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Friday, January 04, 2008

A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 2

The Lost Files
Prologue
What a Difference A Year Makes Part 1
Chapter 1: What a Difference A Year Makes Part 2
Chapter 2: Background Influences
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 1
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 2
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 1
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 2
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 1
Chapter 5: Socialization? Part 2
Chapter 6 : I thought I already knew my children! Part 1
Chapter 6 : I thought I already knew my children! Part 2
Chapter 7 : Leaving the School System Part 1
Chapter 7 : Leaving the School System Part 2
Chapter 8: Choosing Curriculum Part 1
Chapter 8: Choosing Curriculum Part 2
Chapter 9: A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 1
Chapter 9 : A Typical Homeschooling Day? Part 2

As you can see, (from part one of this post) homeschooling does not necessarily mean that we spend the whole day stuck in the house with our nose in the books. It also does not mean the children automatically become perfect angels. We do a great deal of learning outside the house as well. Here is a journal entry that demonstrates that:

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I used to think that homeschoolers sit in the house all day and struggle over math
problems and various other subjects. I was afraid the parents would eventually become resentful because it is just no fun. I was sure homeschooling was a sacrifice only a saint could handle.

If I could have just had a peek into the kind of day I had today, I would have done
it much sooner.

We got up at 8:00am as usual, did our chores and a few lessons on the computer. Then we got dressed in out Tae Kwon Do outfits and went to class, which lasted 90 minutes... We changed at the school and went directly to lunch. The restaurant we chose gave kids free meals on Tuesdays with an adult’s entree. The adult’s entree was expensive. Nevertheless, it was good food.

We had a long leisurely lunch and spent a good hour working through the puzzles and mazes on the kid’s menus. The menu puzzles where much more sophisticated than they used to be and this restaurant changes them often. Then we went to the local kid’s museum where the children, painted their own faces, dressed up in costumes, worked on computer graphics, experimented with music, saw some great illustrations and read the books to go with them. While we were there, I investigated joining an art class for myself and looked into the arts programs they have for children. We finally left around 3:30 and went to the mall to pick up some much needed items and then spent and hour at the bookstore.

There really is no sacrifice in having a day like that, is there?

Not every day is peaches and cream, of course. The occasional bad day is to be expected. I recently gathered enough nerve to record one such day.

February 16, 2004

I am always hesitant to talk about bad days when homeschooling, so as not to give the wrong impression, but yesterday was just difficult.

It started with me not getting enough sleep the night before. I was especially tired
because Jordan had a hard time going to sleep. At 1:00 AM, I found her in her room under a blanket with her television. There was obviously a bit of disobedience involved and I was at my wits end by that point. After she finally went to sleep, I found myself wide-awake and unable to fall asleep myself.

The next morning through my sleepy haze, I informed her that if she where not ASLEEP tonight by 10 (her bedtime is 9) I would unplug her cable wire, which means that the only thing that would work on her TV was her Karaoke machine. (I did not have to carry through with the threat)

I thought making a nice breakfast would change my mood. I made bacon and eggs, and the kids just picked at it. That did not change my mood at all.

For some unknown reason Jackson was especially cranky and tired as well. I worked on the computer for a little while, as they attempted their chores and lessons. Jackson whined through his entire math lesson. The problem was that he was not following the instructions; he was just trying to do the work blind. He got up after his math lesson, and Jordan sat down to do her work, but she had an awful lot of nervous energy and could not stay even a little focused. At 11:30, I realized that Jackson was missing. He was in his room doing ’nothing’. I demanded he get back on the computer and finish his lessons in his other subjects. He sulked for the next half hour about the difficulties of writing an essay until I walked him, once again, through the steps.

To top it off, our morning schedule was interrupted by an important business errand. It was the third day this week that we were interrupted and I was aggravated. Because I had to rush my children to finish what they where doing, they became even more sullen. Even though the need was urgent, it took us forever to get into the car and my frustration escalated. While I took care of business, my children stayed nearby and played electronic learning games by Leapfrog Company. When the chore was finished and we had McDonald’s for a late lunch and we all felt better.

The children and I went to the grocery store to pick up something to go with the baked beans I had put in my slow cooker in the morning. It was Wednesday, which was a church day, but by the time 7:00 pm rolled around, I was mentally and physically exhausted. The kids where tired too. Therefore, we stayed home.

Thankfully, they went to sleep...But I could not!

I guess the day could have been worse.

I hate it when we are interrupted while homeschooling. I realize it is supposed to allow flexibility, but I have yet to embrace that aspect. I think perhaps, that if my kids had more electronic learning games for the car, it would help. Perhaps someone could design a car PC. Until my husband is able to free himself to work on our family business full time, I see a lot of interrupted mornings which could lead to a lot of stress the children and me.

Homeschooling days do not usually get much worse than that. However, hard days have
to be expected. It seems the biggest factor on us having good day or not is whether our plans are interrupted. That is my own fault because I tend to be rather rigid with plans. With the recent addition of my managing a new business for my husband thrown into the equation, I need to learn how to roll with the punches and adapt to situations. There is no reason why we cannot finish an interrupted lesson later, and reading can just as easily be done in the car. With this in mind, I hope to be more relaxed and hopefully less anxious about our schedule, because I am aware that continued tension on my part will make my children tense as well.

Our homeschooling schedule has changed a bit over the year, for example, as the online program we were using improved, we no longer need to deal with word of the day and spelling bee exercises, and our schedules do not lend well with library visits, which is on the other side of town. I just purchase books online or from bookstores with my homeschooling discount card. I am finding that my children love to read. Therefore, I try to monopolize on that. I try to keep many new books in the house and look for books that teach without them even realizing it. For example, I purchased an anatomy book that with each turned page, teaches about different layers in the body starting with skin, then circulation and things of that nature. In addition, since they were consuming Magic Tree House chapter books, I purchased the study guides that go along with them. They are now more educated about the moon, mummies, storms and many other aspects of history and nature thanks to these clever book companions.

Every now and then I do my best to abandon the schedule for a day( in an attempt to
become more flexible), and I am pleased to report that my children still do activates that can easily be counted as school work. Jackson draws out plans to buildings or various machines, and then he build models from his plans. Both children love to play the piano without prompting. Jordan writes poems and short stories and even illustrates them. In addition, they both read for relaxation, especially at bedtime. I suspect that it is just a matter of time before my children have such an inclination toward natural learning and a love for knowledge that we can abandon the strict schedules altogether. I look forward to that day.

Looking back over what I have written, I can see an important lesson for myself in these Journals. It is evident on days when we have had adequate sleep that we get along well, and have good days. On day when we are over tired, crankiness and short tempers take over the household and the smallest distractions become huge roadblocks. I need to remember in the future that it may be just as well that we stay in bed for an extra hour than to spend and entire day in frustration.


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