider lost a shoe, how many did he find?
    If a dog chases a cat up the tree, how many feet are on the ground?
    If my recipe says I need 5 eggs but I only have 3, how many more do I need to buy?
    If you and your friend want 2 cookies each, how many cookies do I need to buy?
    If the minivan can hold 7 people, and mommy, papi, you and the baby go somewhere, how many more friends can we invite to go with us?
    … You get the idea. My five year old is doing math in the double digits but we always go back to a base 10 concept. 25 less 17. It can be done different ways. I would say keep the five and leave 20. Now, 17 (10 + 7) from 20, 20 minus 10 leaves 10 and the 10 – 7 leaves 3. 3 and the 5 we are holding makes 8. It seems complicated and I have to work hard to overcome my American Math education. My 5 year old is easily doing 2nd grade mental math using this concept. And,we use our fingers – the best base 10 in the world!

    Anyway, the point of this lengthy post is that YOU CAN DO IT! If you wanted your kids to be bottle fed an artificial formula of education you would have sent them to public school already. Curriculum is not everything. They should, if used, be a guide not a strict rule book.

    • Blokeschool says:

      I like the ideas you are pushing around here. The real stumbling block curriculum wise for my boy comes down to worksheet exercises that struggle to have any context. He just hates them, and refuses to do them. Forcing the issue beyond a certain point, I think, will only teach him to dislike an entire subject by association.
      I think the ‘big picture first’ notion that you seem to be putting forward here is the way to go. I am doing a lot of reading now, trying to get a clear plan of how to progress with that.
      I was initially drawn to having a public school standard underpinning our lessons as a means to measure how we were doing. As you pointed out, and my wife made the same point, if that is all we were after, we would have sent them to a public school. Against such an argument, the only real response is to change what I am doing.

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