View Full Version : Help me please...i can't figure out what i'm doing!

09-07-2010, 12:38 PM
i apologize for the jumbled mess you are about to read-if that's what it looks like in print-just imagine what it's like in my head!LOL!

ok. we are in the beginning of our third week and i just can't seem to figure it out. i have a "2nd grader", a 4 yr old, a 9mnth old, and i am babysitting a 3 yr old. robby-the "2nd grader"-is barely reading-not sure if that's just because he doesn't want to or because he really doesn't understand. i found out half way through the 1st wk that he is a visual spatial learner and i think that's why his 2 yrs in ps were such a nightmare. tried using a curriculum and figured out on day 1 that wasn't for us. i really like the idea of semi-unschooling but we need a tad bit more structure than that. we've been using the computer for reading and math and i just read ruth beechicks "the 3 Rs" on how to teach phonics but my brain just gets all jumbled up when i sit down and try to plan things. we use the pc and learning channels for science but is just watching things enough? he's good at math already but shouldn't he still be getting a lot of it? what about the good citizenship requirement we have in texas? i'm so worried that he's not going to get enough education but neither one of us really know how to learn. just writing this and trying to put thoughts together is giving me a headache! what is enough? all i care about at this point is to get him reading but shouldn't i be throwing in other stuff too? how do i know if he's learning everything that he should be? how do i know if i'm doing it right? how do i schedule it? what if he gets farther behind while i'm trying to get my s**t together? what if i never figure it out? i'm so overwhelmed and i'm freaking out!!:eek:
one more thing-what about the rest of the kids and cleaning and cooking and all that? how do you get it all done w/out collapsing from exhaustion?

09-07-2010, 01:06 PM
Oh my goodness---first step: breathe. Then, don't panic. I promise (and I'm new to this too and have my panic moments also, but I believe it fully) NONE of this will matter over the long run. Your son will learn to read, he will learn math, he will learn his Texas history. It really is okay if it doesn't get done today.

If you aren't interested in using a boxed curriculum (and you might want to hold off until you have a better feel for what your needs are as teacher and what your son's needs are), you might consider starting with a grade 2 workbook, or whatever level is applicable for where your son is today. Anything from Borders or B&N will do. I like BrainQuest, and Learn at Home is really comprehensive. The workbooks will do a couple of things: they will help you with a simple routine, they will cover the basics, and they are comprehensive so each concept is taught "in order". In an hour a day you can cover math and language arts, and even if that's all you do for now, you've done more than the public schools will have done. In time as you gain confidence you can branch out, but I'd recommend keeping it simple to start.

I think science shows are a great way to kick off unit studies. Watching a stimulating show can lead to a library trip for research books which can lead to a whole 2 week or month long study, be it dinosaurs, the asteroid belt, or highway architecture. Remember this: in grade 2, science, history and geography aren't taught at all (at least not that I'm aware of, certainly not where I live) so anything you learn is a bonus. It's a lot of what makes homeschooling fun and extra awesome, the ability to chase rabbit trails and study what is interesting *today*.

I hope this helps. I totally know where you are coming from and I know you will get lots of amazing help from the wise and experienced people here.

I wish you all the best! (and a glass of wine tonight!)

09-07-2010, 01:11 PM
Ok, sounds like me about 1/2 a year ago. You have your hands full. For advice, you can go look at our homeschooling web page (in the siggy) to see how we do it - it's detailed and listed out in structure, curriculum, etc. (go to admin, schedule etc.) and our blog shows what we've done. Then, relax. I think we all have had that feeling that we couldn't keep up and all. I used to run an in home child care when we started homeschooling last year and I had to give it up as it was too much. Then, make a list of priorities. What are your goals this year? What are your state's requirements? How does your child/children best learn? You may not know all this yet but you can take it one step at a time. I felt the same and believe me, your kids won't fall horribly behind while you get your stuff together. It's amazing how fast they catch up. Ash does one to two worksheets of math a day, and one to two of phonics. We do writing practice and reading practice (she learned to read in 6 weeks with Hooked on Phonics learn to read, and shes now in 2nd grade). We then do other subjects as needed or desired because at this age, it's the basics that are important if you are going for general education. You can change as you go - that's normal.

Good luck and let us know how you are doing!

09-07-2010, 02:05 PM
I can't give any real advice as I am also just 3 weeks in and having my own issues. I just wanted to say 1.) RELAX, it will all get done in due time. And 2.) Your boy will learn to read. It won't be tomorrow, it may not be 3 months from now, but it will happen because you're a mom who cares and will be sure he gets that knowledge. Keep in mind that many kids just aren't ready to read at his age. Their brains aren't wired for it yet. It will come. I've read that sometimes it takes until 3rd grade until the ability is there. And boys are often just further behind than girls. There's a reason Montessori and Waldorf, among others, don't push reading on one's own so hard until later. Certainly reading is important in those methods but it's not fully expected to be independent until later. And even Europeans have figured that out. They often don't push independent literacy until the 3rd grade year. At least in the countries I've been in (Spain and Germany).

And who says we don't all collapse from exhaustion at the end of the day? ;) Seriously, the toilets will get cleaned and the floors vacuumed eventually. You just have to be okay with a bit of clutter for a little while. Oh, and don't try to do it all in a day. There is no need to run a "full" day of school like the public schools do. If you manage a total or 3 hours a day (after all the breaks, lunch, snacks, play, etc) you are well ahead of the public schools.

09-07-2010, 02:43 PM
IF your son is a visual learner than watching videos, etc. is perfect. That's exactly how he is likely to learn best. My son is a Visual Spatial learner. He learns so much, so easily and quickly from watching television and playing on the computer or leapster. Depending on where your son is at (and if he'll still watch cartoons), the Leap frog videos are great for helping with reading - the Letter Factory if he needs to learn letter sounds, the Talking Words Factory or Code Word Caper for blending into words. There's also a few Math-themed videos. We watch Magic School Bus, Discovery Channel and Nature videos for science; Little Einsteins (my guys are young, may be too babyish for your son) for art and music and Between the Lions for reading. This is all in addition to the other curriculum stuff we do but I often feel like he's getting the most out of the stuff he watches.

09-07-2010, 02:56 PM
thanks for all the advice! as i've been looking around the site i'm figuring out that my issue is BALANCE. i'm not sure how to find it. i've never been incredibly skilled at finding balance in anything-ever. lol.i'm just so afraid of failing my babies!

09-07-2010, 03:33 PM
My DS was 1/2 through 1st grade when we started to homeschool. He couldn't read, and didn't want to. At the time I didn't realize he was a visual-spatial learner. But he really liked Starfall so I let him at it as much as he wanted. There are a lot of free sites similar out there that we played with too. I read to him a lot also. I would come to a word that fit the phonics we were working on that week, and have him sound it out. It really didn't take long until he was reading whole sentences. He still hates to read but does read much better. I've adjusted my teaching style to fit his VSL needs. We watch a lot of video's for History and Science. If I can find something on Math we do that too. Also we've started reading adventure books to feed his all boy soul (my DD is a bit of a tomboy so we're all good there).
Lack of Balance is something I understand as well. I tend to over plan. Then when the whining starts I get frustrated and chuck it all. So I've become more flexible as the years have gone by. I have a general idea of what we're going to learn this week. If we don't get to it, no problem it just gets shifted to the next week.
In the end though you can always remind yourself that your child is getting more time and attention in just 1 or 2 hours then he ever got in 6+ hours at school. It really is impossible for you to fail him.

09-07-2010, 04:02 PM
whew! hearing what all of you have to say is a relief. i think i just need to take a step back. when i try to think of goals i want to accomplish this year the only one that, in my gut, feels really important is the reading. i must admit that i am more worried about my ability to teach it than his ability to learn it so i am going to focus on that. i am going to keep him on the smart tutor website for math and reading while i familiarize myself w/teaching phonics. when i am somewhat confident that i know what i'm doing we will delve deeper into the reading and he can continue w/the smart tutor math. as far as the rest of the subjects he watches history and science shows for fun so he is getting that already and when he is especially interested in something we can find out more on the topic. still not sure about good citizenship but i think the history will cover that. surely by next year i will feel more confident overall and we can do a little more. what i have been doing is over complicating and forgetting that i can't possibly do worse than the ps system. my mom said i need to make myself a great big sign for my wall that says KISS in great big red letters-
Sugar!!! (we prefer not to use the word Stupid so we'll stick w/Sugar!! LOL)

09-07-2010, 04:12 PM

Mom of a visual-spatial learner here, and one thing I want to tell you is that they definitely tend to learn in "chunks." What I mean by that is that they will be going along not reading, and not reading, and not reading, and then suddenly...THEY ARE READING. Same with addition, same with history, same with science. That sad fact with these kiddos is that you really have very little to do with their learning. ;) It's kind of humbling actually!! They basically just will learn when they are ready. I would just make sure to do SOME structured learning each day, (you might want to check out Time4Learning (http://www.time4learning.com/visual-learners.shtml) if your son likes learning on the computer), and then kind of let nature take its course with the rest. These VSLs are so smart, but you simply cannot rush them...they've gotta do it in their own time and in their own way.

I'm sure you have already done lots of research, but I can highly recommend the book "Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World" and also the blog "Throwing Marshmallows (http://www.throwingmarshmallows.com/why-talk-rb-learning/)" for more info.

Theresa Holland Ryder
09-07-2010, 05:08 PM
I had a homeschooling friend who sincerely believed that her kid would probably get a better education watching PBS, Discovery Channel, History Channel, and A&E than he would at our local public school. That wasn't all she did, but it was a valid point! Our local schools were really, really bad. :(

I had the Kid Who Wouldn't Read. She'll be 13 next month and she reads just fine now. She even likes it. My dad taught me to read when I was three, with nothing more than some of those Golden Classic board books. I taught my son to read with some Bob Books and some phonics tiles. For my daughter, a dear friend who taught 2nd grade for 40 years spent the better part of a year sneakily tricking her into learning to read against her will. She didn't use any super swanky curriculum either; mostly some stuff from McGraw Hill that she scavenged from her former classroom before she retired and some Biscuit the Dog books. If you really get in trouble like I did with daughter, it is possible to find outside help. But probably you'll be fine.

And like others have said here, we quote the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Don't Panic. :)

09-07-2010, 05:39 PM
Our house is full of visual spatial learners. One of them is also dyslexic. What works for her, is not what works for the others. Or, I should say she needs it presented in smaller doses and explained thoroughly, while the other two just get it.
www.brainpop.com is a wonderful resource. My son was constantly telling me things that he learned from those little three minute videos.
We do unit studies that are very hands on and literature based. A perfect fit for our family.

I would say at 2nd grade (and with the little ones that you have), I wouldn't worry too much about ANY of it. Read to them, do a few math things and CHILL! :D

(ETA: My daughter with dyslexia needed intervention. She was frustrated and WANTED to read like you would not believe. Two years of intervention at Scottish Rite hospital made an amazing difference in her behavior and her abilities. So, I don't want to discount the fact that there might be an issue that needs further looking at...we have been there, done that.)

09-07-2010, 09:53 PM
I would say at 2nd grade (and with the little ones that you have), I wouldn't worry too much about ANY of it. Read to them, do a few math things and CHILL! :D

I completely second that. Read read read to them, do some fun activities around the books, some math and maybe some science experiments, especially in these early days. And above all else, BE KIND TO YOURSELF!!!

09-08-2010, 08:39 AM
I like Starfall too. If your son likes workbooks you can use Explode the Code. I use them with my daughter and they are very repetative. She learned all her phonics with the ETC books. My daughter loves workbooks though, where my sons would cry at the thought of it.

09-08-2010, 10:42 AM
robby really doesn't like workbooks. he likes smarttutor.com though so if i keep giving him that and add in the techniques that ruth beechick talks about in the 3 r's i'm hoping he'll learn. he loves' brainpop as well so we'll stick w/that too.

09-19-2010, 12:00 PM
You've gotten some great advice and I'll second all of it especially the don't worry - it takes a year to really learn a new job which is what you're doing.

At 7 I wouldn't worry about reading unless you really have the sense that it's a lot harder for him than it is for other kids his age. Get his eyes checked - the close focus muscles we need to read may not be fully developed yet (this was the case for one of my kids).

We listen to lots of audiobooks. This gave the late reader a chance to keep up with things like the latest Harry Potter even as he built his reading skills.

You will get through this.