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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Okay, now what do I do?

I have struggled since pulling Camille out of public school with self-discipline. While she was in school, I had to leave the house at 7:15 am every morning in order to drive her to her school (no bus system) on time. During the 30-40 minute drive, we'd chat or listen to the radio, on the way home I'd listen to Christian Talk Radio. The same routine in the afternoons, I'd leave at 2:30 pm every afternoon to pick up and have a chance again to listen to Christian Talk Radio before our "after-school chat". I don't have that daily feeding of God's word through an interesting speaker anymore, I don't even get to drive a car alone much anymore!

Now I have no where to be at any particular time, no restrictions on our time whatsoever. At first I was okay because I was so determined to have the "perfect homeschool" so I was determined to follow a schedule and pretty much have school at home. "Relax" others told me, so I did. Then I kept reading homeschooling book after homeschooling book about having a relaxed, unschooling type of atmosphere and how discipline should be in the home, how as Christians we should be raising our children. This is so daunting when you're first starting out, I didn't realize how much I was taking on when we make the decision to try homeschooling.

For a year now I've been reading, talking to other homeschoolers and praying for discernment. I still don't feel like I have it together! There is an insecurity that looms all the time: "Am I teaching enough?", "Is my attitude right?", "Is the behavior my child is showing something I need to correct or let go?", "Are they learning anything?" and so on and so on. I finally got over the fear of using the wrong curriculum, Camille is doing well with the products I've chosen and I am quite pleased. I am not a slave to the curriculum like I see so many of my homeschooling peers doing, I have no problem using creative solutions to utilize the curriculum we already have instead of buying/trying something new.

For example, we had serious problems with narration. She was not narrating at all, I referred to the homeschooling books and they offered suggestions but most said a child should be able to retell the story in their own words at age 6. Well, tell Camille that! So, I toyed with the idea of making a narration page for her until I saw History Scribe's product. I realized I could add it to the SOTW Student pages and it has been good (not perfect) ever since. We do the narrations together, if she stumbles or can't find her words, I tell her how I would narrate and have her retell my narration. Am I doing it right? Who knows. I feel it's a maturity issue, as well as a confidence issue with her. She desperately wants to get it right and doesn't understand that it's about her reaction to what was read, not the absorption of the facts. She actually prefers reading the narration questions and answers in the student pages but I've moved her away from that.

All the self-doubt, insecurity and other feelings of unworthiness wears on you and it can either make you determined to overcome them or shrivel up into a ball. I'm in the middle right now, intellectually I know what I need to do but emotionally and putting the "plan in my head" into action is feeling a little like trying to climb Mt. Everest without any gear. Danny soon to be 3 is a full-time job all by himself, the puppy can't be left alone at any time, Camille has picked up on my "relaxed state of mind" and needs a jolt too...urgh. I don't have the restrictions on my time, I don't have any pressing engagements and I don't have any repercussions for being "relaxed"!

How do I get from HERE: I know what I'm doing now is not working, I have an idea of how to improve it but don't have the confidence that I'll actually follow through! Procrastination, excuses, taking on other projects to avoid other ones, etc.
to . . .
HERE: Our day goes like clockwork, everyone knows that to expect and what to do at certain times and it is done with a joyful heart. Daily we are fulfilling our goals and reaping the rewards of our hard work. "I am" relaxed only when I know the work is done.



Anonymous said...

Welcome to the real world! There were times I felt like whacking you upside the head when you seemed to have it all together and me trying to homeschool four felt like I was drowning.

My advice is a realistic schedule with benchmarks as a guideline (a radio show at a certain time, meals, a walk, that kind of thing). It works and will work.

Your will to do this right is much more than some people have.


Anonymous said...

Wow - how's that for a million dollar question!

I think balance in the home - like homeschooling - will be different for everyone. Some will thrive on Managers of the Homes strict schedule, others need a to-do list to get it all done, others a weekly schedule. I think you have to be realistic about what works for you - and do that. For example, I am a box checker. I have a weekly HS schedule and we check boxes as we go. Other than that, I don't really have a schedule. We just have to finish everything I put in the boxes. Some days schools at 8 - other days it's 2. No problem. Dh is good with it, the kids are good with it, I'm good with it - and we're making great progress. If I see us falter - we add something to the list to check off (we recently added in Leading Little Ones at your suggestions - it ROCKS!). I have a friend who's kids are the smae age as mine plus 18 months. Her life is totally different. She has 2 girls. They are ultra compliant. They read for 2 hours a day, they sit still, they LIVE in a schedule. That's great - for them! It would NOT work in my house and trying to make it work would drive us all nuts. It's taken me a year to come to the conclusion that what works for them is great - and what works for me is great.

It's even affected my cirriculum choices. I like boxes - and my little one isn't quiet ready for full WTM - so next year we'll do MFW. That's great - for me! I am letting go of the guilt and pressure that I'm not full WTM/classical yet, and it's OK. I have time. I just remind myself every day - consistent effort over the long haul will get us there. And, character training is primary, with that academics will come. It's like the eating an elephant analogy - a little every day (and how you do that is up to YOU and YOUR family not peer pressure or culture) and you will be there in no time!

Hope that crazy long-winded answer helps to lessen some stress and pressure!

Love your blog!!!

Judy Aron said...

One way is to ask your kids to help you solve the problem.. have a "meeting with them all".. start with a prayer of course..then ask them how its going... let them know you think there is a problem and how would they solve it.. have them participate in it so that they have ownership and a stake at making things work better.

Kids I think respond better when they know that they are helping fix a problem rather than being part of the problem to begin with..and they also don't want to be told what to do all the time.. they need the ability to make some of the rules too.. and they certainly don't want a mommy who is unhappy and grouchy.

Well that's my idea..

I love your blog too!

Tammy said...

Before you ask "what should we do", figure out what it is you believe education is for in the first place.

I don't mean things like "learn XYZ by the time she's 6". I mean figure out what learning is FOR, what it means to be fully human, what it means to be successful, and the what kind of childhood you want your children to have to look back on.

In other words, make family goals, put them on a list, and post them. Every time you do something, or don't do something, ask yourself - does this thing help us move towards our family educational goals?

Then, after some time, review your goals, tweak them if you need, then continue.

We've make some family goals that are along the lines of letting everyone define for themselves what is success, helping each other achieve goals and meeting each other's needs, being free to meet our own needs or ask for help in doing that, resourcefulness, a desire to grow in some way although that way is not to be determined ahead of time, allowing ourselves space to take advantage of opportunities.. stuff like that.

So, we hardly think of the "what's", and think predominantly of the "why's". We're so used to it now, we know pretty quickly if a project is wasting our time or isn't worth the price in a weakened family relationship. We also know pretty quickly if we've been slacking, cuz we start to feel like life is boring or that we're hanging around wasting the world's resources rather than being an active part of the world and making it a better place by our actions (that's one of our family goals).

I think that when we know *who* we are, and we let each family decide who they are, and we have very clear, thought-out family goals (big ones, life-arching ones), then the whats become a lot easier. Because the details aren't important - the big picture is. When we are free to let the details work themselves out, rather than trying to control every detail along the way, it's much easier to get to our destination. It's also a lot more enjoyable.

I also believe that nothing academic is EVER worth the price of making a family relationship weaker. Relationships ALWAYS trump academics. You can always go back and make up missing academia, but it's much harder, and sometimes impossible, to repair relationships (including the relationship with ourselves).

Good luck, big hugs, and you can do it! :) (my edu blog)