Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking Forward

There is a sense in which I look forward to the weekend, even with all of its busyness.  The main reason – no school!  Now I suppose that some of you are shocked to find that I do not enjoy home-schooling.  Doesn’t every home-schooling mother love teaching school?  Why else would they do it?  Personally, I excessively dislike teaching school.  If there were any other way to educate my children while on the road, I would be all over it like sprinkles on ice cream. 

I was a home-school student myself, and enjoyed school (all except geometric proofs and calculus), so why is it such a chore to teach my children?  I don’t know!  I just do not like it.  I love teaching piano, but teaching school is a whole different ball game.  Right now I am looking at a life sentence of home school – at least another 15 years added to the 6 I have under my belt.  I suppose that is why I am such a school Nazi.  I don’t even give my kids recess (truth be told, most days they waste so much time between subjects, they don’t need recess)!  My kids are wonderful—really.  I just hope they get more enjoyment out of their education than I do! 

This seems like a very negative post,  but how many of you are with me? :)  Yesterday I spent what seemed like hours trying to pound the one-vowel/two-vowel rule into Esther’s head again.  I try so hard to be patient, because I know she is just learning all this new information, but I really think the fastest way to an insane asylum is by teaching your own children.  The rationale behind this statement is as follows.
Teaching your own kids is hard because:
1.  You know the facts.
2.  Your child is very intelligent (obviously, because they are related to you)
3.  I already explained this fifty-eleven times before!
4.  If they still don’t get it, remember it, etc., more volume must be necessary to impart the knowledge.
5.  When you use volume (paired with great frustration), your child might turn on the waterworks (they are frustrated, too)
6.  While you are trying to calmly explain that “cost” is not pronounced “cluck,” (and would you please stop guessing and READ the word?) a fight breaks out behind you over who gets to use the three-hole punch next, and your toddler nags you for a drink.  The phone rings, and you get a text message from your husband asking if you know where some important papers are (maybe those are the ones the kids were coloring earlier).  The dryer buzzes, and the next load of laundry must be transferred from the washer to the dryer, and the dry clothes folded.  As the clock strikes twelve noon, fierce hunger pains stab your pre-teen son with such violence that he begins asking if we are going to eat today (as if eating is optional around our house).  Overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the whole situation, there are only two options--cry or shout.  I try to choose the latter whenever possible.  My crying would upset the kids.  :)

Teaching other people’s kids is easy because:
1.  You know the facts.
2.  If they don’t understand, it must be stupid genes.  Some people just can’t be taught!  No sweat.
3.  You can send them home after a few hours and give yourself a break!

While this is a rather facetious way of saying it, being a home-schooling mother is hard work!  My hat is off to all of you who are where I am (evangelist’s wives are even more so, due to the ministry deadlines every day/weekend).  To those of you who truly enjoy home-schooling—you amaze me!  When I grow up, I want to be just like you! For the rest of us, just relax – we all have those moments, those days, and those weeks. You are not perfect, but neither are you alone!  Make the best of it and keep looking forward to the weekend!

P.S.  Don’t forget that today is Mega Swagbucks Day!  If you haven’t signed up for Swagbucks yet, get started today!  I am finding better ways to earn all the time, and I am hoping to fund all my birthday and Christmas shopping through Swagbucks this year.  I just found a great way to save myself time and money – the SBTV Mobile app for my phone.  I can earn 100 Swagbucks each day just by letting it play while I do my work.  For those of you that do SBTV on the computer, it is very similar, but even better.  I simply mute my volume, and push play.  It automatically goes to the next clip, without you having to sit and watch it.  Great feature!  I can get all my housework done and still earn Swagbucks while I am doing it!  It might be best to make sure you have an unlimited plan first, though! :)


  1. Sarah - I tried to post this all as one response, but it seems it is too long :) So I'll post my reply in a couple separate comments. This is part one.

    I understand your frustration, and would like to humbly offer some advise. I definitely don't have all the answers, but I have been homeschooling for 15 years and have at least another 18 to go, with our youngest being 6 months old. I happen to be one of those mothers who loves homeschooling. So maybe some of these things will be helpful.

    First, look at what materials you are using. Don't feel like you have to stick with all one pre-packaged curriculum. Textbooks are a drag - for the kids and the parents. Kids enjoy learning much more when it is not done through textbooks, and I really believe they remember things better when they are not using textbooks. The only thing we use textbooks for is math. Everything else is put together with materials we love. More on that in a minute.

    As for materials in general, there are some great resources out there that are fun to use and much easier for the kids to understand. I'll share some of what we use as an example. For math, we love Math-U-See. It is very easy to understand, the teacher is on a dvd (and he is fun!), but there is still hands on work to do. It's much easier to understand than any other math curricula I've ever used (and we've been through a ton of them). For learning to read and early grammar, we love the Phonics Road to Reading. All the rules are learned through songs, which makes spelling a breeze. It also has a dvd, but it is intended for the teacher to watch the dvd and then teach the child. You could just let them watch it if you want. Teaching reading is probably the most time consuming/frustrating/pull-your-hair-out thing about homeschooling, but once it clicks you'll be amazed at how fast they get it. I'm guessing you already know this though since you have older kids too. Remember, not everyone is wired to learn to read at the magical age of five. If the child isn't getting it, back off for awhile, and then come back to it. The worst thing you can do is make it a negative experience for the child, who will then learn to hate reading (or to hate school). It's also very important to read with your kids - for fun as well as for school. But I bet you already do that, given your love for reading.

    One note here on math and phonics. Move through the material at the child's pace. We don't follow grade levels at all. Once the child learns to add single digits, move to double digits. Once they have learned everything you can teach them on addition, move to subtraction, etc. If you go at their pace you alleviate the pressure. Just make sure you keep moving forward and I guarantee your kids will be ahead of grade level standards.

  2. part two

    Now for everything else. All other subjects are best learned through real books - also referred to as living books - not dry textbooks. Here's what we do for science. We go to the library and start at one end of the nonfiction section and check out a stack of books that looks interesting. We may come home with 8 books about ladybugs. Then we read the ones that actually are interesting. We don't have to read them all. They pretty much have all the same info in them anyway, but it's good to read 2-3 on each animal (or whatever). We return those and check out whatever is next in line. I realize this may be hard for you with traveling, but I would suggest making a point to spend time at the local library wherever you are, keeping track of your last Dewey decimal number so you'll know where to start at the next library. If you don't want to go to the trouble of getting a new library card at each place, just gather your children together and read a couple of the books together there. If it's a town you visit regularly, it's probably worth getting the card. Some states allow you to use a card from any library in the state (Wyoming does) so you may not need one for every town.

    The thing about using real books is that the author is usually very interested in the topic so it's written with more enthusiasm, in a more interesting way, and you'll learn fun little tidbits that the textbook authors didn't feel was important enough to include. Better yet if it reads like a story - lots of biographies and historical events are written this way. Plus then the child gets to think for himself about what is more important about that person or event, rather than just being spoon fed a pre-digested paragraph. Instead, have the child write or tell you a synopsis of what was read. They have to think for themselves and learn to summarize that way. For history we use real books as well, but we go through things chronologically.

    I think if you made some of these changes, you might enjoy teaching a lot more, because you could read real books (which you enjoy) in subjects you enjoy. You don't have to be stuck in a certain time frame or animal if you don't want to. Pretty much everything that they learn in elementary school is retaught later anyway, so don't stress over it. Your biggest job during elementary ages is to teach them to love to learn, as well as to read and do simple math. Unit studies are great supplements too. If your girls are really into their dolls, you might want to consider a time period when those dolls might have lived. Read stories from that time period, make some little time period outfits for the dolls, let the boys practice some of the things boys did back then, and they can all dress up themselves if they want. Have them make a model of something invented during that time, etc. School will become fun for all of you and not be a chore. They won't even realize they are doing school rather than playing, if you take this approach.

    Sorry this is so long. I just thought you might benefit from some of these ideas. Oh. One more thing - for handwriting, we use Bible verses, poems, etc. I bought a computer program that prints all the different school handwriting fonts and I print everything in Abeka cursive and print it out, then have them copy it. Of course you have to teach how to form each letter and join them first, but then it's just whatever we want to write - including thank you notes or whatever.

    I would highly recommend that you read "A Pocketful of Pinecones" by Karen Andreola. It reads like a story and is full of great ideas. Anyway, hope that helps. I'd be glad to answer any questions you have. You can email me if you want. tjboyce(at)juno(dot)com

  3. I found myself laughing at this entire post....I totally get the add volume to get the lesson points across, and they do often result in tears. Of course they should know what you are explaining, esp. after the 50-11th time! :) I don't share the extreme frustration you must have teaching several grades and having littles not in school playing along side. And adding to that being on the road. How DO you do it?? That is the reason for the messy trailer I'm what's my excuse? LOL Praying for ya, from one H.S. Mama to another.

  4. Sarah,
    I totally understand the frustration. Remember, I homeschooled for 21 years and NO, I do not miss it, though I really did enjoy most of it. If all my students had been like you, I would have said I loved every moment(except for 6 weeks of calculus!!), but you had 2 brothers. Enough said. I really think recess is great. I always gave it to you kids, not because you needed a break, but because I did!!!;) I love you and wish you lived close enough that I could give you a break. Maybe the Abeka is getting to you. It did me and I changed things. Love you much!! Mom

  5. Thank you, everyone for your kind and helpful comments. Had a good day of school today - no tears, no drama, done before 2 p.m. Yay! :)

  6. Haha- I laughed through this post too. I don't enjoy homeschooling either and there are many days that I wish there was another option. I am still exploring curriculums and have been using Abeka this year with Caleb. I'm finding it stressful but I'm scared to switch because I don't know what to switch to....Caleb is an emotional child, so if he gets one question wrong, he has a meltdown. So frustrating! He just cannot get the concept of I backed off for awhile to take it slower.
    I know EXACTLY how you feel about loving teaching piano! In fact, I asked myself the other day "Why do I enjoy teaching piano but I hate homeschooling?" I was homeschooled, too, and it was a good experience. But I feel totally lost doing it with my child. At least we know we're not alone in our insanity! :)

  7. thanks for your honesty!! :) Don't know if I will ever need to or enjoy homeschooling either so will keep this in mind if I do! :)

    BTW, the swagbucks tip - how am I just learning about this??? I just read this on a previous blog TODAY before I clicked on yours. So excited!! Earned 70 last night alone. Think I have convinced David to sign up for an account too. :)

    (You know you can do that now- Swagbucks allows you to have more than 1 account per household. so if Paul has a smartphone- sign him up and earn on his phone too :)

  8. Sarah, I am with you. What I didn't realize way back when I started home schooling my oldest (could it really have been 18 years ago?) was that it becomes more boring with each successive child. I think you will find the following exchange humorous. It was with one of my "graduates" who was home for Christmas break. I'll withhold the name because Luke would be embarrassed if I told you it was him.

    Child: "Mom--I have a confession to make."

    Me: "Go ahead, Luke."

    Child: "I hated being homeschooled."

    Me: "Well, I have a confession to make, too. I hated homeschooling you."

    Palpable silence for the next few seconds, after which we both burst out laughing. Then he asked, "Then WHY DID YOU DO IT?" So I got to share our philosophy of world view and education with him. He said he'd probably homeschool his children, should he ever marry and have any.