View Full Version : Homeschool identity crisis (long)

02-09-2012, 10:52 PM
We are approaching our one year anniversary of homeschooling my ds who's 9 and I feel like we're at a crossroads. Do I continue with the direction that we have been taking, or do I ease up and take a more unschooly approach. We have used MbtP 8-10 and Singapore math and while both have worked fine, my ds1 is soooooo slow (we're only half way thru MBtP). I have adjusted my original time expectations and cut out alot of the work but some days he is just a snail! School takes about 5 hrs a day and we get about half of the material covered that I would like.

I feel like the more I require of him to do the less he is actually learning. I have become focused on his handwriting (which is atrocious) and other details. He seems to understand concepts quite easily but really struggles with details and retention.

We recently got LoF fractions to supplement and he loves it, and has now realized how terribly boring Singapore is. I think Fred is great but I am concerned that its not enough on its own.

I pulled him out of school last year bc I felt he wasn't getting enough of a well rounded education and the school was solely focused on teaching to the test. He has a natural interest in science and I wanted him to be able to pursue his interests. But now our days are going so slow that we often never even get to science and our ss has taken a backseat. Although I would never put him back in school, I feel like I'm not sticking to my original purpose in homeschooling. I think I need to relax, but I feel such a pressure to make him a genius or something.

I know that some of our best learning moments have ocurred just naturally at the store or watching a documentary (during our non-school time neither of us like regular tv), or at the park, walking the dog or reading aloud to him before bed. We have had some really deep discussions just living life. I really want to relax and just kick the curriculum to the side right now but I don't know if I can give up the control.

I don't think I have a question here, I'm just looking for advice, maybe? permission to relax, maybe? I have no one I can discuss this with. My husband just thinks I should make him write better and give him more work. Sorry to be so long winded and without much direction!

02-09-2012, 11:10 PM
haha i'm there too! maybe its spring fever? or winter blahs still? This is my 3rd year, and I'm esp confused w my 8 yo!! I know i need to up my game w my 15 yo, but i feel so lost w my 8 yo!

02-10-2012, 10:11 AM
I think you should try it. You'll never know if it's a good idea if you don't give it a shot. Maybe start now or over the summer. Spend that time looking into different options, maybe more hands on, or science based curriculum, unit studies, etc. If you find unschooling isn't working, you can always add other things in, in the fall. That's the great thing about homeschooling, you are not locked into anything (usually).

I might find out what a 9 year old usually covers in math at 9/10 and try to implement as much as you can in your daily life or get a lower impact math curriculum. You could do it with the other subjects as well, but as you said, so much of that can be learned through reading and other means. Just having a general guideline might help you not feel like you are giving up all control.

02-10-2012, 10:21 AM
Ok, rereading this - was half asleep when I answered yesterday. I thought MBTP was mostly social studies? I'm curious how you spend 5 hours without getting to science - what is your son doing for 5 hours? i try to limit subjects to 30 minutes a day, max. Math (when i'm using a regular curriculum like singapore) we do every other problem or fewer. We arent doing much writing yet because its really hard for him still - i heard the author of Bravewriter say that making a child write every day is going to burn them out of writing. I havent ever looked at MBTP tho because my kids dont like unit studies.

but yeah, if you are spending 5 hours and not getting to your sons favorite subject . . . definitely change what you are doing.

02-10-2012, 10:38 AM
Hey there, Mitch. I also have a 9yo son who tends to be a bit (ahaha) distractable and slow and something of a dreamer. I'm not a child development expert, but I think so much of this can be put down to their cognitive, emotional and physical growth at this stage. Zack will concentrate and work hard as long as he finds the subject interesting...for him that's history and creative writing. Math is like pulling teeth. He'll be in the middle of long division and he will suddenly ask me a question completely unrelated to math. It's usually a very thought-provoking question and I'll find myself engaged in a discussion and then I have to say "Wait a minute, mister, get back to math." So I try to find ways to incorporate his interests in the less-engaging subjects. So he'll write a story about a homeschooler who is trapped in a dungeon and the only way out is solving math problems correctly (he had that one published!) or we'll dream up some historical word problems (right now his focus is the Plague of London) or he'll do copywork out of a book he finds fascinating.

So much learning takes place with our noses outside of our school books. It sounds like to me you've created a learning-friendly and stimulating environment and that your son is thriving and learning more than you probably realize. There's a lot going on in those minds when you think they're just staring out the window. Spend part of your day covering the basics and then the rest of the day letting him take the lead. So I guess what I'm trying to say is, and take it for what it's worth, you're doing fine and you have permission to relax. :)

02-10-2012, 10:47 AM
but yeah, if you are spending 5 hours and not getting to your sons favorite subject . . . definitely change what you are doing.

That is a good question. I didn't really think about it when I first read the question, but we are able to finish 3 lessons (Art, History, and LA) in about 2 hours. On Daddy's days (Science and Math), it can take a little longer depending on dd's attitude - loves science, hates math. 5 hours seems like a lot, even if you were finishing.

Another idea maybe change the order you are teaching. Do his favorite subject first and then go to the others. Or change the time of day, experiment and see what works. I found that dd will take hours on math if she doesn't do it bright and early in the morning. She does better with me if we do the lessons she wants to do first and the ones she's less enthusiastic about at the end.

02-10-2012, 11:41 AM
As a fellow MBtP user, I can totally relate to what you are saying. We were at this very same crossroad a couple of months ago. There is so much work involved in each lesson that we were spending 5-6 hours doing school and sometimes not finishing all of the material in the MBtP timeframe. The pace of the lessons moved too quickly for us and ended up feeling forced. There was no time for my kids to linger and explore ideas or pursue their own interests. I purchased 4 Concepts of the 10-12 level- a full year, so I felt pressured to finish it in one year as it was designed to be done. However, 2 Concepts would have been plenty.

I am at peace with MBtP now. :) I know we won't *finish it this year and there are some units we have no interest in doing at all, and that's ok. We are all happier now. For me, it's been a struggle to find the balance between the curriculum and child-led, interest-based learning. As I'm looking ahead to next year, I would love to continue with MBtP as a supplement- maybe 1 or 2 Concepts for the year. And I'll get input from my kids as to which ones interest them the most. I'll also encourage them to come up with their own activity projects and final projects rather than confining them to the projects in the curriculum. I really do like MBtP and want it to be part of our homeschooling.

As an aside, I keep hearing MBtP categorized as unit studies. To me that's an oversimplification. It's so much more than that. :) Unfortunately, it sounds like that label may prevent some people from even looking into it at all. :( I think it's a curriculum that doesn't fit neatly into one category. I havn't seen MBtP use the label "Unit Studies" on their website to describe their curriculum. Unlike Intellego, for example, which clearly labels themselves as "Unit Studies."

I think it's wonderful that you realized your son wasn't engaged and happy. It sounds like you are on the right track to remedying the situation. That's part of the journey of homeschooling- we are always adapting and fine-tuning to try and find what works. :)

Crabby Lioness
02-10-2012, 11:43 AM
I have this same problem with my 10yo. I recently let her do the lessons in her own order. We're still not getting everything done, but we are getting more done.

Dh the schoolteacher assures me it's an age-related phase.