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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Homeschooling Update

Back in September, I confessed that Brandon and I had decided to homeschool Kathleen.  I had been teaching her for some time already, but as of September of this year, she was officially Not Going to Traditional School, and I was officially In Charge of Her Being Accepted to College.  Not that I felt like I was under pressure or anything.

I imagine if I were reading a friend's blog who decided to homeschool (and I wasn't), I would have thought "Hmph! Let's see how that goes," because I'm judgmental and find schadenfreude in places where I really shouldn't.

I would like to announce that at the end of kindergarten, Kathleen is fully literate (which I confess she was before she started kindergarten), is able to write (okay I taught her that earlier too), knows her shapes and colors (I think she knew those already), and knows what a noun is.  That last one she didn't know already.  And she can count, too.  In Azeri.

So maybe kindergarten hasn't been that useful.

Way back a very long time ago when I thought about homeschooling my children, I had very pleasant visions of mother and child working together in harmony, having the child discover the delight of learning as the mysteries of the ages are unfolded to her eyes.  We would all work together peacefully as a family, and I would convince them somehow that doing the laundry and cleaning up the house was definitely a key part of their education.

And after a year, I can say that maybe I was a little optimistic.  We have had some days where school has gone well, the other children have played nicely and quietly, and even some laundry got folded by someone other than me.

And then there were days like Wednesday.

It started off well, with the usual 5 AM workout and shower (I never ever thought I would engage in such a painful commitment to exercise) and breakfast with Brandon and the children.  But after Brandon left things started to go downhill.  They always wait until Daddy's gone to start their shenanigans.

7:30 Send Brandon off to work.  Clean up the breakfast dishes, make beds, tidy up the house

8:00 Put Joseph down for a nap.  Check Facebook.  For just five minutes.

9:15 Decide not to order that dress from J.Crew, but decide that the Target one, in blue, would be a very nice summer dress.  And for 24.95, the price isn't too bad either.  But maybe I should send it to my in-laws so I can wear it on our R&R in a few weeks.

9:30 Decide that we have time to give Kathleen a piano lesson.

9:45 Edwin starts running around the room announcing he has to use the bathroom.  Ignore Edwin, continue teaching Kathleen.

9:50 Edwin removes his shorts and underwear in the living room, and goes into the bathroom.  Discovers a belly-dancing scarf bangle has fallen in the toilet.  Starts loudly demanding that I remove it.  I ignore Edwin and concentrate on trying to stop Kathleen's sobs as she incorrectly repeats a difficult rhythm for the fifth time.

9:52 Edwin starts crying, running, and yelling about having to go to the bathroom all while only wearing a shirt.  Kathleen is crying, too.  I am trying not to cause visible physical harm.

9:53 I attempt to put Edwin on the toilet.  He looks in and still finds the bangle. He refuses.  I tell him to go upstairs to one of the other four toilets we have in the house.  He refuses.  I tell him that if he makes a puddle he's going to be in big trouble, and return to Kathleen and the piano, fetching a kleenex on the way so she can wipe her nose.

9:55  The doorbell rings.  I tell Edwin to sit on the couch and don't move because he is still nude from the waist down.  A GSO worker is at the door; he's come to look at our broken washing machine.  I go upstairs and show him where it is and on the way back down pick up Joseph, who is screaming, from his morning nap.

9:58 I return to Kathleen's piano lesson with Joseph in tow.  While pinning Joseph's arms to his side to keep him from banging the keys, I tell Kathleen just to skip the tricky exercise.  After all she's only five and I don't want her to become a concert pianist anyway.  The lifestyle is too dysfunctional.  I keep ignoring Edwin's cries about the bangle and his increasingly full bladder.

10:15 Edwin finally gives in and uses the bathroom.  I put his underwear and shorts back on.

10:30 Kathleen's lesson finally done, we move on to the rest of school.  Having had enough of Joseph's wiggling, I put him on the floor.  He starts crying.  I pick him up.  He tries to wiggle off my lap.  I put him down.  He cries.  I get him a bottle.

10:35 I feed Joseph while Kathleen and I discuss nouns.  Did you know that nouns are also ideas?  I don't remember that part of the definition from when I was a child.  Then again, I was also educated in North Carolina, so maybe that was part of the problem.

11:15 Kathleen done, I move on to Sophia.  She decides that all of the t's need to have their horizontal lines 'holding hands' and connected to each other.  I decide that she can learn how to do them correctly when she's a little older.  I tell Edwin to stop taking all of the tops off of the markers and throwing them on the floor.  He tells me no.  I tell him one-two-three.  He scrambles down from the table and starts half-hearted attempts to corral the rolling tops.  I ask Kathleen to help and she announces that there are several tops missing.

11:25 Sophia and I start her reading lesson.  Joseph starts crying.  I wildly bounce him on my knee while Sophia sounds out b-e-d incorrectly (girl still can't get her b's, d's, and p's straight).  Edwin hits Kathleen.  Kathleen asks me to help her look under the couch to find a top.  I announce it's lunch time.

11:55 Everyone is almost finished with their lunch, and I can almost taste my own lunch, the end of my morning, the end of my aggravations, the completion of my responsibility to literacy, the beginning of the next chapter in my book, my own quiet time alone, and my blessed, sacred nap.

11:56  Joseph splatters a bowl of chickpea soup all over the floor, spraying the wall and kitchen door in the process.

Some days traditional school, preschool, and a nanny sound really, really good.


Mommy said...

I GREATLY admire folks who homeschool...especially those like yourself who actually mean it! I work in a school district where unfortunately, homeschooling is something people sign up to do to avoid truancy court and have no issue with their kid staying home to play video games all day rather than be in school.

Hang in there and hopefully it will get easier! Although, it will be interesting to see what happens once Edwin is ready b/c boys *generally* won't be as attentive as girls at an early age!

Sarah Familia said...

"Some days traditional school, preschool, and a nanny sound really, really good."

I hear ya, sister! Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. But it totally gets easier, and there are so many good days too. I only have two kids, and they're 5 and 7, so we don't have quite as many distractions as you do. Now that my 7 year old can do some things by herself, things are really getting better. Some of my homeschooling friends get in the formal schooling with the older children while the younger ones are napping, so that might be an option for you.

Hang in there. You are doing a great job!

UnkaDave said...

I are a produck of publick schoools and, hay, I turn out OK, no?

PaulaJean said...

I will have to confess that I was really quite happy to send you and your siblings to school every day!

Just US said...

Hang in there!! Eventually they will move out of the house, right? Or am I the only one who thinks that at times when I feel like I am grasping at straws to maintain my sanity?

Roma said...

I recently came across this helpful article:
How To Home school with a Baby Or Toddler (& Enjoy It