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shanajo
10-24-2010, 05:32 PM
We are new to homeschooling as my daughters, aged 9 and 8, were in public school up through the 2009-2010 school year. I also have two sons aged 6 and 3. My 6 year old did preschool for part of the year last year, but we pulled him out once we decided to homeschool.

Overall I'd say that things are going well. As in, everyone in my family, including my husband, are happy to be homeschooling. My daughters wanted to homeschool, but had some concerns about it at first. Mostly they were sad to leave their social network at school (they do see their closets friends from school still) and as it is with anything new I think there was just a fear of the unknown. In the beginning of the year we talked a lot about their fears and worked through many/most of them. For example, my oldest daughter was afraid that if she got bad grades at home that it would result in a loss of privileged. I assured her that was not even possible, since we aren't going to be on a grading system, and that just so long as she made a good effort to keep up with her work that there would be no problems. All of the concerns that they had at first are gone now.

However, we are about 2 months into homeschooling and I have this nagging feeling that something isn't right with the education I'm providing them. And, I'm frustrated with the lack of motivation in my children. My 8 year old sighs and whines about being tired or wanting to go outside every time I tell her that it's time to do math or what have you. And whenever I try to have her do something new she tells me that it's too hard and she doesn't get how to do it. It's like she shuts down when presented with something new and immediately decides that she will not possible be able to understand it. She developed some pretty intense confidence issues while in public school, so I can see where the shutting down is coming from, and she did the same thing there. Except that most of her teachers were not proactive in trying to help her past that want to just shut down.

My 6 year old likes what we are doing academically (the three R's for the most part), but it takes forever for him to get anything done because he fidgets constantly and plays when he is supposed to be working. My 9 year old was doing wonderfully at first with staying motivated, and she has always loved to learn, but she is slacking lately and is wanting to spend all day just reading fun books, and constantly asks if she can be "done" with school for the day.

I had decided before we even started homeschooling to take a more relaxed approach to homeschooling. I am not one to make lists and do hardcore planning. I am more of a fly by the seat of my pants sort of girl. We do have a math curriculum that we do 4-5 days a week (Math Mammoth), a handwriting curriculum (HWWT), and a very basic grammar curriculum that we do to help teach them things like sentence structure and about punctuation. With my 6 year old we work 4-5 days a week on his reading skills too. Then the rest we are basically doing as an interest comes up, which leads to library books, videos, internet research, etc. At least, that's how I'd like it to be. The longer we are at this the more my kids are not wanting to dive into their interests.

We also play geography games sometimes, are working on a world map puzzle, and we do things like bake together multiple times each week. We go swimming at least once a week (they will all also be doing swimming lessons after x-mas) and my girls are taking piano and harp lessons respectively. The harp and piano lessons are great, but getting them to practice is not an easy task---the whole lack of motivation thing again! With all of this though we probably only spend 3 hours a day on structured learning right now. On the 3 days a month that we have co-op they also get that time, plus the older three are doing a class at the zoo once a month. There is a lack of motivation for me getting them to the coop too and focusing when we are there.

All of that said, I'm starting to worry that my children's lack of motivation is due to me letting them have too much free/play time. Plus, maybe my lack of planning for our days (i.e. not having lessons completely planned out before we begin our days except for the few things like math that are already planned for me) is also possibly affecting them, especially given that is what the girls in particular are used to more structure in their learning. I'm also worried that maybe the lack of rigorous, structured education is leading them to be bored, which is leading to the wavering motivation. I just don't know!

And then the other side of me says that play time is invaluable to their education and development, and that I should just be happy that they play so well together and are so creative in their play. The other side also says that since they are getting their math, reading, and writing done, so I should trust that the rest---social studies, science, etc. will come naturally as their interests flow into those subjects. I also wonder if the motivation will come as they get more used to how we do things in our homeschool. Maybe they simply need time to adjust to our structure--or lack thereof.

I also try to remind myself that we are not a public school and we don't have to do things like public schools do. Plus, the kids are not complaining about not doing more, they are fine with what we are doing. And they don't spend the day in front of the TV or computer, but instead do arts and crafts, and engage in creative play when we aren't doing the bit of structured learning that we have.

If none of this makes sense, I apologize! It's all confusing in my head and I'm having an incredibly difficult time sorting it all out. I just do not know how much I should expect of them I guess and if I should be worried about their current lack of motivation. And I'm worried about them falling behind. I want to make sure that if we ever have to re-enroll them in PS that they won't be behind. I don't even know if I should be worried about not being more rigorous in science, social studies, music, etc. Which leads to my thought that if we need a more rigorous approach in those subjects that we are still adjusting to this whole homeschool thing and it's okay if we aren't diving into all of the subjects right away.

It's all this big roller coaster of confusion for me! And now probably for anyone who has managed to read all of this!

I don't know what I even want in responses to this big mess of crazy thoughts, but I sort of feel better just venting and getting it all out in a place where people might understand. Thank you for reading if you made it all the way though! ;)

shanajo
10-24-2010, 05:33 PM
I didn't realize how long that got! Ack! Obviously I'm struggling a bit here. ;-)

hockeymom
10-24-2010, 06:10 PM
Shanajo: I don't think any of what you said sounds confusing! I think it sounds like...homeschooling. Seriously, you and your kids are just starting a huge transition and you are right to give it time. 3 hours a day of dedicated school time sounds really good, actually. Remember that you cover so much more at home than your kids are accustomed to in a public school room, plus the benefit of covering information one on one.

Most people advise plenty of time for kids (and parents) to "deschool" if they are used to brick and mortar school. Basically deschooling is taking the time to unlearn a lot of the pressures (time and otherwise) artificially put on students--your daughter's concern about losing privileges if her grades slip was a classic example. It also allows kids who are accustomed to having information fed to them to find their own interests and passions--the "relaxed learning" part of your vision that you mentioned.

Be kind to yourself and to your kids. Homeschooling is a process, often messy and sometimes very sweet. I think it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job already! :)

One book that is often recommended if you want to make sure your homeschool education is in line with public schools is "Home Learning Year by Year". It's an excellent overview and good for all the ages and grade levels you are working with. Your school district also probably lists their curriculum online, so you can roughly follow it if you think your kids might go back someday (or even just for your own peace of mind).

I hope this helps! And welcome to the group! :)

Miguels mommy
10-24-2010, 06:33 PM
I find it easier to take DOMA/DORA test once a year to ease my fears that he's atleast on level with our state. The general idea is 15-30 min per grade level. Miguel has independent work that should take him 10-20 min. I give him an hour before making each section a timed assignment. We only cover grammar and math this way. Spelling, science, social studies, and reading is done whenever he wants. He generally reads 2 books a week on his own. We have a no tv, and computer games during the week. I guess what I'm really saying is relax, it's easy to get stressed about what they know and what they don't but you are doing fine.

farrarwilliams
10-24-2010, 07:26 PM
I second what Hockeymom said about deschooling.

I also think you should think about what you and your kids want out of homeschooling. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish by homeschooling? You can also have your kids make their own goals. What do they want to learn and get out of this experience?

I think some people can plan ahead and be happy and others can, as you say, fly by the seat of their pants, and be happy. Both approaches have merits. For me, I like to plan ahead and have things ready to go so that we can roll out of bed and go right to homeschooling without thinking. I find that making routines helps me a lot. Sometimes it's nice to have a big plan for a project or something, but the things that are the most successful are when we just sit down and do them more or less the same every day - a math game, then a page in the workbook, for example. There's lots of ways to do it, but I find that I get MUCH less whining and grumbling (in fact, pretty much none) when the things we do are part of a routine. When we first were getting started in K with some more formal learning, I used to let them choose more when and how to "do school" but I found it led to more fights. Having it part of a set day helped it go more smoothly.

I can't imagine that getting plenty of free time can be the problem, by the way. I think that's just great :)

shanajo
10-24-2010, 07:55 PM
It also allows kids who are accustomed to having information fed to them to find their own interests and passions--the "relaxed learning" part of your vision that you mentioned.
This is a very good point and one that I tend to forget. I see this especially in my 8 year old who, when I ask the question of what she wants to learn about, her answer is almost always, "I don't know". She's clearly so used to being told what is important to learn that she truly is not in a place where she is able to develop her own interests. It makes me wish that we'd never done public school in the first place!

Be kind to yourself and to your kids. Homeschooling is a process, often messy and sometimes very sweet. I think it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job already!
Thank you, it is nice to hear that someone else thinks I'm doing well. Most of my friends and family give me the stink eye when I tell them that we only do 3ish hours a day of dedicated schooling. I need to learn to not be so open with them about this stuff, I think.

One book that is often recommended if you want to make sure your homeschool education is in line with public schools is "Home Learning Year by Year".
I actually have that book! I just keep forgetting about it. The story of my life! ;-p

I hope this helps! And welcome to the group! :)
It does help, thank you!

shanajo
10-24-2010, 08:01 PM
I'm hoping to avoid testing, but I may need to reconsider just to put my mind at ease that they are coming along in their learning.

You are right, I do need to relax! I am normally very laid back about most every parenting issue, but homeschooling is taking me for a ride, that's for sure. It's like when I decided to co-sleep I knew that it was the right thing for us, and there was no questioning it once I made the decision. With this I know that homeschooling is right for us and the longer we do it the more certain I am of this, but I find myself questioning what I am doing relentlessly. I need to let go and let things happen naturally.

shanajo
10-24-2010, 08:31 PM
I second what Hockeymom said about deschooling.

I also think you should think about what you and your kids want out of homeschooling. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish by homeschooling? You can also have your kids make their own goals. What do they want to learn and get out of this experience?

I do have goals, for sure. Although, I've never written them down and I really should do that. It would help my forgetful mind, for one. Secondly, it would be nice to be able to look at my goals when I'm feeling uncertain about things so I can help get myself back on track with a reminder about what I'm trying to accomplish. But I have not yet asked the kids what their goals are. That is a very good point and it would probably help them feel more involved and invested in their learning experience.

I find that making routines helps me a lot. Sometimes it's nice to have a big plan for a project or something, but the things that are the most successful are when we just sit down and do them more or less the same every day - a math game, then a page in the workbook, for example. There's lots of ways to do it, but I find that I get MUCH less whining and grumbling (in fact, pretty much none) when the things we do are part of a routine. When we first were getting started in K with some more formal learning, I used to let them choose more when and how to "do school" but I found it led to more fights. Having it part of a set day helped it go more smoothly.
I think you are right about routine causing less grumbling. For the subjects that we do everyday there is almost no grumbling about that work from my 9 and 6 year olds, and minor grumbling from my 8 year old, who is just a grumbler about most everything. But yeah, it's when I try to do less organized lessons that we don't have on a regular schedule that I get tons of grumbling. When we first started I had lesson plans and it went great for about 2 weeks. Then I found myself tired of the amount of time it was taking to plan things, plus we went through a curriculum change at 2 weeks. (We started with an online curriculum, but after only two weeks I realized that it was not for us, so I had to spend about a week trying to figure out what we were going to do next, which through everything off too.)

I've suspected for awhile that more routine would probably make us all happier. I need to get into a routine of making the lesson plans though, while also trying to make things relaxed. Mostly I do not want to end up having us all sit at the table for 3-4 hours a day. I want learning to be an adventure, and that is a huge thing that I haven't figured out how to do yet. One thing that I think will help me is that I've been struggling with what to do with history and geography, and I finally decided to order the Usborne Internet Linked World History book as our spine for those subjects. I ordered it over two weeks ago and it still has not shipped, so I am anxious to get going on it. I checked out a copy of it through inter library loan to use in the meantime, but that has not arrived either. I bet I'll feel somewhat better once it arrives and I have some guidance for history and geography. Now I need to figure out science and how to start incorporating things like civics, particularly for my 9 year old. I still need to explore how to keep learning from becoming dry and boring! I am so not creative when it comes to things like that.

I can't imagine that getting plenty of free time can be the problem, by the way. I think that's just great :)
I know that in my heart, it is getting my head on board with it! I have that mindset as someone who was public schooled myself that they should be doing 6-8 hours a day of school work, so it's hard for me to wrap my mind around that them playing and spending an afternoon doing art projects without me telling them what to do is beneficial to them. Sometimes they'll spend hours playing or whatever on their own and then I feel like I'm a crappy homeschool mom for not engaging with them more during that time, or for not organizing an activity for them. I need to let go on that though, I know I do.

Shana

shanajo
10-24-2010, 08:33 PM
Sorry, my formatting on my posts is all wonky. I tried to respond to points, but it make it look like my responses were part of the quote. I post on-line elsewhere, but the format is totally different so I'm getting used to the format here!

InstinctiveMom
10-25-2010, 12:14 PM
I'll second (and third) what's already been said - it's a process, and it's okay for it to take time to get into a groove. It sounds like you're doing well - most of the concerns you're raising are common ones, and in my opinion, are only concerns when you're getting it 'right', so to speak. :)
~h

farrarwilliams
10-25-2010, 04:22 PM
I know that in my heart, it is getting my head on board with it! I have that mindset as someone who was public schooled myself that they should be doing 6-8 hours a day of school work, so it's hard for me to wrap my mind around that them playing and spending an afternoon doing art projects without me telling them what to do is beneficial to them. Sometimes they'll spend hours playing or whatever on their own and then I feel like I'm a crappy homeschool mom for not engaging with them more during that time, or for not organizing an activity for them. I need to let go on that though, I know I do.



I think you know this already, but don't feel bad about that. Seriously! I think one of the things kids are missing these days is time to themselves to work out their own games and projects and their own relationships with siblings and friends. I certainly don't spend all my time with my kids and I wouldn't think it would be good for them if I did. I try to make the time I do spend with them quality time instead worry about the quantity. We're not unschoolers and the learning that we do for "school" is pretty directed, though they certainly influence our journey and have input. However, I think that free play and discovery is so essential. I know sometimes it seems like they're spending hours doing complete nonsense, but I always tell myself that unless they spend that time, they won't have room for creativity and discoveries of their own.

shanajo
10-28-2010, 05:32 PM
Well, I forced myself to sit down this past weekend and make lesson plans for the next two weeks. Least to say, things have gone much smoother this week! We got a ton more accomplished and overall I feel much better about things. It's been so much easier getting up in the morning and having our day already planned out. Of course, that should have been obvious to me, but apparently I needed to try things the hard way before getting that planning=less stress. :-)

I still sort of feel like my lessons were kind of dry, because we spent quite a bit of time just reading from books. However, the reading lead to some great discussions and questions from the kids. I looked up answer to many questions on-line, which led to more discussion. That is a good thing for sure!