Tuesday, February 23, 2016

an update on actual homeschooling (sort of)

I have been meaning to write this update for over a month, but every night something or other comes up. Or nothing comes up: I'm just dead tired, spent, and in no shape to blog. So tonight I decided to push myself and write a long-overdue update.

This year 6 yo old (she turned six a month ago) and 2 yo went to preschool while the boys stayed home. Now, evaluating it, that was not such a good decision. I was hoping to buy more time to do schoolwork with older boys, a chance to set the schedule for the baby (who is almost 10 months), and letting 6 yo play with her peers and socialize. I was also hoping that 2 yo would color on some surfaces that are not my walls.

What I got was a very different scenario. The school is twenty minutes away without traffic. I spend an hour in the afternoon picking up the kids. I have to either wake the baby up and take her with me, or stall her nap and let her nap on the way there. Also, this afternoon carpool breaks up the day. I cannot plan any activities with the boys, or attend any events that would interfere with pick-up. Bye-bye, homeschool days at the History Center, or the zoo!

In the mornings we are doing taekwondo three days a week. I attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the boys go an additional time on Mondays. Then, on Mondays. I pick them up and drop off 9 yo at his violin lesson. While he is there, I have exactly 30 minutes with 11 yo and the baby to run errands. I often pick up groceries in Kroger or Target, but I have to be super-focused. I cannot dawdle, I cannot look around, and the list has to be bare necessities. When the weather was warmer, or when the younger two had off from school, I took them to the park, but it took too long to unload and load. A few times I brought 11 yo yo Barnes and Noble. If 9 yo was not so committed to the violin, I would have ended this madness a long time ago.

After the violin lesson, we go home, have lunch, I feed the baby and, before I know it, it is time for the afternoon pick-up.

On the days that I do taekwondo, I nap the baby at 8:30 am. She gets up ridiculously early, so she is actually sleepy at that time. Then I try to get chumash done with at least one of the boys by 9:15, when I have to change, grab the baby, nurse her, and drive to the babysitter on the way to taekwondo. I am enjoying the classes and the workout. (I am actually testing for my next stripe tomorrow!) But I am not enjoying the hassle that it is all producing. Also, going twice a week is not enough of a workout, or reinforcement for me. This cobwebby brain needs many repetitions until the information sinks in. I really should be going another time, one night a week, but it is so hard to find a night that my husband is home and I am not dead tired.

On Wednesdays, we are taking classes with the same coop that we have been a part of for the past five years. That is my bright spot, and it is such a relief! The boys love their classes, and now we stay and hang out for park day immediately afterward. I used to rush kids home, with somebody always needing a nap, and hoping to squeeze in some schoolwork. This year, since the classes are over by 12:30, and I have to leave at 2pm, I might as well let my kids hang out while I get a chance to have a conversation with other moms.

This is the first year that I am starting to be concerned about boys' socialization, It is looking more like "kids locked in the dungeon not interacting" scenario. It is not on purpose, but we seem unable to squeeze in any activities into the schedule. I wish there would be afternoon play dates that my kids could spontaneously arrange and attend on their own, but there are no kids on our block. There are two houses for sale, though. I am fantasizing about a family with kids moving in. I do not care whether they are frum or not. I do not care whether they homeschool or not. I just need them to have kids who would want to interact with mine.

On the school end of things, it is not so peachy either. 2 yo seems to be fine while in school, listening, participating, being sweet. His teachers are gushing about him. But his nap got completely messed up and he went from napping for at least two hours to just one, and then being woken up for me to pick him up. He is often cranky and moody when I get him, and he does not feel better when we get home, Moreover, his whole personality changed: he used to be sunshiney and very secure, but now he's demanding and clingy. He wants me, he wants to sit on me, he wants my attention. He wants to make up for all those hours that we are apart. I see from the photos that his school supplies in abundance that he is comfortable in the classroom. Yet, he still wants mommy, and home. Looking back, now I can say that sending him to school so young was a mistake. Kids at this age need the security of their parents, of their family, more than any educational activity that they would get even in an excellent preschool. From another side, he does not get all that experiential learning that I did with the other older kids: the zoo, the library, the museums, the grocery store. He really just goes to school and then home. I am quite sad about this, and I am definitely planning on keeping him home next year.

As far as my daughter is concerned, I also see changes. She just turned six. And she is still not reading. Now, I am not worried about a  newly-minted six-year-old not reading, I am worried about this particular child not reading. As long-time readers of my blog might recall, this child knew her letters very early on, and was very motivated to learn and try things. She was on the cusp of reading a year ago. Now she will come home with all these worksheets that she did in school. but she does not want to go over them. She is supposedly finishing BOB books in school, but I see her make mistakes in any reading that I ask her to do. She also decided that she is bad at reading, and she does not want to do it. I do not see her persevere. Most days, she comes home and asks almost immediately for her computer time. I don't always give it to her right away, but often it is late in the afternoon. I am tired. I still have to make dinner. 2 yo wants my attention. 6 yo has not watched anything the whole day, so why not? Yet this is the girl who wanted to do projects all the time. What is happening to my child? Is she burning out at the ripe old age of 6?

I would love to bring her home next year, too. But I know what craziness it is to juggle all the naps and schedules, to deal with all the workload, and feed everyone. It can only happen if I get some sort of help...

I'll get to the boys' achievements next time, I guess.

1 comment:

  1. I'm also in the middle of a year where I might have made different decisions had I been able to make decisions with hindsight.

    I can remember times in my life where for 3 years I couldn't make dinner and was relying on takeout 3 nights a week (a ridiculous expense but I just couldn't keep it together). Or where months went by where I couldn't give anyone enough attention because I was immersed with doctors. What felt so permanent and so long term and possibly bad for my children ended up being just another blip in their lives. Life, if we are fortunate, is long term. It goes over the course of years. Your 2yo will settle down next year when he is with you all day again. Your 6yo can de-school and rediscover the joys of reading and projects. School takes a lot of energy. When my daughter went to daycamp she wanted 2-3 hours of TV to de-stress daily, and that was camp!

    There are pros and cons to every decision. Keeping them all home sends you back into the problems and difficulties you were trying to find solutions for with these solutions. You didn't make a bad decision. I'm sure in a lot of ways things did work out, but we just don't notice as much the relief and our attention seems to hover on "was this good for my kids" rather than "i feel like i'm constantly treading water but not going under every 5 seconds so maybe this was a good idea."

    One of the things I love about homeschool is that we do have the flexibility to make changes year to year (or even month to month or week to week or day to day). There are no wrong answers. We try our best, we readjust, we try different things.