Saturday, November 12, 2011

Things I've learned while home schooling

Simple list of things I've learned about my my family while home schooling. I'm sure this list will grow. We are only a few months into this journey!

1.) You will relearn their cries. Remember when your kids were itty bitty and the first 6 weeks all you could do was hopelessly throw everything at them when they cried? They'd cry and you'd start the what-do-you-need routine. Pick them up. Check the diaper. Check the clock. Hunger? Feed them. Pat them. Check clothing for irritants. Try to remember what you ate that day. (Maybe that was just me with a dairy sensitive child who I was breast feeding.) Check the clock again. Bounce them. Turn them over. Put them in a swing. Take them out of a swing. Rinse. Repeat as needed. Hopefully somewhere in that cycle you figured it out. And after a while your parent senses were honed into exactly which cry needed which response. We want to call it good parenting but honestly it's more like Pavlov and his dogs. You just know.

With older kids I had unlearned their cries. The first 6 weeks were hard. I was second guessing a lot. Is the school work too hard or is this amount of fussing normal for making wrinkles in their brains? Was that the you're-pushing-me-to-hard whine or the I-stayed-up-tooo-late-reading whine? Is that the I'm-bored wiggle or the I-really-need-to-go-play wiggle? And it took a while to relearn my children. Which is honestly a terrible thing to realize. It makes me wonder how many other areas of life I was simply unplugged from.

2) You will find the most amazing gaps in what they know. Maybe it isn't so bad if your children haven't been in public school previously. My children both know all they need to know to pass test. Fi is an amazing test taker. But learning why the math works the way it does has been absolutely daunting to her. G knows that Pluto is no longer a planet but he doesn't know why Neptune has that name or the names of the other planets. Ideas that seem like they would naturally be grouped with other ideas are missing. I don't blame it all on public education. I think we all select what to remember. But when you keep seeing gaps across all areas of what your children know it's absolutely amazing. So far this year has been a little bit of moving forward in their educations and  a LOT about filling in the little gaps so that we are able to do next years work.

3) You learn what they need even if it seems unnecessary at first. I always do devotional time on my own, in my own head space alone. I think God understands he's got a student on his hands who won't read the catchy phrase or easy to remember bible verse accept it and move on. I want to know why it was said and by who and in what context. I want to know if the Greek translation agrees. I want to know if other people read it differently. I might completely disagree and come back to it in a few days. But when I'm done wrestling with it it'll be mine. I'll be able to silently own it. Or I might have to wait (sometimes YEARS) to get the ah-ha moment. I don't think this is wrong. I think this is how my own faith works.

My children, however, just need devotional time. Sometimes I read them a very simple devotional, we look up the scripture it was based on and decided if we agreed or read it differently. Then we pray. Out loud. (Another thing I'm not big on. When I'm emptying my heart a lot of times it's just pure emotion pushed out and not a lot of words.) Sometimes the kids ask to pray for family members. No reason just want to. Sometimes we pray to just get through the day cause we're all ready to kill each other an it's only 8 in the morning. Sometimes it's for a wounded animal we saw. Whatever. The days we do devotional time go *WAY* smoother. Maybe it's the shift in focus outside of our little lives and towards something more universal. Maybe they need a reminder that God exist. I don't know. But if I forget to take 10 minutes and do it the entire day runs a lot rougher.

So for me devotional time can happen whenever. But for the kids it needs to be daily before school work. I don't know why but they need it.

They also need snacks about 10 or they will start bugging each other so much they won't be able to focus. G need daily outside time. Fi needs reassurance that she's a good student. G has to read science lessons out loud or they don't get absorbed. Fi needs absolute quite to focus. Neither of them can split attention so a TV on in the same house makes them ADD. There's things they just need.

4) I need me time. If I don't get "me time" terrible things happen. When I worked in Nashville and lived in Gallatin I loved my drive. I know thousands of other commuters didn't and would have rammed my car if they realized I was really enjoying the time on the road. It was my down time. I could let my thoughts wander and listen to the music I liked and prepare myself for the day or evening. Get my game face on. By the time I got to work I had remembered my to-do list for the day and was ready to start drawing graphics. But the time I got home I was ready to pile on the bed with stories from their day and really listen. Assuming I wasn't home so late that I missed all that, which did happen sometimes.

Now that we're home all the time and the children are always with me (we can't yet afford activities that might take one child somewhere without the rest of us) I have to make it a little more of a priority. Otherwise I get burn out really quickly. And they do too.

5) My kids are amazing. Being around them all the time has shown me the little pieces of their personality that otherwise I might have missed. G is a terrible reader yes, but you can throw advanced math at him and he rolls with it. Fi is very impatient with me and her brother but she loooves D so much. He can do anything from her point of view. Now that we have time to make sure to do a 10 minute tidy before D gets home from work the kids are crazy cleaning machines. It's amazing to watch.

I can't wait to see what else we all learn on this journey. At Christmas I've got to really evaluate if we're going to keep going or if they need to re-enter public school next fall and it's going to be a hard decision. I'm feeling a strong need to contribute to our family income (even though I'm not sure how my skill set would fit in the Northwoods) but really happy with how home schooling has gone so far. Also at Christmas I'm going to have to purchase more math curriculum for G cause he's blown through what I bought for the year. Hopefully as our house in TN is sold and we're able to find another car some of the stress of being home constantly will pass. And who knows maybe I'll find something that the area needs that I can do from home.

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