Monday, February 14, 2011

Dealing with Sick Kids and Mom's Work Schedule

Mercedes has had the flu all weekend.  Bless her heart.  She's slept all weekend long, and I've been pumping fluids (and Tylenol) into her.  She flopped on the couch most of the day. 

However, I had to go to Salt Lake to clean an office for a client.  So I hauled the kids along with me.  I'm so glad I did - the job went so much faster with their help!  Mercedes vacuumed the floors, Jared helped me polish the furniture and take out the trash, and instead of the 2 hour job it would have been, we were done in 20 minutes. I was able to get back early, get my grandson from public school, and meet with my business partner an hour before I would have without their help!

Jared diligently did his schoolwork.  Mercedes, like I said, flopped on the couch and watched Harry Potter.  But, as I said, she's not feeling well, so I didn't worry about it too much today.  If they'd gone to public school, they'd have been in Valentines Day parties all day long, anyway. 

It was nice to be able to teach - and show - them that their efforts are valuable.  This is real-life stuff here.  And that's what I want them to learn! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No, I'm Really Not That Organized.

It never fails.  I talk about what I do - I'm a Reiki master teacher, have two jobs (mostly working at home), a boyfriend, and homeschool - and people are amazed.  "You must be really organized!"

Um.  No. Not at all. 

I can organize other people's stuff just fine.  It's mine that throws me into overload.  What saves my sanity is homeschooling. 

Once a day, I sit down for 15 minutes and plan the lessons I want to do for the following day.  Once a week, I think about what we need to get from the library.  We school (formally) for less than 2 hours a day.  Most of that is independent work time. 

Let's see - 15 minutes preparation, about an hour a day teaching.  2 hours a day, and we're done. (Ok - three if we go to the library and take our time.)

Homeschooling really isn't that hard.  In my experience, having had kids in both public school and homeschool, homeschool is much less stressful and takes up far less of my time.  And I've seen far better results than in government school. 

No,I'm not really that organized.  Let me tell ya - if I can do it, anyone can.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Remarks on Socialization

I swear, if I hear one more person ask me about "socializing" my kids, I'm going to scream.

Look.  When I was in school, and I tried to talk to my friends, my teacher would turn to me, fire in her eyes, and say, "You are not here to socialize, young lady!  You are here to learn!"

So why do people think that homeschooled children are somehow missing out if they don't learn to stand in line?  Do they think I lock them in a closet?

My kids talk to everyone.  They use please, and thank you.  I've taught them that the definition of being a lady/gentleman is someone who makes others comfortable in their presence.  They are comfortable asking adults for assistance.  They attend Church activities and Cub Scouts, walk themselves to their events (or ride their bikes), show up early to help their leaders set up and stay after to help clean up. 

In a typical day, they talk to: the grocery store clerk, the librarian, an ex-cop, my business partner, all the kids in the neighborhood, their nephews, Scout leaders, Church leaders, and neighbors.  Because they'll play with any kid that's reasonably nice to them, they are highly sought after playmates.

Mercedes shovels the walks for us.  She's decided that with the next snow, she's going to shovel walks and driveways for some of our older neighbors (and maybe make some money at it). 

You know, they get along well with nearly everyone, they know how to deal with bullies effectively, and they often help others learn to deal with challenges of friendships.

That is how I want them socialized. 

No one thinks they are weird - in fact, they are remarkably well adjusted. 

Of course, we all know public school never turns out strange, maladjusted children.  Ever.  Right?  And if it does, it's obviously the school's fault.

What?  It's not?  You mean, kids turn out to be like their parents?  What a concept.

Relax about socialization.  Relax about socializing.  You want your kids to manage in the real world - not just the pressure-cooker of public schools.  If you take them places with you, and allow them to interact with a large variety of people - they will be fine.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Different Methods of Homeschooling

Just as every family is different, every homeschooling family uses different methods with their children.  There are rigid school-at-home-ers (wow, that's convoluted!), the eclectic homeschoolers, the unschoolers, and so forth.  There's classical homeschoolers who use A Well Trained Mind  or Charlotte Mason or A Thomas Jefferson Education as their curriculum.  There are advocates of child-led education.  I tend to use a mix.

My primary inspiration, and the book I go back to when I feel like I need to get "back on track" is A Well Trained Mind.  I do not follow it strictly.  For one thing, I am a very busy single mother - I basically have 2 jobs, one outside the home for a couple hours a day, and another that I mostly do at home.  Either way, when I'm working, I'm WORKING.  (The ex didn't understand it - part of the reason he's the ex.  Bless his heart.)  Because of all this, I have to schedule time to take an afternoon off to have a field trip with the kids, and I need my kids to be very independent workers.  I just don't have time to molly-coddle them.

Hanging out learning about nature.
Also because I work all the dang time, I'm not able to "present lessons" the same way other classical homeschoolers are able to.  History is the only "lesson" I'm able to present on a regular basis.  (We use Story of the World right now.)  I have the kids read classics that go with history, and write narrations about what they read, then correct spelling and grammar and have them re-write it correctly.

I outline for them what I expect them to do that day, and they are able to ask me questions about their assignments when I'm working my WAH job.

The wonderful part of it is that they learn quickly how to be truly self sufficient.  Mercedes is a perfectionist by nature, but by learning to ask questions and daring to make mistakes, she's learning to learn.

Jared has learned to find the answers he needs in rather *ahem* unconventional ways - he's notorious for finding Mercedes' old workbooks and then copying them.  Argh!

Because my youngest kids have never been to school, I haven't had to cope with the necessity of "de-schooling," or allowing time for them to decompress after being removed from public school.  We do have times of burn out, for them and for me, when I feel like the best thing I can do is have them play as much as possible.  We have dolls, dollhouses, K'nex, Legos, magnets - and that's a great time to do science experiments that are noisy and messy, like the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment.

If you're planning to begin homeschooling, start with the books listed above, as well as John Taylor Gatto's writings.  And feel free to ask me questions!