Friday, September 25

A Day of Classes

...can take over your life.

Tho it's not my first reason for homeschooling, I do this thing because I want to be in control of my kids' education. I want to customize it. I want to build up their weaknesses by using their strengths. I want to be able to say, "That's enough" when I can tell they're are mentally checked out. I want to cross out rows of math problems when they "get it" and just do enough to keep them fit.

Under the guise of "enrichment" I enrolled my kids in a one day a week program for homeschoolers. And the homework from just that one day a week took over our life this week. I don't know if my kids felt pressure, but I sure did. All those overachiever, people-pleasing feelings came rushing back to me this week as I tried to not only implement the lessons I had planned for our family but to also incorporate the lessons these other teachers imparted to us.

It drove me nuts.

You can be sure I'm doing some deep thinking about this.

Tuesday, September 15

My Toddler Toolbox

It's a big question...."What do you do with your youngest while you school the other children?"

Here's what I have available for S who is now 3.
  • Play-dough and lots of things to cut and shape it with.
  • Sticker books.
  • Scissors and scrap paper he can cut up...and a glue stick so he can make a collage with it.
  • Color Wonder books, paper and markers.
  • Colorful straws cut into 1 inch "beads" to string onto shoelaces.
  • White paper and random stickers.
  • His own "math book" to scribble in.
  • Paintbrushes, construction paper and water to paint with.
  • Legos.
  • Crayons and coloring pages.
  • Felt shapes to arrange on a flannelboard.
  • Markers to use on the whiteboard.
  • Laundry piles to jump in.
  • A sandbox in the secure backyard.
What tools do you use to entertain your smallest people?

Monday, September 14

A Quote to Remind Me...

"Circumstance does not make me,

it reveals me."

{ william james }

Friday, September 11

Lessons After Two Weeks

1. Flex. When you have company (as we did early in the week) move "school" around so that the company can maintain some sense of having their own space. Oh, and if you let the company play with the toddler then everyone wins.

2. Hand it over. Let others speak into your kids' learning. We had a co-op on Tuesday where Liese got my kids thinking about homophones, alliteration and other linguistic ideas. Then I followed up for the next two days with corresponding activities. Cool.

3. Plug in. If you can involve a computer then do it. J is doing two full subjects using a computer curriculum this year, we are learning some HTML, we looked up Colorado scenery for our notebooks and we did some online searching for information. Everyone likes school better when we crowd around the monitor.

4. Change. We finally heard back from a one-day-a-week public program for homeschoolers and we quickly got all the info in order to take them to their first day today. J is taking Pre-Algebra, P.E. Art, Yearbook/Journalism and possibly Theater Arts. B is taking Computers, Science, Art, Language Arts, P.E. and Karate. (Let me say that with B's emphasis... KARATE!!!!) And they also get to eat PIZZA for lunch (with equal emphasis). I hope they're having a good time because I'm feeling a little lost today with just S at home.

And now we're off to the mountains for the weekend! It's been an up-and-down kind of a week for our fam. It will be good to chill.

Friday, September 4

Lessons after a Week

1. I cannot leave the room while they are working. Because if I do anything else in any other room, it's like their focus leaves the room with me.

2. Our 3 year old will NOT take an interest in playing alone in his room unless he has to go in there to poop in his pants.

3. I cannot have ANY computer time until our work is done. Or else we won't get started again for a long time.

4. I will give them extra time to explore something if they are showing an interest. We are studying computer science and so they are learning some HTML. This requires some trial and error at the computers. I'm not pushing them through and everyone is happy...and learning.

6. I cannot say, "Let's do our last activity after lunch." It will not happen. My to-do list will simply take over my day. I just give them a snack and push through until the work is done.

What lessons are you learning or being reminded of this school year?

Wednesday, September 2

"You Are Accepted Here Just as You Are"

We say this phrase at our church every week, but I've never felt the benefits of this phrase more than I felt today. However, it didn't come from my church community. It came from my all-walks-of-life-and-we-like-it-that-way homeschool group.

We went to Park Day with our group this afternoon. It was a huge turn out today with maybe 15 families. My Bigs like to go and play Nerf gun wars* with the other boys. In fact they were completely motivated to get all school work done by 11:30 so they could go.

*I've given up on trying to keep them away from play guns. While I don't buy them for the boys or let them have them at home, I realize that boys will turn everything into a gun and I'm just going to have to be okay with that.

J has some difficulty with separating reality from fiction. He can also be impulsive, explosive and commandeering. So, when he pushed another boy down I knew it was play in his mind but I also knew that the other boy did not consider it to be playful.

Then he ran and jumped on J and wrestled him to the ground and before my eyes they were going at it like two jocks in a schoolyard. Dang. That was my kid.

I broke it up and the other mom came running and we had the conversations that needed to be had with our sons. Apologies were made. No one was hurt and I don't think the boys have hard feelings for one another. But the embarrassment kind of sticks with everyone, you know?

So, I walked back to the circle-of-moms who inquired about the scene. I gave them the short version -- feeling foolish, feeling inadequate, feeling completely embarrassed and stupid. And although they didn't say the phrase word for word they did say:
  • "That's okay."
  • "That's what park day is for... to learn these lessons."
  • "Are they okay?"
  • "Are YOU okay?"
  • "I have problems with anger outbursts too."
I have been a part of co-ops and Christian groups that have "discipline covenants." My son has been asked to leave two of these Christian groups because he broke the discipline covenant. I'm pretty sure that in any other place a fist-fight would have been grounds for removal.

But for us it was the grounds by which we received more acceptance and grace. Moms journeying together: It's a good thing.

Thank you, Park Group. You totally blessed me today.