Thursday, April 3, 2014

hectic homeschool

Aside from the normal chaos and exhaustion that is our homeschool, we are smack in the middle of a big curriculum change.  Trying to navigate the schedule changes and new expectations has been trying at best, overwhelming at worst.

If you know me at all, you know I don’t do “overwhelming” very well.


I shared a few months ago what brought on these changes, (you can read that here) and thought for my own documentation purposes I’d better write up how it’s going.

To start with, we have completely changed how we are tackling the boys’ education.  We pulled Nate from our group-style lessons with the hope that he could better learn to manage his time, and his moods, which were becoming extremely challenging to deal with.  He went through some big learning curves but overall this is working very well for him.  He seems to like working independently, follows his lesson plans well, and is better equipped most of the time to be sweet to his family after his work is completed.  We worked very hard to get him caught up in the areas he was a bit behind in, and are now plugging along with the new curriculum.  I’m so happy that this is working better for him, at least for now.  It’s still not ideal, but it IS working better.


I kept up the group style lessons with Isaac and Elaina, but after a couple of weeks, I starting feeling that Elaina was needing a lot more one-on-one time for her reading. So we changed Isaac over to follow Nate’s model of independent study to allow for more time with both girls and their lessons.  And honestly, a much needed and overdue break for me.  Burn-out doesn’t even begin to describe it…

Elaina is now making big strides in her reading and writing abilities.  And Olivia continues to surprise me with how quickly she is picking up on phonics, numbers/counting, and lots of other preschool skills.  But this set-up hasn’t been going well for everyone.


Isaac is poorly suited for solitary study time.  He’s been taking three times as long to finish his work, and the work he does complete usually has to be repeated and corrected several times.  The general idea is that he is not really moving forward with his lessons, and is stuck in a rut of feeling like he can’t, so why bother even trying.  I get it.  It’s hard to stay motivated in a busy and noisy house like ours, especially when you are used to your momma keeping you on task with a thousand “Isaac – get your work done!” reminders every day.  At some point though, he needs to learn this skill, and I’m of the opinion that it should happen sooner rather than later. So plug along with it we will, using his daily planner to help him navigate his day, lots of encouragement, and the occasional group lesson and activity just to appease his social nature.

Obviously, I’m still trying to figure out the perfect formula for our family.


Group lessons were really only working for Isaac who is highly social and easily distracted. But he needs to learn how to complete work on his own and stay motivated through his assignments. 
Nate prefers to work on his school work alone as he is solitary in nature.  But he needs to learn how to be nice to people around him, and how to be respectful to his teacher, something he can’t learn if he is tucked away in his room doing his lessons.
Both Elaina and Olivia need lots of one-on-one with me.  And I am eager to do all of the special things I did with the boys at this age, something I can’t do if I am busy with group and independent lessons with the boys and mediating behavior issues all day long.

All of this leads to a lot of confusion for me as I try to find the time and energy it takes to meet all the kids’ independent needs all the time.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a momma who is overwhelmed and busy and tired and weary isn’t a very fun momma to have around.

Yea.  It’s like that.

Truthfully, this constant frustration is leading me down a new path, one that looks a little more like enrolling one or both of the boys into public school a lot sooner than we were originally planning to.  Saul and I have had several long, heart breaking discussions about this option and when the best time to transition will be. There are lots of factors to consider and all of that is still a bit up in the air. I’m not really ready to fully commit to it yet.  But a change is a coming…that much is certain!


As for our new curriculum, we are all liking it very well.  It seems to be a good fit for our family (aside from Isaac’s motivation issues…)  Here’s what we are using:

History and Geography:  The Story of the World book 1
L.A.: Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Science: Apologia Zoology 2
Art: Draw Write Now: Animals on Land, Pond & Rivers, and Oceans
A Reason for Handwriting: Cursive for the boys, book B for Elaina
Math: Horizons Grades 4, 3, and 1
Reading: BJU Reading 1 (Elaina)
Reading: Explode the Code: 2 (Elaina)
Pre-Reading: Get Ready for the Code (Olivia)
Bible (our own)

We’ve used a few of these before but the new stuff is the reading, history, and language arts.  The biggest change is the nature of the lessons to be more independent and less group based.  I’ve been making my own curriculum for Bible, Language Arts, and History for a long time and I am very ready for the brain break I’ve been given!


So while we plug along, and try not to turn momma’s hair gray with the stress of making big life altering decisions, we are falling back into very structured and planned days.  We will school through the spring and summer to keep the kids on grade level, in case a school change comes this fall. If you think of it, you can pray for us through these changes.  For wisdom, for peace, for longsuffering…. Winking smile

And for these four sweet smiles.

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