First Days

We’re back to work.  It’s our second third day of official homeschooling for the 2010/11 year, and only one person has cried (not me) and it wasn’t about homeschooling work.  While that benchmark may make standards seem a bit low, I take that statistic as a sign of a successful start.   As of day three, my younger is up to about 3/4 speed, while my older is all the way in (He actually began with an online Latin class (via Lone Pine Classical School) two weeks ago.)   I’m probably at 1/2 speed and still feeling tired.  I’ll hopefully catch up.

No one jumped for joy on Tuesday, proclaiming the wonders of more structured learning, replete with assignments with deadlines and work to be done before “screen time” is allowed.  That’s okay with me, although I’d love to announce that they’d been begging for essays to write and math problems to solve.  Some of the many homeschooling catalogues I’ve received quote parents who say that as soon as the box of materials arrived that their kids were begging to “start school”.  Hasn’t happened here yet.  Sure, the box from Home Science Tools was unpacked with reverence by my older (Oh, look at this distillation column, Mom!  And the volumetric flask!  Wow!), and my younger waxes about how this year he’ll learn to type, but unbridled enthusiasm for the whole thing?  Not here.

I met this Fall with a fair amount of trepidation, truth be told.  My younger’s anxiety about writing, piano, spiders, Karate, daily schedules, lunch, and the rest of life has been high.  Really high.  All three of us are an anxious lot, but his manifests in tantrums and resistance.  Loud, long resistance.  And did I mention the tantrums?  I’ve spent the summer dreading his reactions to assignments this fall, but, so far, he’s been handling the work well.  Thanks to a fine therapist for him, some increased attention to spiritual practice for me, and a ton of discussion with him about concerns (his and mine) and goals (his and mine), we’re okay.  So far.

My older has a heavy load this fall, much to his own choosing.  He’s suffering from his usually planning issues, or rather failing to plan issues.  I’m writing out a weekly schedule with assignments from me, but he’s responsible for adding his assignments from Lone Pine Classical School (Latin) , Online G3 (Literary Study of Lord of the Rings), and Chemistry (okay, that’s from me, but I refuse to write the stuff down twice.).  I’m also asking him to keep a daily log of what he does, which I hope will help him plan his day and not leave all that work for the last minute.  “I’ll do it later,” is not adequate scheduling for a kid with a healthy dose of ADD.  I often remind him that later isn’t a good time for him, given it’s booked with so many things already.  He seems to take that comment well, although I’m sure I’m adding talking points for him and his therapist once he’s an adult.  He has plenty of those already, but I’d hate to see him short of issues.

This is my sixth year homeschooling.  I started as an “emergency homeschooler,” when my older was bored and frustrated in second grade;  his father and I pulled him out to better meet his academic needs.  Now, despite the trepidation I’ve felt this year, I’m in for the long haul.  Or at least for as long a haul as works for them and for me.  It’s been delightful, when not utterly exhausting, to be intimately involved with their learning, learning that is far from linear but rather comes in fits and spurts, one skill bounding ahead while another takes a rest.  I’ve learned (usually) when to back off and when to urge forward, when to challenge more and when to keep it simple.  I’ve honed my parenting skills, watched stages wax and wane, worried plenty, and smiled much more.  And I simply treasure the time I spend with my kids.  So with all my trepidation and plans, I welcome our 2010/11 homeschooling year and all it holds for my boys and I.  How is your start to the year going?


8 thoughts on “First Days

  1. Tomorrow is the end of our second week. So far so good. There haven’t been the tantrums I’d expected with getting back into the swing of things. The hardest part right now is trying to distract my 18 month old while trying to work with my 7 year old. It’s completely exhausting and wonderful at the same time! I love that she can ask me questions like, “mom, do you think the Egyptians mind being dug up from their tombs?” and we can have a great discussion without me having to wonder if that is what she has been studying in school!

    • I’m glad your start is going well. Knowing what the kids are learning is a delight for me, too (and your daughter’s question about the Egyptians could lead to a whole bunch of other discussions!). The balance with a little one is hard. My boys are only 4 years apart, but when I had one at 7 and one at 3, the mechanics of getting anything done with my older were my biggest challenge. I’d attend to my three-year-old’s needs and turn back to my older only to find he’d wandered off to play. May your year continue to be tantrum-free, or at least relatively peaceful!

  2. I love hearing about how you balance your needs with the boys Sarah. If we ever become a homeschool family, I will definitely be picking your brain.

  3. We are in our 5th week, due to an early start. All is going well. However, isn’t worry a constant companion in the home-school journey? I always think we need to do more, yet I also realize that we need enough time to relax and have fun. I guess it is the parenting dilemma: we need our children to become independent adults, yet, we need to enjoy our journey and shouldn’t be too focussed on the future.

    • Paula, the worry companion never seems to leave my side. I like to alternate worries, just to keep it interesting, worrying one day that we’re not home enough to get anything done and worrying the next that we’re far too serious at home. If they were in school, I’m sure I’d find other worried. Such is parenthood! Glad to hear your year is progressing well.

  4. Our week is going as well as I can expect. I am glad to hear that my children aren’t the only ones who get defiant when anxious, and glad to hear too that increasing your spiritual practice has helped you all. That’s my goal too. Glad to know that things are going well in your home and with your boys.

  5. It sounds like our start has been much like yours. My kids would like to be complete unschoolers with unlimited freedom (and would probably do reasonably well with it), but I keep insisting on throwing some semblance of structure at them. My youngest has been a bear all week as he has to deal with curtailing of some of his “freedoms”. I had to take away their “Age of the Empires” game for weekend use only, despite their protests that it’s entirely educational (well, maybe it was the first few hundred times they played it, lol) and in no way, shape or form a mere “video game”.

    Sometimes I think my life would be so much easier if I just started September with unschooling, rather than struggling for months and ending up there anyway by June. Maybe I still will…

    Thanks for sharing what’s up at your house!

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