Monday, October 25, 2010

A little kink.

Homeschooling only two days a week is really hard.  Much harder than I thought.  There is so much that I want to do with the kids but it's just not possible to accomplish it in the two days we have available.  Thankfully, the curriculum I chose (CHC) includes lesson plans that are well thought out, detailed and allow for situations just like ours!  They suggest concentrating only on the "core" subjects and keeping the enrichment activities to a minimum so as not to become overwhelmed.  This is good advice, however, I find myself somewhat overwhelmed even with the core subjects.  The bottom line:  There is so much I want to do, but I can't and I'm extremely frustrated!

Financially, it's necessary for Dan and I to both work.  Ever since the kids were born, we've worked part time.  Initially, this was so that they wouldn't have to go to day care.  We didn't want to do that for two reasons....#1, we didn't want somebody else to raise our kids and #2, day care is so expensive that we figured most of my salary would have gone to pay for it, thereby defeating the purpose of both of us working in the first place.  A vicious circle.

Then, of course, there's the issue of health insurance.  Both employers offer it, but the plan offered through the Diocese of St. Augustine (Dan's employer) is much, much more expensive than the plan offered by my employer.  So, I guess it would be fair to say that I'm actually working for health benefits.  Dan works Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays and I work Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  I homeschool the kids on Mondays & Tuesdays.  I try to cram as much as I can into those 2 days, but sometimes, I think it's just too much for them.  Amelia (1st Grade) and Olivia (PreK) seem to be doing fine, but Nathan (4th Grade) is staring to have trouble. 

Dan has never been too keen on the whole idea of homeschooling.  He just feels like he doesn't have the personality or, frankly, the desire to do this.  I work really hard to get as much done as I can in those two days so that he doesn't have to deal with much.  Some weeks we've been able to get everything done.  Other times, I've had to leave him with all the materials and detailed instructions on what needs to get done.  He isn't as structured as I am and there are times when, well, nothing gets done.  Unfortunately, that means that we start a new week with assignments not done from the week before.

Nathan is really feeling the pressure and it shows in his attitude.  I believe myself to be very flexible, but I don't mind admitting that I'm scared to death of getting behind.   Somehow, I feel that if I don't follow the lesson plans to a "T" (and cross off each task accordingly), then he won't finish 4th grade at the same time his peers will and then....and then....and then, well, I don't know what would happen then.  Perhaps I would be labeled as a failure!  Perhaps the county school superintendent will have me arrested!   Perhaps if it becomes necessary to re-enroll in school, he won't be ready for 5th grade and everyone will decide it's my fault!  Perhaps all those who said that homeschooling was a bad idea (and there were a few) would say "I told you so", or, "I knew you couldn't do it"!  Of course, it's all about ME!

The truth is, I wish I could homeschool full time!  If I had 5 days, instead of 2, there wouldn't be so much pressure on me or the kids.  I'm not sure how to rectify this situation.  I've tried saving some of the lessons for the evenings or the weekends, but honestly, life gets in the way.  There's soccer practice, soccer games, Bible study, CCD, art classes, etc.  If Nathan has a lesson to do, but the girls don't, then this causes a ruckus because he's having to work and they don't!  Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah!

I know that a lot of this is my control issues, but, I've only got 8 weeks of homeschooling under my belt so far!  I'm not experienced enough to know what is OK to reduce or eliminate from our school day.  My original intention was to make it to morning mass at least once a week but if I do that, then we don't get started until almost 10am and then we're still working while I'm making dinner and when Dan comes home from work. 

OK, I'll stop complaining now.  However, I would ask that if any of you seasoned homeschooling moms have any advice or words of wisdom, PLEASE SHARE IT!  Otherwise, I would appreciate a prayer or two for the wisdom to do the right thing!  Thanks!


Mum2eight said...

oh Nancy,

I am sure every home school mother has moments of doubts and fears everyone thinking what a bad idea that was.

This year has been super hard for me even though we have been doing home school for 3 years. Having a baby and not always been able to do things at the time that I wanted has stressed me out a lot. I discussed seriously with Steve sending the children back to school last term because I felt like they weren't get nearly as much attention as was needed. I spoke with other home schooling mothers and asked their advise. After that, I looked at the schedule and decided that we would do prayer, spelling, literacy, maths, reading and catechism lessons each day. If we had time when this was over, I would do an extra lesson with them like cooking, sewing, blogging, sport etc if you get the idea.

I also started to think outside the weekdays only for home school. I started telling Tom and Amelia that anything that hadn't been finished during the week, would be done on a Saturday morning. This actually was a great motivator to them to get everything set done. They don't want to do home school on the weekend since their siblings are not.

I will pray for you and your program. I hope others have some ideas and help for you too.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Your school week needs to be Saturday through Tuesday -- no exceptions. And if outside activities get in the way then they need to go. If you want homeschooling to work, you have to accommodate. School must always come first and the children need to understand that. School does not change for you, you change for school. That may sound odd because so many homeschoolers talk about getting school done here and there, but you don't have that option with being out of the house for three full days. And if your husband isn't planning to do the work, and never signed up for this, then you have to stop expecting him to (tough love here). Start planning your weeks to go from Saturday to Tuesday and leave Weds., Thurs. and Friday as their off days or getting-anything-done-that-wasn't-done days. And when work isn't finished from Saturday to Tuesday, then you have to do it in the evenings when you get home. You can definitely do it, Nancy. You just need to think outside the box -- outside a "normal" schedule. People who work third shift get used to sleeping during the day, and people who work weekends get used to have days off during the week. You just have to adjust your thinking. Email me if you need more support!

Anonymous said...

Praying for you, dear friend! Take a deep breath!

Frizzy and Bird said...

I'm not a homeschooling mom but I have an idea of how to visualize and deduce what's important or not.

Here's a visual tool. Write the goal or emotion you feel now in the center of a piece of paper. Circle it. Now, begin writing all the things that make you feel that emotion or things standing in your way of accomplishing that goal. Circle each of them and draw a line from each of those circles to the main circle. Next, begin crossing out the items you see or believe you can get rid of to help accomplish that goal or reduce that feeling. Hopefully you'll begin to see what's really important and what can be taken out of the equation. I hope this makes sense.

Ask yourself, what is/was the reason I wanted to homeschool? What did I feel I could give/teach my kids at home that a public or private school wouldn't or can't?

Maybe asking these questions will help you get back to what's important and reduce the stress caused by the pressure you put on yourself to follow the curriculum so closely.

I hope this helps.

Sarah Oldham said...

I think Barbara has said what I would say. I have the luxury of staying home with my son (and when all three were home) . . . but because I am not a disciplinarian (much!) I could not get my kid(s) structured to a schedule and it always seemed we were finishing up at the last damn minute on just about everything.
With Christian, this year, I am living and thinking more "outside the box". Who cares if he doesn't finish today? He can choose to put in extra time after dinner, double it the next day or spend the weekend finishing. Each week starts out ON TIME no matter what. School is FIRST - and when he chooses to put it last, he finds out he's shooting himself in the foot. Again, we have this flexibility.
I would venture to say that even if your kids were in public/private school, you would be busy with them in the evenings with their projects and homework - right?
I might try incentives: ice cream outing on Sunday after Mass for those who complete their work by Friday.
I hear your frustration and feel your pain. I've been there many times. Hang in there - don't give up! Praying for you.

Abbey said...

I applaud any mother who chooses to homeschool. It's serious time with the children, and fun comes later. I wonder, however, if by being homeschooled, the children miss out on some of the activities offered at school, i.e., sports, music, a circle of good friends. My three g-babies were in parochial school. It became too expensive and there was no choice except public school. Fortunate for us, we live in a small town that has execellent public school system. My grandchildren have THRIVED. All made straight A's and have very active social lives, including sports outside of school. I'll never complain about having to help get one child to one practice or ballgame because there are three children and two parents. I love it and they have so many friends. It's so great to watch them play.

We have friends who homeschool - their children don't have many friends and the only outside activities are done with their parents.

I don't know, this is just what I see.

Abbey ♥

Anonymous said...

My 25 year old son just received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He was homeschooled in a very relaxed manner all through K-8. DO NOT WORRY! He was a National Merit Finalist and had colleges knocking on our door to offer scholarships. Basically he just read, wrote, did Math and studied the Faith in K-8. High school is the time for the tight structure. Enjoy these years with your young ones. They go so very quickly.

Nancy said...

Thank you all so much for your prayers and suggestions. From what I gather from your comments, many of you have been at the same place I am now. It's sure good to know that there are survivors of the First Year of Homeschooling out there!

We've decided to do a schedule change (thanks Barbara!) and see how it goes! I definitely feel better that I have a plan.