Oh well. Frankly, after doing this whole homeschooling thing for almost five months now, I have absolutely no clue how some of these homeschooling mommy blogging gurus write a post a day. Or several a day. Are their children writing the posts for them for Creative Writing? Probably, as is more likely, they have trained their children to work independently and not disappear to the backyard mud hole when you take a break to go pee while they doing their math.
I've been asked several times lately,
"So... how is homeschooling going?"
The people usually appear genuinely interested, albeit a tad concerned. I think most of them are honestly just asking how it is going. They are not, as I am apt to believe, actually asking, "So... have you come back to your senses yet? Is your daughter a weirdo yet? Are you drinking Sangria in the bathroom on a regular basis?"
Here is my answer:
Homeschooling is good. It is the rest of it that I haven't got figured out-- balancing the grocery shopping, the laundry, meals, appointments, errands. I know that with homeschooling, family life just runs into everything else. But that's tough for me. I like doing certain activities solo or just having peace and quiet exactly when I want it. Homeschooling has been a lesson in self-sacrifice for me, but ultimately, I am thankful for it (as uncomfortable and tiring a lesson as it might be at the time.)
The Good (or rather, The Things That Show Me That We Did The Right Thing With This Homeschooling Business)We have already seen some big improvements in the areas that were of concern: attitude, reading and writing.
Our life is slowing back down to a happier speed. No more hair-pulling school car lines and hearing all the garbage that she learned on the playground. Anna and Noah play out in the sand and dig up worms while I watch the school bus drive by-- little kindergarteners getting home from school at dinnertime. I feel thankful that doesn't have to be my kids.
I am discovering new stuff out about my daughter everyday. Anna hates coloring books. She likes logic puzzles. She would rather figure out her math problems on her own, but she still wants me to sit next to her. She loves Little House on the Prairie and Amish primer readers.
Learning world history together has been been amazing. I could read to her about history all day and she would be happy. The study has brought about so many fantastic discussions and God and humankind and life in general.
I love having her home. Of course, there are days when I just want a Me Party. But for the most part, it just feels right and well, normal, to have her home during the day.
We've had many comments from loved ones that say the same thing: "Big difference. She is happier. She is calmer."
The Bad (or rather, The Things That Need Some Work)We need a group.
We have been attending a wonderful renegade Classical Conversations group, but it is an hour drive to get there. I love the moms. I love the kids. I just wish I could transplant them ten minutes from my home. Anna really needs some homeschooling buddies. I need other like-minded homeschool moms nearby who I can call and say, "Phooey. Let's all meet at the park this morning." I am coming to realize that support is imperative.
The other thing that needs quite a bit of tweaking is my schedule. I need to find a balance of structure and flexibility. As an artist, I can be very flexible. I have flexible down pat.
The problem is that I have never been good at the whole schedule thing. It never ever works for me, longer than five minutes. However, I think what might work is HABIT. I am actually a very habitual person-- with both good and bad habits. Routine, I can do. Schedule, I cannot. Trying to figure out what to do about this realization and how to utilize it for effective homeschooling.
The Ugly (or rather, The Things That..Oh Help Me, I Didn't Know It Was Going To Be This Hard)Toddlers and homeschooling. Just typing that caused me to pull my hands up to my eyes and lean back and heave a sigh.
It is so stinkin' difficult to get anything done with a toddler. We really use Noah's Mother's Day Out day to our advantage, and we school through nap times every afternoon. Sometimes Jason takes Noah out and we get work done. But other than that, it is like stealth homeschool. Is Noah playing with his cars quietly? Quick! Let's do spelling!!! (Of course, immediately, he comes over to shake the table and holler that he wants Cheerios.) It's frustrating.
I know this is just a stage, but it's just so exhausting. I would say that Toddler Maintenance has been my Number One challenge. We eat a lot of Cheerios around here.
So, there it is. We have survived. I dare say we have thrived. I have to keep telling myself that we are new at this home education business and still getting it figured out. I will be interested to see what our home looks like in a year...