View Full Version : New Homeschooler Panic-- please help!

05-26-2010, 09:56 AM
As a bit of background, we recently pulled our 7 year old son out of PS, mostly because he was bored and working at a level far ahead of his class. We had long suspected the day might come when we'd homeschool him, and I'm not even exactly sure why we started with public school to begin with. He's always been quite "academic", is curious about everything and motivated to learn. At age 4 he declared that by the time he's an adult he "wants to know everything" and it seems he's on that path. PS just wasn't the right place for him.

In the beginning it all seemed to go well. He would wake up early ready to go, and I had stuff to give him. Mostly I wanted to evaluate him to start with, to find out his challenge points so we could work from there. But recently I've fallen into the new homeschooler trap I keep reading about--obsessing over curriculum, worrying about whether I'm doing it "right", whether I'm doing "enough"...in all honesty, I'm trying too hard. I'm not sleeping well and I am no longer clear about why I'm doing this or what I'm supposed to even be doing at all!

I recently ordered a bunch of curriculum, some of which looks promising and some of which I'm disappointed in. I had done a ton of research and felt confident that all these books would make sense once I had them and that a daily plan would somehow become clear. Instead, I feel totally overwhelmed! :( I feel like it's all ridiculously *hard* and that I'm messing up big time, even though DS learns easily and naturally. Logically I know I can't kill his desire to learn in a few short weeks, but emotionally I'm really lacking in confidence.

I think if we hadn't started with ps and just continued on with our lives (which are always full of natural learning) I wouldn't have such messed up expectations right now. I'm not even sure what my expectations are (of him or of myself). I think I need to deschool myself!

What do the rest of you do when you feel like you don't know what you're doing?

05-26-2010, 10:36 AM
I think the deschooling idea is a great one. Did you just recently pull him out?
I would spend the summer just getting to know one another and maybe trying a few things with him. Don't try to do everything right now.
He is very young and you have a ton of time to figure things out.

05-26-2010, 10:43 AM
Take a deep breath and stop panicking! How does he like the assignments you have given him so far? Is he enjoying them? Does he feel that he has learned something? Maybe you could ask HIM for his evaluation of how things are going and suggestions as to what he'd like to do. If he is advanced, curious, and eager to learn, maybe you could give yourself a break and experiment with unschooling a bit?

For me, I needed to know what direction I was going to. At first I considered the state educational standards, but then I tossed that aside and made my own curriculum in Kindergarten. Lots of lapbooks, Five in a Row, etc. But I needed a clearer picture with goals or milestones to strive for. Since I have 5 other kids who are all older than Noah, I'm kind of using what they did in p.s. at his age to "guide" me but Noah is actually doing work at a higher level than that (even though his workbooks say they're for grade 2, a lot of what he's studying they didn't learn until 3rd grade or even middle school!) so I'm not really worried about his progress anymore. It was a huge relief for me to find The Well Trained Mind because it provided me with a blueprint for the future. I adapt a lot of it to our needs and inclinations, but I do follow the cycle as described in the book.

Have you read the book by Rebecca Rupp who is the author that Topsy just interviewed? "Home Learning Year by Year". If your son is advanced, you could have him work at a higher level than his actual grade level or adapt her suggestions. There is no rule that you have to do exactly what an author advises, that's the beauty of homeschooling.

I wish you good luck. I find that chocolate tends to help me in those stressful situations :) (endorphins, you know...)

05-26-2010, 10:51 AM
I run around flapping my arms and clucking like a chicken! No, seriously, I've had a few moments like that (more like a few months) when Mitchell (7yo too) and I just couldn't get into a groove anymore. He got really resistant and I didn't really know what to do. Very frustrating indeed. I started with a "plan" and that lasted about two weeks before going straight into the toilet! We relaxed quite a bit and just don't do a lot of school work right now. What I'm hoping is that eventually Mitchell will be more interested in learning and that will make it easier. It's something I've seen a little more lately so maybe there's hope. Although I still wonder what I'm doing sometimes, I've given up on thinking I need to do it all right now. Could you maybe put away a few things and concentrate on what you and your son do well together?

05-26-2010, 10:56 AM
I agree with Teri about deschooling him and YOU! I went in books a blazing with both my boys and my then 5th grader had a really hard time after a week. I was pushing too much on him too fast. Remember( i heard this from several teachers and witnessed it several times my self) " How much teacher and lesson time are they really getting in school?" Maybe 10-15 min a hour(if that) that they are there! Think about it they wait for the bell or teacher to tell them that lets start math, ok a few minutes for everyone to get their books out, a few more to get to the right page, etc etc.

Do the homeschooling slowing! After we struggled for 3 months I took 2 months off well mostly and we eased into our learning style.( and still are today) we started with classes from local museums, zoos etc. making my boys want to learn about whatever it was. I think we did Pirates (at the history museum) Dinosaurs (at natural science museum) made xmas cards and learned about xmas all over the world, took some classes at petsmart about their animals, joined game and park days thru homeschool group. ANYTHING that you think your son with like, ease into the learning part! Ok that is what I did anyways, and take a deep breathe. You are doing a wonderful thing for your son and your family, he is going to experience much more than he ever could have in school.

05-26-2010, 01:57 PM
I think it's very common for new homeschoolers to go a little overboard in the curriculum department (oh, if I could have all of that money back...). I would also recommend getting The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith from your library and read over it this summer (it's an easy read). It's full of suggestions for educational activities (as opposed to bookwork).

05-26-2010, 06:54 PM
Thanks Teri. That helps a lot. You are right--he IS young, but it's easy to forget that! Thanks for the perspective.

05-26-2010, 07:20 PM
Nathalie: The chocolate worked. :) Actually, thanks for all the support and the reminder to stop panicking. I have read TWTM and Home Learning Year by Year, both of which were fantastic. Unfortunately the two titles pretty much exhausted our library system's collection of homeschooling books (it's a tiny province and homeschooling is not popular!) and the bookstore isn't any better. I took your advice and asked Aiden what he wants for the summer: immediately he said Math (hard, please!), Geography (he can't get enough), Prehistoric studies, and Earth Science. So much for allowing summer to guide us through the next few months!

David: I think the running around like a chicken would have been very healing for me today! :) Thanks for the support and the reminder to relax. I need to consciously remember that learning comes naturally and that passions ebb and flow. I tend to panic when Aiden gets too into academics and doesn't take time out to just play, but then when he's in play mode for more than a few days I worry that he's lost his excitement. Of course that time is usually spent mentally processing or just switching gears. Yikes--I have seriously got to loosen up!

Michelle: My husband says the same thing about the amount of time actually learning in school, and after working in a school last year, I know it's true. I couldn't believe it when his teacher (in grade 1) spent--I timed her--over an hour explaining how to "read to self"! Then, before they could even read quietly it was time to something else and it wasn't until a couple hours later that they had the opportunity, at which time she had to explain it all over again! My son was SO annoyed! Still, I forget how true it is, so your words are a great reminder. I envy you your opportunities--we used to have so many when we lived in Ohio but now there is nothing local. I foresee a lot of hanging out at the beach and camping this year!

Firefly Mom: Isn't it awful when you're doing something (like ordering too much curriculum) that you know you're better off not doing?! Ugh! At least we'll use most of it sometime in the future, so for now I put a stack away in a bookcase to come out at another time. New mantra: Not too much at once, not too much at once, not too much at once...Our library doesn't carry the book you recommended but I'll look for it next time we're in the States. It sounds like just what I need.

05-26-2010, 08:19 PM
Hi again~
Do you know of any other homeschoolers? hopefully ones you like;) I found this link (http://www.h-i-o.org/orgs.php) that might help, if none are close think about maybe starting one! But if all else fails I like the beach idea for summer! not a camper unless you count the overnight at the aquarium we did? ok maybe not:rolleyes:

05-26-2010, 10:42 PM
I think you're doing well, and fortunate to have such an eager son. If he wants to study those subjects over the summer, you don't have to feel as if you need something set in stone. You can let him take the lead a bit in exploring his interests...give him some resources and let him get immersed.

And as far as being in the middle of nowhere, I understand how that is...before we moved, we were in the middle of corn and soybeans. On the other hand, you can turn it on its head and look at it as a strength. All sorts of country things to do, fabulous stargazing opportunities without all the light pollution, not to mention being able to go outside and appreciate just being outside!

05-27-2010, 04:41 AM
Thanks Michelle! Unfortunately we don't live in Ohio anymore, and there are no active homeschool groups in our area. I think there might be one close by, but I haven't had the opportunity to meet up with them yet.

Ben: You're right--if left to his own devices, he'd spend a good portion of the day working in his geography book and making up math equations to solve. I guess I shouldn't worry too much!

05-27-2010, 07:34 AM
My bf and I run a playgroup and one of our main focus is to make sure that new homeschoolers feel reassured because it can be an overwhelming experience. This is what we tell them:

The first year is the hardest and so is the second. One year you spend time trying to figure out what to use and the other year you try to figure out how to homeschool. One year is about methods/materials and the other year is about dynamics between you, your children, your family and the outside world.

If you can get past the first two years then you have arrived and can do it as long as you are willing.

Hang in there. The first few years, I went through a ton of curriculum and little by little over the years we have found things that worked for us.

05-27-2010, 09:36 AM
Thanks Christie! It really helps to know that most new homeschoolers experience similar emotions! :)

05-27-2010, 09:40 AM
Our library doesn't carry the book you recommended but I'll look for it next time we're in the States. It sounds like just what I need.

I've had very good luck finding a lot of used homeschooling books on Amazon. Is it possible to get things delivered to you so that you don't have to wait until your next trip?

05-27-2010, 10:46 AM
Good idea. I always forget about online shopping!

05-27-2010, 09:45 PM
I totally agree with the deschooling. Just have some fun and take some time to figure out where he is. So you can meet him there. The one year my now 18 year old son went to school, was a total waste for him. He learned nothing. After deschooling, I quickly found out he was just about where we left off. So it was pretty easy for us to just keep on keeping on.

Deep breathes !

( In 22 years I haven't managed to ruin one of mine yet. Although I am sure at times they thought I was !! We all do what we feel is best ! )

05-28-2010, 08:40 AM
Thanks Michelle! Unfortunately we don't live in Ohio anymore, and there are no active homeschool groups in our area. I think there might be one close by, but I haven't had the opportunity to meet up with them yet.

Sorry about that must have read something wrong;) I do that alot, hehe are you all in Canada? I found this (http://homeschooling.about.com/cs/supportgroups/a/hscanada.htm)if you are, and if not just disregard;)

05-28-2010, 06:25 PM
Yeah, we are *temporarily* in Canada (for the past 2 years almost). Thanks for the link. The province we live in is small and has about half the population of the city we moved here from, so it's been a big adjustment. Our community is tiny and there aren't many--if any--homeschoolers here, certainly not of a secular bent. But, since posting about my recent freak out and receiving so many awsome and wise answers, I feel a ton better. Honestly, as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and all of a sudden I can see clearly again. A huge thank you to everyone here, who has been through these beginning times before, and who listens, and who thinks kind thoughts and offers words of experience. Your kindness and willingness to share cannot be underestimated.

05-28-2010, 06:40 PM
Awww, I'm glad you found the support you needed here! Keep on posting :)