I’ve Got the…Homeschooling Blues

Well, as many of you know, our homeschooling has not been stellar.  I have an education background as I was a teacher for four years, all in elementary grades.  In fact I taught all four of the grades that my boys are in and are going into and yet this has not been an easy road.
First of all, I commend  homeschool families, mostly moms, as I believe they are doing the majority of the educating.  It is not easy and I applaud all those who do this full time with one child or five.  I think you must have to have a true passion for this and unfortunately I do not.  I enjoyed teaching other people’s children because they showed up at 9 am and then they all went home again at 3:30 and I got a break before they showed up the next day.  I had far more patience with other people’s kids than I do with my own at times, probably because I only saw them five days a week, not every single day, 24 hours a day.

Lately, James has been working in our room on our bed with Richard as his guide, instructor and coach.  It gives James a quiet place to work without the distractions of his two little brothers, but working on a bed is not ideal.  Matthew is seated in the salon at the kitchen table where I work with him.  I am trying to get him to read independently, but it is a struggle.  He has the brain of an engineer as he is quick to pick up math concepts and commit those to memory, but the language arts side is proving more difficult.  We have been playing memory games with word families, doing flash cards with sight words (words that you just have to know because they are in every day reading and writing and are often difficult to sound out), working through a phonics book that he took home from school and attempting some reading.  The reading aloud and journaling is borderline painful.  I think Ethan may have more focus for quiet, concentrated work than his big brother Matthew.  This is not something that comes easily to Matthew, like the math, so it is the last thing he wants to be doing.  Everything and everyone is a distraction for him and an excuse to stop what he is doing, look around, play airplanes or guns with his hands and generally not buckle down and do the hard work it takes to learn to read or write fluently.

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James’ book report on Judy Blume’s book, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

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Part 2

Needless to say, I am demoralized about the whole homeschool thing.  The boys attitude is lousy, but so is mine. My heart is not in it and I feel scattered as I am not following an actual curriculum, but just going through some workbooks and doing lessons off the top of my head.  I looked into purchasing some curriculum from Calvert which is a homeschool program that a lot of cruisers use, but it was almost $1400 per kid and it came with a lot of extras that I don’t need and don’t have room to store so I feel like we are back at square one here.

I know we need to continue to struggle on, but this is the last thing I feel like doing when I get up in the morning.  I don’t enjoy being the bad guy or raising my voice at my kids to get through school.  Even after being out, living this lifestyle for over six months now, this part of it has not become routine or much easier. And I am a teacher for heavens sake!  This has really rattled my confidence in myself and my ability to do this.

So, back to the drawing board.  I guess we need to sit down and have another talk with the boys about their attitude and how much effort they are putting forth into their work.  I think I also need to let go of some of my expectations and perhaps let the boys take some leadership in what they would like to study and to continue in subjects that they enjoy.  Phew, that is a hard thing for me to say: let go of my expectations.  I have also done some research into other resources and decided to try some products from Sylvan Learning Centres.  The reviews of the resources was positive and I found them for a great price on Amazon.com so we have ordered them and I am anxious to start working with them and see how the boys like them.  Fingers crossed!

James' favorite thing to do, read quietly on Mom's bed.

James’ favorite thing to do, read quietly on Mom’s bed.

One of the best things and way better than doing school - playing Lego with friends!

One of the best things and way better than doing school – playing Lego with friends!

L

One thought on “I’ve Got the…Homeschooling Blues

  1. Leah, don’t get discouraged. It’s hard work and I’m sure you’re doing a fine job. That’s easy for me to say, since Natalia does most of the homeschooling with our kids. But that gives me a different perspective, and I can offer a few observations I’ve talked about with Natalia.

    When the kids get particularly whiny about homeschooling, Natalia asks them if they behaved like that when they went to school. Obviously, they didn’t. The flip side to this is that their teachers didn’t raise their voice or articulate their annoyance directly to the kids (at least that’s what I think; I was never actually present while they were in class in school). I said this to Natalia and that helped her stay more relaxed (I think “detached” is a better description, actually) when the kids were challenging.

    Sometimes the kids have managed to get on both our nerves before we’re done with breakfast. In those situations the adults are not well predisposed for homeschooling. When I see that happening I encourage Natalia to delay or skip school altogether. We can always do school when we’re all feeling better about spending time with each other.

    Just like you do, when one of the kids gets particularly difficult I intervene and go to the aft cabin with the troublesome kid. A lot of times the kid is just asking for special attention, and they get it by reporting to Mr. Muscleman’s office (I’m “Mr. Muscleman” and the “office” is the aft cabin). I continue to work with the kid in the aft cabin until they’re done with the activity. The big advantage to this approach is that I’m not fed up, so I still have a (tiny) reserve of patience. Natalia gets a break, the kid gets some special attention, and the work gets done.

    There have been a few occasions when every approach fails. In those cases the kid gets “sent home.” The ostracized kid then goes to our cabin or their cabin and remains there until school is done. This is considered a major offence aboard Taia, and the kid gets a serious talking-to after school (one time Natalia even sent the kid away with a note for the parents explaining what the kid had done).

    In our experience, the separation of parent and teacher is crucial. As long as we’re all able to maintain that distinction, there’ll be less snapping and less whining.

    You see yourself having some problems and you’re looking for ways to solve them. You’re doing a great job! Congratulations!

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