Sunday, December 26, 2010

We're Almost There

So the past few days aside from being in the aftershock of the holidays, I've been really researching curriculum and in general the entire homeschooling process. I've come across a few tidbits of information that have been immensely useful and others, well not so much. Amidst the holiday chaos I've also been really cracking down on Riley. I've been doing a little bit of learning time here and there, a little more each day. My goal is to build up to the big day so we slowly adjust to the process. The "big day" seems extremely daunting, its the day we are officially homeschoolers, the day his education is my sole responsibility. 

I would say that today was the first day we completed a full day of "work". He completed about 14 worksheets, (mostly math because that's what he enjoys most.) We read a book about Buzz Aldrin, watched the magic schoolbus played outside in the snow, tried working on sight words, practiced more math with flashcards and then finally we had music time. Although it was simply making noise  with our hand held instruments, tapping along with Nick Jr.'s Jacks big music show really did encourage him to enjoy music and follow the beat. An added benefit I did not think of is the fact that Connor (age 2) also had one hell of a great day. I'm seeing a whole new side of Riley, he seems to genuinely be interested in more and more things. All of the sudden he's asking how to spell lots of things and he's noting things that he finds interesting. He's still quite off and on with his behavior. One minute he's an angel and the next minute he's bouncing off the walls and mouthing off. (I know its pretty normal for kids to become hyper but sometimes Riley LITERALLY climbs the walls and runs until he pukes.,or he aggravates Connor to the point where everyone here is crying) The bad times seem to be less and less frequent, mostly its just hyper outbursts. I have to say his really good moments are leaving me in awe, I've actually thought to myself who are you and where is my kid?" For example the other day he did laundry and mopped up the kitchen floor ...without being asked mind you, and he says nice things like "Momma your pretty great".

One thing that I have to say is my #1 concern at this point is that,I'm concerned with how I'm going to convince him to do things he simply doesn't like. Day after day vocabulary and sight words are like torture. (for the both of us) He flies through the words he already knows and then without fail he's "tired", fidgeting in his seat, staring at the ceiling, whining etc. I've flipped the cards around so that he has equal amounts of new words and old words or even only words he should recognize by now, he seems to be genuinely disgusted and annoyed. I'm becoming increasingly paranoid that I'm going to raise kids that can't read  or write but then again I guess the fact that he is showing interest is important. Persistence seems to be the only answer I've come up with. (Momma can I have some milk? ...How do you spell milk?)  There's really no going back, only forward for us. I know this is the right decision but I'm antsy and paranoid. I really keep fearing the curriculum, and day plans. How do I ensure he's learning everything he needs to, how do I figure this all out on my own? More importantly how do I pack it into a few hours here and there during the day without him feeling like his brain is leaking out his ear? Is he going to be a well rounded individual if I don't go out and buy a 4 ft tall monthly calendar with smiling critters and colorful letters? Will he be able to live without circle time? I guess only time will tell but that's not really very comforting.


  1. First of all, I would like to applaud you on taking your son out of school. No matter how you homeschool, it will be MUCH better than public school. :D Your kids will thank you some day (if they haven't already!)

    From a previous post, I know that you have heard of unschooling. Have you considered it? If you want to know more, there are many good blogs out there written by unschooling parents and grown unschoolers.

    As an unschooler, I say why does he have to do vocabulary flash cards? Knowing a word isn't the same as being able to define it - all that is important is being able to use a word correctly. Usage isn't learned from flash cards; it's learned through talking, listening, reading, watching tv, writing stories, thinking, and other things that we do all the time.

    Unschooling is just recognizing that learning is not separate from life. If something is important, it will be learned on its own time.

    So what if he can't read yet? He'll learn when it is important to him. So what if he won't learn algebra at the "right time"? Maybe he'll never need it! I learned it in school, but I haven't used it since.

    Homeschooling and especially unschooling are about trusting yourself and trusting your children. Schools don't do that. They don't have a reason other than convenience to teach American history in 5th grade and ancient history in 6th grade. There's no reason that algebra has to come before geometry. And there's absolutely no reason that To Kill a Mockingbird is read in 9th grade and Tom Sawyer in 7th. A person can do these things at any time, or not at all, and they will turn out just fine as adults. Schools have no idea what is best for children. If they had any idea, they wouldn't be able to decide on a curriculum at all!

    I understand how hard it is to try and do the "right thing" as a homeschooler. I left school at 15 and tried to make my own curriculum. No matter what I tried, I couldn't keep myself interested. Curriculum is inherently boring. I've learned so much more now that I have let go, and have found new interests that I would never have given a thought to before.

    I wish you the best in your homeschooling journey, no matter what you choose to do. Good luck! :)

  2. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such kind and helpful words. Unschooling isn't really a fit for our family for a few reasons. The primary issue is that we live in Pennsylvania and have to abide by guidelines and regulations. The kids will have to have testing at certain grades and we have to compose a portfolio and have him "evaluated" each year to prove that he's making progress and learning the subjects required.

    Its somewhat discouraging I'll admit but I figure at the end of the day no matter what his education is still in my hands at least. As you mentioned he's able to do more of what he wants to learn vs. what they're trying to force down his throat. I've noticed that most all homeschoolers are pretty easy going with their process and I admire that, right now I'm still in the lock and load phase where i'm terrified and prepping. I can only compare it to nesting before labor.