Some of you have noticed and commented on my lack of weekly Project Homeschool posts and so I wanted to give a little update. Are you ready, because this one is a little raw.
Homeschooling is hard. Really hard. Harder than I ever thought it would be.
And I’ve been pretty depressed about it. I mean, I should have this down, right? I have a teaching degree. I taught public school. I have a bazillion fun learning ideas stored in my brain (and Pinterest!).
But teaching your own kids is SO much harder than teaching someone else’s, and the lack of recent Project Homeschool posts reflects a bit of reality in what our homeschool has looked like. (I told you this was going to be real.)
Now. Lest anyone in a school district starts to panic–I’m not saying we haven’t done school. It’s just that it hasn’t been as organized and consistent and creative as I dreamed it would be. And because of this lack of organization, it’s not been something I’ve wanted to scrapbook or show on a blog where I strive to inspire and encourage creativity and learning in your home (no matter what your schooling choice may be). I guess it felt like falling off my plan would be admitting failure.
Seasoned homeschoolers say this happens every year–wintertime especially. You’re far enough into the school year that the newness and excitement has worn off. But you’re so far away from the end of the year that those sunless days can become monotonous and lifeless.
So what have we done this winter?
Took a break.
Most of the month of December and a couple of weeks into January, actually. Since Jared teaches college, our family tends to think and operate in semesters. And although I hadn’t planned to take most of December off, the month got started and Jared was gone early mornings and late nights with student conferences and finals to grade and I realized my visions of school were unrealistic. And then once finals were over and he was on winter break, we chose to spend our time hanging out with daddy, catching up on housework, and getting ready for Christmas.
Then there was the mother-of-all sickness in January that cycled through all of us and wiped me from all motivation. Between the flu and sinus, ear, and eye infections, we were spending so much time at the doctor or in beanbag “beds” that I felt it was a good time to take another break and recover–a hard lesson in flexibility for this routine-loving mommy.
We read, a lot. Picture books, chapter books, audio books–we did them all, and some days that’s all we did. But I’m saying goodbye to my initial mommy guilt, because at this stage of my kids’ lives, I feel like a strong foundation in literacy will propel them as they get older. At least it’s what I’m banking on. I could be in for a lot of trouble later on if the theory doesn’t play out. . . .
Changed it up a little.
Although I’d spent a lot of time last summer researching curriculum, I really didn’t know what would work for us until we’d given it a fair chance. For the most part I’m happy with the curriculum we’ve chosen, but when I found myself craving a bit more creativity, we switched up the regular workbooks with more subject-related activities and projects.
Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers are gold-mines, and a “home” subscription to Brain Pop, Jr. has been a great resource–not to mention fun for the kids. I even gave in and bought some dollar store cartoon character workbooks that took the place of our regular math one week. You know it’s a good move if the kids are begging to do more math.
Followed Their Interests.
I’m a big believer that kids learn best when they’re having fun–when their schoolwork isn’t a chore, but something they want to be involved in, and know more about. Not that it can be this way 100% of the time–but at least for now while my kids are young I want them to develop a good attitude about learning so that when it’s time to talk about ancient history again in 5th grade they don’t grumble–instead they’re excited because they remember creating their own cave paintings and building pyramids with sugar cubes and because they remember loving history.
So–another lesson in flexibility for me–I’ve been trying to be okay with straying from my curriculum plan and taking some time to let them discover. At first I was very stressed about this–wondering how we’d ever get caught up. But now I’m taking a deep breath and realizing that little seeds of inquisition are being planted.
So, maybe we’ll get through our books before the end of the year, maybe we won’t. But they love learning, and I’m even beginning to see application, like in this comment I heard just today:
“Mommy, I was thinking, since owls can move their heads in all directions, I guess they must have really loose pivot joints in their necks.” Music to my ears.
Call me sneaky mom, but games are a great way to help teach life skills called “taking turns,” “working as a team,” and “getting along.” And these “life skills” are definitely some we need around here, as in the spirit of reality, I’m admitting that my kids fight–a lot. From stupid arguments about who gets the favorite fork at breakfast, to full-on hair-pulling, face-scratching, three-year-old brawls. And despite the nightly scripture reading and regular family night discussions on being a peacemaker, sometimes they can be downright mean to each other.
So we’ve played games. I’m not saying we’ve reached a state of being best friends, but I have noticed a few more moments of peace and sharing lately. And of course, games also fall into that above category of learning best when they’re having fun! (They barely notice they’re doing math with this fun card game!)
Despite the frustration and lessons I’m having to learn, school is going well, and after entertaining a stretch of “flexibility,” I am starting to get my groove back. We’re settling back into a routine and I’m anxious to share those weekly Project Homeschool posts again!
Linked to Homegrown Learners