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crunchynerd
03-07-2014, 12:45 PM
I hope this is the right place for this: was torn between "homeschool styles" and "curriculum" because this is sort of both.

I'm having a baby sometime in September. Our house is already chaotic and I'm not keeping up with housework. I'm tired and turning 41. We have next to no structure right now; about the only thing that defines my day is having to feed the kids, occasionally having to get out the door to some event, and my dire need for a nap noon-2 that makes the rest of that really really difficult.

The house is a wreck and I'm waiting for the magical mystical energy bunny to come hopping along and leave me a basket of energy eggs so that I might manage to keep up at least the basic housework...and homeschooling is almost 100% unschooling right now. What if the second trimester doesn't invigorate me with the energy I've been lacking so far?

I need suggestions. Total unschooling is not an option: DH will not support that, and also, I don't think it's what my kids need, at least not DD9...she wants and needs to make progress at certain things that she just never gets around to, left to her own devices (like her Mama, I guess!).

Workboxes look really cool...for someone else to do, of course! I don't have the space for all those towers or magazine files or boxes, one per child per subject or per day of the week, and I also know for a fact I wouldn't keep up with filling them. And my kids hate worksheets anyway, for the most part. The only one who seems to take any pleasure in being all official and schooly is the 3-year-old, who actually likes doing little worksheets now and then. The other two hate that stuff.

We tried an accordion file with a couple of worksheets per day, plus a plan that on MWF, she'd do 30 minutes of Khan Academy, and on T-Th she'd do 30 minutes of writing. It made so much sense: a week's worth of work, in a tidy little plastic backpack file that could be taken with us anywhere, and that I filled each week with a few worksheets a day and some instructions (like, 30 minutes of Khan Academy today).

I'm not sure how or why, but we just didn't keep it up. Oh, one week we were sick. Another week we had too many outings, and contrary to what I thought, doing them on the road or while we were out, was too distracting, because she had to disconnect from everything going on around her, in order to do that, and being part of the action was the whole reason we were going out, so it wasn't fair to expect her to sit in a corner doing worksheets meanwhile.

Part of it was the first trimester, but I'm just about over all that misery now, and still can't ever seem to get the house clean enough to have a friend over, let alone initiate fun projects or intentional learning. Should I reload the backpack file and try again with the worksheets? Is there a non-worksheet solution that keeps kids moving forward in measurable ways, with minimal work for Mom?

dbmamaz
03-07-2014, 01:36 PM
I mostly have sympathy. Pregnancy is miserable for me and I barely do anything when I'm pregnant. And i have never DONE any project-based schooling. But . . . well, we tried DIY.org - over the summer, I had them pick a project and work on it, anything they wanted. But they only wanted to do minecraft projects or very short fan fics. They are happier with short-and-sweet. But you could try DIY.org - let her look through and pick a project a week or something? The key is it has to inspire her. As to how it covers what 'needs' to be covered, Idk. I think to some extent kids who are self-motivated will get around to doing a lot . . but not maybe all the math they need to do. But you're going to be struggling for . . .well, for a while here. Postpartum and toddlers arent easy, either.

yeah, i mostly have sympathy . . .

crunchynerd
03-07-2014, 02:24 PM
Thanks, dbmamaz. ACtually, that was helpful because it reminded me that scaling back expectations might be the best thing, and she is really self-motivated when it comes to projects. She loves Instructables, so I'll send her to DIY.org too. The math is no biggie because Khan Academy makes it easy to keep track, and I have been studying math seriously as a side hobby for a while now, searching out depth of conceptual understanding that I missed a lot of in school, and we cover a lot of understanding in brief discussions and drawings, together.

I think the big, stress-inducing difference for me, this time, is that when DS6 was born, DD was still only 3, and when DS3 was born, DD was only 6, and DS was only just 3, so really, we were still very much in the mode of "loose, relaxed, learning-by-living" with very very little academic anything.

But this time, I will be having a new baby (and before that, being pg, and after that, just not together for a good while) into a situation where DD will be 10, DS about to turn 7, and the younger DS 3 1/2. I had figured that now that the youngest was 3, we were moving on from the baby-and-toddler stage, and I had started getting rid of all my baby stuff...!

So now, the 3-year hourglass has been turned once again, and it will be another 3 years before this baby-to-be gets past the toddler stuff, and in the meantime, my older two will be passing through the 9-12 year age category, and needing to really be past the foundational skills and into the meatier stuff.

Thank goodness life still only comes at us one day at a time. Got to remember that.

ps...just realized also, that this baby represents quite an educational opportunity for the other kids! 10 is a good age for my DD to witness the first birth she'll be old enough to remember (she was asleep during the last one), learn all about breastfeeding and cloth diapering and EC, and if we're unlucky again, witness how parents have to tag-team each other to survive colic, etc. Learning about sex, conception, implantation, pregnancy, labor, and birth, breastfeeding and raising baby, would actually be quite a unit study on its own!

quabbin
03-07-2014, 04:13 PM
Does she enjoy reading? My first solution to this would be a Big Ol' Pile of Books that she could read, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Do you have a good library nearby? Can you put books on hold online? If you request ~ten books a week and she picks out an armload for herself, she could enjoy those through the week and tell you about them, and she'd probably learn a lot from that.
If you haven't already done so, could you teach the kids how to do age-appropriate chores (maybe one a week)? At 9 I learned to do laundry and could already vacuum; my 6-year-old LOVES being in charge of running the dishwasher; a 3-year-old might be ready to use a dustpan and brush to help someone else sweeping. Practical Skills Education will benefit the whole family now and also be useful when they're adults.

melissa
03-07-2014, 04:36 PM
Congrats Crunchy!!!

farrarwilliams
03-07-2014, 07:08 PM
Can you focus on making a super, super simple daily routine for each kid? And maybe put all their stuff to complete it in a box and put a checklist on it? Something like, a page of math, reading for X amount of time, writing a freewrite, and then X amount of "project" time. Just four things. They can pick what to read and what the project is. You can just be available for the math help, and then have a pile of writing prompts for them. Have you seen Scholastic's Story Starters? Or the Anti-Coloring Book has a cool newspaper one that has some writing. Or there are cool list making books for kids. I'm thinking things like that.

Congrats on the baby! You know there is that final, magical burst of energy that a lot of people get in pregnancy. But sometimes people turn it to weird purposes. I knew someone who scrubbed her washing machine right before she gave birth and someone else who suddenly HAD to go to Ikea and buy a ton of stuff right before the baby was born. But maybe your burst of project energy will be creating the perfect workbox system! ;)

murphs_mom
03-07-2014, 10:13 PM
I honestly have no idea how you're doing it, but yay for having the energy and ambition you do have.

I haven't been in your position (we have an 'only'), but a HSing friend had 2 children who were 4y and 6y when she learned that she was pregnant with #3. By the middle of the pregnancy, she was done. She had no energy for the house, the kids, the schooling, and her work (from home). She and her husband reached an agreement: She was given the okay to hire help. One day a week, they paid someone to come in and do the 'big' cleaning. Three days of the week, she bartered with a young woman who'd come over for a half day to do light housework (the dishes, the sweeping, help the boys pick up their rooms) and watch the boys. The young lady would also help the boys w/their HSing many days. While she was with the boys, my friend was free to work, nap, or both (at different times, obviously). Every once in a while, her mom or her MIL would help by taking the boys to their CC classes or other activities. Whatever it took to give her some napping time. :)

Hiring help isn't feasible for everyone, but it is possible to barter sometimes. Perhaps that would help a bit?

HoustonHomeschoolers
03-08-2014, 01:28 PM
Congrats on the upcoming babe. I am new...but maybe switching to mostly online work for the time being? If you have a lap top she can even do it while you nap in your room?

crunchynerd
03-08-2014, 09:55 PM
Thanks to you all, for the congratulations, and for the thoughtful and helpful suggestions. I've been mulling over the need to get the older two more self-reliant and ingrained in morning and bedtime routines. I had made major progress in that direction before I fell pregnant, and then it just all fell apart, and is still lying there scattered where it fell.


The suggestions on different approaches to the learning are also much appreciated, and I might just seek out a combination of online learning for DD, with plenty of free rein to do projects that require no help from me because I'm to the point of using paper plates and napkins to save work, and need some shortcuts in the education department too. Maybe DD can even lead DS in some phonics games we have, and learn by teaching.

Maybe my energy will improve enough soon, so that I don't have a constant state of C.H.A.O.S. even with DD and DS already putting away their own laundry and taking turns doing the dishwasher (credit to Flylady for the acronym for Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).

pdpele
03-08-2014, 10:25 PM
Hi Crunchynerd - congrats on the new baby. No energy is the set point for pregnancy - the worst!

I'm terrible at asking for help. And here I am suggesting you do it - from your kids, your dh, your fam, anyone else you can pull in off the street. Hired, if can/need be. Superwoman is a cartoon fantasy. Ok, it often takes some time/energy to set people (esp kids!) up to help you - but well worth it if you get a nap!

PS - is your dd Winnie Cooper as in wonder years? :) Still remember the nick at night marathon, "from boy to man in 5 nights" or something like that...

farrarwilliams
03-09-2014, 12:46 AM
Can your new reader do Reading Eggs? Or something like that for reading? That would be really independent.

sells_kate
03-09-2014, 07:25 AM
I don't think I've gotten my energy back after having kids! My daughter like reading eggs, but we do most learning stuff on the iPad instead of the computer. The reading eggs app was terrible on our iPad air. Just be forewarned if you plan to use it on the iPad.

But iPad apps are wonderful little resources for giving you some free time. My kids can sit and watch several videos of brain pop jr if I would let them. We also get the dr suess book apps which are definitely worth the money, very interactive and educational. Endless Reader is good for sight words. My kids both love the Dr Panda games as well, especially the restaurant one.

sells_kate
03-09-2014, 07:31 AM
Oh, I have an other suggestion. We do sproutkin. It's a box of 10 kids books with an activity card that comes in the mail. The books are a different theme each time. Take as long as you want to read them, the. Request them to send a new box online. Once your new box arrives you have 14 days to send back the previous box. If you choose to keep a book(s) you get it for 10percent off retail. It's 24.99 a month. The kids love getting the boxes, and we have been extremely pleased with all the books we get.

Some ppl question the price, but if you don't have time to head to the library, it makes sense. If I were to go to the library (30 mins from us) I would have to get 20 in gas and more than likely buy my kids a happy meal. So it's actually cheaper for me. Oh and the return shipping labelsa re included, you could just get your hubby to return them for you. That's what I do, haha!
If you refer someone you get a $5 credit to your acct too!

BakedAk
03-10-2014, 07:24 PM
If you set Winnie Cooper and Spaceman Spiff up on DIY.com, look up Anikin Snugglewalker and Side Kick. :) They haven't posted anything, but they'd be happy to have their friends from Clever Ice-Cream there, too. You might investigate Project Based Homeschooling. It's not complete unschooling.

Congratulations! Do you know what you're having? (Monkey? Opossum? Giraffe?)

justabout
03-17-2014, 03:17 AM
Every time I fell pregnant I was far tireder than the last. I so sympathise.

I would do what everyone else is suggesting - focus on one activity with you per day - whatever she needs most, reading, writing or maths - and do not worry about anything else for now.

crunchynerd
03-30-2014, 10:22 PM
Well, folks, I just got a taste of what happens when DH and I are absolutely not functional in the homeschooling department. We have all been sick for the better part of the week, and I was the sickest, though now, DH is catching up on me, with chills, fever, and fatigue.
My DD9, normally my right hand, limped along doing what few chores I asked of her the best she could, but has been ill too, and my 3 yo, bless his little heart, mostly shows his being sick, as becoming even more cuddly-wuddly than usual, and today, napped for about 3 hours beside me on the sofa, which gave me a chance to watch a lot of classic Star Trek (normally wouldn't watch those in front of him). But of course, guess who is never sick enough to keep him from being an indoor tornado? My 6 year old son!

No, there's no expending his energy... unless you ask him to lift a finger in the form of a chore, and then you'd think he had cholera. It's just not fair, him whizzing around all over the house, a steady stream of noisy mouth explosions narrating his imagination, jumping on the useful-but-loudly-creaky indoor tramp because he just has so much energy to burn...but not a bit of it, to do the work the rest of us are too weak to do. I told DH it's a real shame we can't hook him up to a generator; that way even if he wasn't deliberately helpful, he could lower our energy bill.

But in this week of sickness, DD9 could still, when she was up to it, do Khan Academy, lie in bed and read By the Banks of Plum Creek, cuddle and read to her littlest brother, and even cook hamburgers on the stove for lunch one day when I was lying on the couch really tired. She was proud of her hamburgers, and they were fine.

As for my DS6, I discovered that when left feral, he is still very keen to find out how to spell "Spiderman and his Amazing Friends" so he can punch it into the search field on the Roku, and his reading ability is being driven, right now, by being totally unassisted when it comes to finding what he wants to watch. Amazing what he can do when it's for something he wants. Similarly, I no longer accept the excuse that he can't put dishes away in high cabinets, because I know darned well that if there is candy in them, he has no problem whatsoever getting onto a chair and getting whatever it is, even if I taped it to the ceiling. There's nothing in this house he can't reach if he wants to, so there's also nothing in this house he can't put away. (evil grin)

So my feral Tarzan is learning to read and type, for now at least, as a result of a burning desire to find a show or a game website, that his sister and I recently had zero energy to get up and help him with, and if I have the ability later to play phonogram games with him, fine. But if I don't, he's starting to learn it anyway, out of pure cussed determination to get what he wants out of life! His soroban study has gone by the wayside, for now, but the kid was pretty darned good at getting it, at 5, and I don't think his math reasoning ability will suffer, if left to play the Cool Math Games and Hooda Math he likes so much, that aren't arithmetic drills, but are stuff like geometry, physics, strategy, spatial reasoning, and logic.

The One Focus Per Day idea seems like the very most doable of them all, and we actually have been sliding into that.

I think it's going to be alright, after all!

crunchynerd
03-30-2014, 10:27 PM
Can your new reader do Reading Eggs? Or something like that for reading? That would be really independent.

I didn't even know they existed til you mentioned it, so now I can go check that out. Thanks!

crunchynerd
03-30-2014, 10:38 PM
If you set Winnie Cooper and Spaceman Spiff up on DIY.com, look up Anikin Snugglewalker and Side Kick. :) They haven't posted anything, but they'd be happy to have their friends from Clever Ice-Cream there, too. You might investigate Project Based Homeschooling. It's not complete unschooling.

Congratulations! Do you know what you're having? (Monkey? Opossum? Giraffe?)

Sorry we've been out of touch, will try to remedy that, soon!
As for the baby, hehe, still just "a baby" but hopefully, human! No ultrasounds planned, though I'm waffling at this point in the idea of getting one even without medical need, just to find out gender... I'd really like to know this time. But, finding out when I look down and see, is also nice. And September isn't so far away now, and most everything that I'd buy specifically for a boy or a girl, can wait until after the birth, in terms of clothing.

Project Based Homeschooling is great, and I just need to find a project my DS6 is interested in, that does NOT involve electricity, sharp implements, power tools, or anything else that would require constant direct supervision for him to engage in.

Misha
03-31-2014, 12:03 AM
No suggestions, since I haven't been in this situation but many congratulations on your upcoming bundle of sweetness and joy!

farrarwilliams
03-31-2014, 08:02 AM
Project Based Homeschooling is great, and I just need to find a project my DS6 is interested in, that does NOT involve electricity, sharp implements, power tools, or anything else that would require constant direct supervision for him to engage in.

I suspect if left feral and the power tools stay locked up, that might happen pretty organically. ;)

Mum
03-31-2014, 09:01 AM
I had no idea you were preggers, Crunchynerd. Wish we lived close enough to organize meals until the nasty bug your fam is dealing with has passed.

crunchynerd
03-31-2014, 11:12 AM
I had no idea you were preggers, Crunchynerd. Wish we lived close enough to organize meals until the nasty bug your fam is dealing with has passed.
Thanks, Mum... but due to the food allergies, which have now increased to exclude all grains including rice, and the kids' food restrictions are so extensive now, that no one but us, can cope with them.

As for announcing on Facebook, I preferred not to, because I don't look forward to the inevitable gauche comments ranging from amazement of how many kids I have or am having, to questions of whether we're having any more, or whether this one was planned, etc. I think most people have the sense not to mention how nuts we are to be having another child considering the food allergies we are already dealing with, but the thought is always on my mind, like a black raincloud.

I fight that by counting blessings and remembering that there are parents who lost a child to cancer, or to a drunk driver, or parents who are dealing with cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, severe autism, and all manner of other things that happen that nobody wishes for, who might trade our problems, for theirs, and I should live bravely and with gratitude, because there's no cosmic rule preventing us from ALSO facing any or all of those other battles.

We all have problems, and nobody gets to pick theirs, so I try to remember that no one is promised a perfect, trouble-free life.

Sorry for the tangent. All I really meant was, thanks for thinking of us, and I wasn't deliberately keeping people who know me in real life, in the dark about my pregnancy, I just figured whoever would find out naturally, would find out, by running into me. Part of that was probably being chicken, not wanting to deal with the slew of judgements and opinions I knew a Facebook announcement would likely incur.

Sheesh, now I'm thinking maybe I ought to announce on Facebook anyway. Because how would I feel, if a friendly acquaintance neglected to mention something that important, and I found out much later that her FRIENDS knew, but not me? I'd feel like I had been sent a message, and not a good one. Maybe I should announce on the Facesuck, after all?

crunchynerd
03-31-2014, 11:16 AM
Hi Crunchynerd - congrats on the new baby. No energy is the set point for pregnancy - the worst!

I'm terrible at asking for help. And here I am suggesting you do it - from your kids, your dh, your fam, anyone else you can pull in off the street. Hired, if can/need be. Superwoman is a cartoon fantasy. Ok, it often takes some time/energy to set people (esp kids!) up to help you - but well worth it if you get a nap!

PS - is your dd Winnie Cooper as in wonder years? :) Still remember the nick at night marathon, "from boy to man in 5 nights" or something like that...

Yes, pdpele, the same reference, but it hits me funny, that it was a "nick at night" program. I watched The Wonder Years when it was broadcast primetime! I guess that shows my age! ;)

As for help, I have no problem asking for it, just a serious problem with tolerating it~! Nothing but paralyzed terror sprang into my heart when a nice neighbor lady came knocking about a week after a I had my last baby, offering to help with housework or anything else I might need. I was sitting in my nursing pjs, amidst the rubble that prevails for the first week or two postpartum, and the last thing I wanted at that point, was anyone around, that I would mind seeing me naked.

I even have to keep my own mother away for at least the first week or maybe two, because historically, either I have to explain to her why all her assumptions are not things I am doing (no daily soapy bath for a newborn, for instance) or else try not to get whipped into a state of panic, from her general anxieties that there must be something wrong with me, or wrong with the baby, or maybe my milk isn't enough because the baby is always hungry, etc etc. Sure, she went to work like a whirlwind doing laundry and cleaning while she was here, but I would rather have had it as messy as you please, but no one around to judge or ruffle my feathers, than have her making me all jumpy, while cleaning my house. I'd rather be comfortable in my own pigsty for that period of time! hehe

I'm very fortunate in that I have not only a WONDERFUL husband who can, and will, take over the cooking and housework when and as needed (even if he doesn't always do everything exactly as I would), but he also has probably one of the few jobs left in America, where he can take 2 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth of our child, but can also burn like an additional week of sick leave, so he can be there for like the first 3 weeks if necessary! At least the first 2 without a pay hit

BakedAk
03-31-2014, 11:23 AM
No, there's no expending his energy... unless you ask him to lift a finger in the form of a chore, and then you'd think he had cholera. It's just not fair, him whizzing around all over the house, a steady stream of noisy mouth explosions narrating his imagination, jumping on the useful-but-loudly-creaky indoor tramp because he just has so much energy to burn...but not a bit of it, to do the work the rest of us are too weak to do. I told DH it's a real shame we can't hook him up to a generator; that way even if he wasn't deliberately helpful, he could lower our energy bill.

This could totally be my Boy, and is definitely the only way we'll ever get him to be helpful. Except to get the newspaper in the morning, but that has the perk of getting to read the comics first.



As for my DS6, I discovered that when left feral, he is still very keen to find out how to spell "Spiderman and his Amazing Friends" so he can punch it into the search field on the Roku, and his reading ability is being driven, right now, by being totally unassisted when it comes to finding what he wants to watch. Amazing what he can do when it's for something he wants.

This is pretty much the concept behind PBH.

Don't worry about looking for my kids on DIY - they are hardly ever on there. They've sort of run their course with Clever Dragons and Always Icecream, too (of course, one month after I purchased a subscription. Saw that coming.)

Hope you're all feeling better!

darkelf
06-07-2014, 04:00 AM
Does she enjoy reading? My first solution to this would be a Big Ol' Pile of Books that she could read, a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Do you have a good library nearby? Can you put books on hold online? If you request ~ten books a week and she picks out an armload for herself, she could enjoy those through the week and tell you about them, and she'd probably learn a lot from that.
If you haven't already done so, could you teach the kids how to do age-appropriate chores (maybe one a week)? At 9 I learned to do laundry and could already vacuum; my 6-year-old LOVES being in charge of running the dishwasher; a 3-year-old might be ready to use a dustpan and brush to help someone else sweeping. Practical Skills Education will benefit the whole family now and also be useful when they're adults.

This would be my suggestion. I read an article from a HS mom once (this was way back) and he was having a tough time. She gave her oldest a pile of books and pretty much left him alone for months (slight exaggeration here) he had to be tested at the end of the year and his skills were way up.
Sometimes we think we have to do more than we really have to do.