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dbmamaz
06-08-2010, 10:35 PM
Ok, i dont really feel like I should complain . . .but i totally feel like I didnt do a good enough job!

The 6 yo, i went pretty unschooly, which is NOT what I want .. . and mostly only because the only way to get him to do any work is to threaten to take away all video game time. I mean, i have to repeat the threat every 15 minutes, sometimes. and that feels like bullshit! I can read to him while he plays, and I can read anything - science, literature, maybe even history, math readers, anything. But do his handwriting, do his math, do T4L . . . i have to put a LOT of effort in to it, and sometimes I cant muster the energy. We're workign through the end-of-year test, and it makes me feel like I didnt work on his reading enough! The first 4 questions were easy, and then he started stumbling. And i feel like its my fault cuz i didnt MAKE him read more. His reading is much improved over last year, but . . . urgg.

The 14 yo . . . we did a decent amount of science, and we did some math, and made a little progress on his writing, and he read a lot . . . but i feel like he learned MORE at public school . . . he memorized facts for tests. I mean, he did a LOT more than his brother, but I still worry I didnt do enough . . .

this was my first year home schooling. My 14 yo is bipolar/autistic/tourettes and my 6 yo is the most stubborn child i've known. But life itself gets in the way too. I have to cook everything from scratch because we have a lot of food allergies.

but I still think the biggest stressor was my 17 yo daughter. She wasnt planning on living with me this year, but at the last minute, it fell through w my mom. She was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, tried one med which gave her a crazy manic panic attack, was given another med which made her so tired she kept missing classes, tried another med that gave the same manic panic, then tried another med that made her physically ill, and then she got diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Then my sister broke the news to her that my daughter could not move in with my sister, and I was afraid she'd get suicidal again. She had to take a medical withdrawal from teh community college classes she was taking and hasnt been able to drive for about 2 months now.

The good news is, things are looking up. She has been feeling better physically and emotionally for 2 weeks - i'd say the best I've seen her for that long in a year or probably more. We also got the email confirming she has completed the requirements for her high school diploma. She doesnt have any firm plans yet, but at least her plan isnt 'get away from here immediatly" any more. I hate to get my hopes up, but omg it would be so nice if she stayed out of crisis for a while.

So, this was a really hard year . . . it should be easier next year, right? hopefully? I dont want to quit on my boys, they need me.

Wilma
06-08-2010, 10:51 PM
{{Cara}}, the first year is the hardest.

You you need to cut yourself some slack. You have a lot of special issues going on in your house. First, I wouldn't worry too much about your youngest. He has plenty of time to catch up. The attention span of a 6 yo is very, very short. I know, I used to teach classes full of them. You may, however, want to stop threatening and just take the video game away. As for the 2 older ones, you probably got more across than you think. But you also need to realize there is some deschooling going on, and with your issues it may be longer than expected. I would focus less on academics and more on working on the behavior/special issues you have going one. Work on establishing a routine in housework, reading together, outside activities before you hit the books. My dh once told me to keep a log of everything I did and I would probably be surprised at all we accomplished. But the key is to not look at it through "school" eyes, because even the most academic of us will fail if we do this. Homeschooling looks differently for everyone.

I wish I could say it will get easier. In some respects it will because the newness of this will wear off and you will have a better idea of what to expect.

I know this isn't much help, but we are all here for you.

Shoe
06-09-2010, 09:12 AM
I don't have any advice for you, as this is my first year homeschooling and I don't feel I accomplished everything I wanted (or planned) to get done either, though it was reassuring to me that my son did well on his portfolio evaluation and standardized tests.

But I just wanted to add a voice of support and a virtual hug or two. It sounds like you've got a lot of challenges, but I'm sure you're doing a better job than it feels. It seems to me that there is always a period of adjustment when you start something new-for both you and the kids, and kids are very resilient. I'm hoping the first year is the hardest, so "it should be easier next year"...but I'm speaking from hope, not experience.

Hang in there.

Snoopy
06-09-2010, 09:18 AM
OMZ, Ann is so right. This is an excellent post and a great reminder to all of us too. I feel that we had a good year and yet it's hard for me not to compare what we did with what the rest of you are doing and feel inadequate, sometimes, or even compare what we did to what my plan was for 2nd grade (all the stuff that DIDN'T happen: music lessons, art classes, science classes at the Science Museum, actually do SOTW projects and science experiments...). I dread writing the "2nd Grade, the Reality" post for my blog because I feel that I dropped the ball on many things. Yet, if I look at what Noah has learned and accomplished this year with a dispassionate eye, he has accomplished all the goals that I had for him and met all the 2nd and even 3rd grade standards. So my kid isn't a genius, but he's not being damaged by his somewhat overbearing and at times lazy mother either :)

Cara, I agree with taking the video games away. Pack up the console (or the games if they're PC games) or install a program blocking the gaming sites and tell him he can play on the weekends IF he does his work to your satisfaction. Yes there will be anger at the beginning but he'll get used to it and you won't have to deal with that anymore. I used to let Noah watch TV in the mornings but then I noticed that he never wanted to get started with school work and would have been happy watching TV all day so now the rule is no TV until after all the school work has been completed and then I still limit how much he watches. Video games are earned with reading at my house. Each child has to read at least 1 hour a day (for Noah that's 2-4 chapters depending on the length of the chapters. When he was 6 it was 1 or 2 small chapters). They can redeem that hour for 1 hour of videogames or computer time. Beyond that, it's 1 min of reading for 1 min of videogame or computer time and the time expires at midnight that day, there are no rollover minutes. I make exceptions to give them a special reward or if friends come over (which is very rare). They actually kind of lost interest in gaming after a while. A lot of times Noah doesn't even redeem his time.

Can your daughter help you cook? It might be a good thing to bond over and also help her gain some skills she will need when she's on her own? Also your older son should be able to handle some simple meal preparation.

I realize that you have challenges with their issues so it's easy for me to dispense advice, but maybe some of this can help. ((HUGS))

StartingOver
06-09-2010, 10:20 AM
Hugs !! No one can promise it will be better, but I can tell you from experience that few of my homeschooling years were as tough as the first. We took of days, weekes and even a whole year when my mother was ill. It all worked out in the end. Life has many valuable lessons too. Deep breaths ! Hang in there.

I had one year with my daughter that I took her completely back to basics. The law requires that we house, feed and cloth them. Well she got just exactly that, clothes, food and a roof. All personal things were stored, and she had to earn them back. Today she thanks me for it, at the time she wasn't so happy. She says it was a good lesson in what is really needed in life and what are wants.

dbmamaz
06-09-2010, 10:21 AM
Thanks Nathalie - well, actually, thanks Shoe - that HOPE is what I'm looking for lol But Natalie, I think I've mentioned before, that the video games are pretty integral to us as a family - my husband has not been open to limiting games at all, except during school hours. My daughter has been too sick to even make herself lunch for much of this year, and she hates my gluten-free cooking, and has barely been talking to me. However, she has hung out a LITTLE bit more the last month or so and has been a little bit helpful. She is sufferring from a mood disorder and an autoimmune disorder, so getting her to do anything at all is often just not on the table.

I guess its just a matter of continually aiming for balance, even if I never get there . . . at least, that seems to be my best path.

jessicalb
06-09-2010, 10:31 AM
Cara, it sounds to me like you are doing a GREAT JOB! What everyone else has said is true - your kids needed time to deschool, it was your first year, and you have a lot going on.

Keep in mind that your littlest is 6 years old. That is almost a baby. Many boys aren't even developmentally capable of reading at all at 6. He is doing AWESOME. :)

As for your older son, I would suggest that the facts memorized for tests fell right back out of his head a lot of the time, and that the experience of being home with family in a rich environment is infinitely better than the rote stuff he got at school.

Lastly, that first year that Alex was home? Well, it was a good thing that we don't have to prove we did anything in this state, because we didn't. We learned to like each other again, and read some library books. I took him to the science center a lot. That was it. But it was what our family needed to be ready to jump into more academic stuff later. :)

*hughughughug* Be kind to yourself! You have extra challenges and you work hard for your kids! *hughughughug*

jessicalb
06-09-2010, 10:32 AM
Ohh Cara I just saw what you said about not limiting games. Could you cover the games, maybe? Like put a blanket or towel over the console and games so they aren't right out in the open, singing a siren song? That helped us when we had a TV issue a few years ago.

Good luck!!!

hjdong
06-09-2010, 10:42 AM
I would encourage you to evaluate more frequently next year. This year, I didn't do regular evaluations, and now, I'm feeling a little like, "What did we accomplish?" In previous years, I've evaluated ever 6 weeks or so. It gave me perspective on where improvement was and what needed more work.

If nothing else, next year will be easier because you know what to expect.

dbmamaz
06-09-2010, 10:42 AM
My 14 yo is totally game-obsessed in the way only aspies can be . . . half of the papers he writes are about game characters, he only wants freinds who play the same games he plays, etc. and honestly, the games do encourage reading, writing, and logic for my 6 yo. and . . . i'm on the computer most of the day too. It woudl require a much bigger family lifestyle switch than i am ready to tackle atm. My husband probably spends 8-10 hrs/day gaming on the weekends, and 4-5 on weekdays. and before he knew me, he was a rated chess player in canada - he takes gaming really, really seriously.

jessicalb
06-09-2010, 10:45 AM
We do a lot of gaming here, too. I'm glad to know mine isn't the only kid whose perspective pretty much revolves around video games! :)

Topsy
06-09-2010, 10:52 AM
(((Hugs))) to you, Cara. I can "hear" the desperation in your post, and I know you are second-guessing everything. We have lots of "issues" around our house as well...Anxiety, Tourette Syndrome, OCD, depression...and from time to time it can feel like that instead of homeschooling, we are issue-schooling. But that's actually not such a bad thing. When we are dealing with our difficulties big-time, we have learned to stop what we are doing and have "support sessions" where the person with the biggest and baddest "issue" gets to vent about it and we just sit there and support that person. Inevitably, the next person feels that THEIR issue is also big and bad, so we go through the drill for that person too! This has sometimes taken the better part of a day!! And obviously, no schooling is getting done during that time. BUT, the kids are learning to express their emotions, the rest of us are learning to be empathetic, and we are ALL learning how to function as a family unit. In my opinion, there aren't much better life skills than those!!

I wish I had some advice for you about the video games, because I understand the part about them being an integral part of your family. We have always had a "no video game during school time" policy, and that has served us well. Even when we started unschooling, we created a specific time of day dedicated to learning. I never defined what learning looked like, but I defined it as NOT looking like five hours of video games. So they could read, watch educational videos, do Time4Learning, play, explore outside, attend classes, etc....anything they were "learning" from. Giving them the freedom to CHOOSE how and what they learn seemed to negate the arguments over video games. It has been working pretty well so far!!

Hang in there...every year is different, and every year provides different challenges and triumphs. You WILL survive this roller-coaster!!!

Topsy

hockeymom
06-09-2010, 11:22 AM
I wish I had some advice or practical experience to offer up, but we're only in our first couple months of homeschooling and haven't had to confront too much yet. I do think you have received excellent advice here, though.

I know it's hard, but try not to stress yourself out too much--your family needs you to nurture them right now, and that is way more important than "reading enough" or reaching whatever academic milestones you thought they "should have" reached. Already I'm learning (thanks in part to the good people on this board) that ultimately there usually are too many expectations that we put on ourselves when we start down this path, and like in life, it all works better when we learn to let go. Be present for your kids and let go of the rest when you can. GF cooking has come a long way and there are excellent resources out there now. I thought it was an excellent idea to try to include your daughter in the kitchen, when she is able. I know many people who would argue that life happens in the kitchen, that it truly is the heart of the home and a most natural place to bond. Even if she isn't participating, is there a cozy corner she can sit in while you work? She will watch you there, even if she pretends she isn't.

Above all, be kind to yourself. We can't fully give ourselves to our families if we don't take care of ourselves, and that is most true of the primary homemaker and teacher. A little chocolate, a glass of wine, or a half hour of yoga or knitting can work wonders.

*hugs*

BPier12
06-09-2010, 01:11 PM
Cara,

When our son was little and started using the computer to play educational games, he would get completely irate with us when we told him it was time to stop. After a lot of arguing and pleading and taking away treats,etc., which just made all of us upset and angry with each other, we finally decided to use a timer. We would set the timer for 1/2 an hour when he started playing and when the timer went off, it was time to stop playing. Initially, he would still argue with us, but we were calmly insistent that this was the way things were going to be, and gradually he used the timer without arguing and eventually took responsibility for setting it himself. Consistency was the key here. As he got older, the amount of time he was allowed to play increased and after a while we did not even need to use the timer anymore because he knew that we were serious about the time limit. I will be honest here and say that we have let this slide somewhat over the past couple of years and I'm getting concerned again that his time on the computer is getting out of control so I need to revisit the limits we will have especially now that he will be home instead of at school.

Be good to yourself. ((hugs))

dbmamaz
06-09-2010, 01:24 PM
I really appreciate the responses. I'm even more stressed after doing another day of testing. grrr.

and i am still wondering why, when I say that my HUSBAND plays 4-6 hours of games on weekdays, do people keep suggesting i forbid my son from playing? Do you really think my husband would agree to that? Trust me, he wouldnt. Besides, my 6 yo is the LEAST game-obsessed member of the family.

BPier12
06-09-2010, 02:26 PM
I really appreciate the responses. I'm even more stressed after doing another day of testing. grrr.

and i am still wondering why, when I say that my HUSBAND plays 4-6 hours of games on weekdays, do people keep suggesting i forbid my son from playing? Do you really think my husband would agree to that? Trust me, he wouldnt. Besides, my 6 yo is the LEAST game-obsessed member of the family.

Cara,

I wasn't suggesting that you forbid your son to play. You said in previous posts in this thread that your husband won't agree to limits except during school time. In your first post you said that your 6 year old is gaming while you are trying to read to him. I thought that the use of a timer might help you by giving him time to game and then once that time is done, his focus has to be elsewhere. Maybe a 1/2 hour of gaming then a half hour of reading. Or ten minutes, or whatever works for you. Sorry if I offended you somehow.

dbmamaz
06-09-2010, 04:23 PM
I'm sorry, beth, we had a miscommunication. I think I said he's 'playing' while I read to him . . . but thats with legos and toys. I dont read to him while he's on electronics. All electronics other than Time4Learning and discovery streaming are off during school hours. I'm just pretty fried. We're taking 2 weeks off starting at the end of this week, and I plan to clean the house (i feel less frazzled when my floors arent covered in food and garbage and my bathrooms are mostly just the colors they are supposed to be) and chill and plan for summer curriculum. Wait, can I fit a month off and still ahve time for summer curriculum? no? sigh.

reversemigration
06-09-2010, 09:00 PM
Cara, I wish I had some excellent advice for you...I think everyone else has touched most bases before me. All I'd say is take time to take care of yourself, as much as is possible given your hectic schedule and multiple demands. I know that I have a hard time accomplishing anything with my kids when I'm at wit's end - that's when I tag team with DW and tell her that I'm in the Cone of Silence until further notice. :)

Clean house, chill, do the things that make you happy and that recharge your batteries. Sometimes being able to regain that happy attitude again is enough to defuse the battles that have become ingrained between you and the kids.

As Frank Costanza would yell, "Serenity now!"

dbmamaz
06-11-2010, 03:43 PM
Thanks ben. That reminds me, for some reason, I need to buy another bottle of vodka. The one hubby bought me for v-day is almost gone!