Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another Move

About halfway into our homeschool year, we started talking about moving from our Townhouse to an actual house. This was a hard decision mostly because it would be our 3rd move in 3 years. (I actual counted one time and I have moved 6 times in the 9 years I have been married.) We had moved from Ohio to Florida the year previously. With only 2 days to find a place to live, we jumped on the first decent available house we found. So that is how we ended up renting our Townhouse. It was a nice place, but it lacked some basic elements: a yard and friendly neighbors.

When we finally found a house (with a great backyard) and made the decision to move, we were very excited. However the realism of the actual work involved was very overwhelming. This was especially hard when trying to homeschoool and when My Love was just starting his busy season at work. We actually allowed ourselves two extra weeks to make the move, but Murphy's Law set in and some major problems at our new home left us with half our belongings there, half at the old house, and most in boxes. This wasn't very productive for our homeschool, which was still struggling. Oh, and I should add that I do NOT handle stress well. Let's just say that in the past stressful situations have lead to my having Adult Mono and a Hospitalization with a skin infection. So, unfortunately for her, my Mom got the brunt of my stress. T however was temporarily benefiting since schooling was the least of my worries.

After we got all of our issues resolved, and the move was complete, we tried to settle back into a routine. I was still ready to send T back to public school but we pushed on. We did a lot of field trips, lapbooks, puzzles, and read a lot of books during this time. I was glad T was reading so well since he still was struggling with writing and math. I again praise "Galloping the Globe" for getting us thru the year. We were able to supplement this curriculum with lots of books and movies. We spent most of our time on Antarctica (did you know this was the driest continent?) and finished off our year learning about Australia.

I had contemplated schooling thru the end of June, but by the time Memorial Day hit we were DONE. I was so burnt out on Homeschooling that I was ready to send my kids out of the country for a month. I was still stressed from our move, My Love was busy at work and barely home, and all the stress of worrying about jobs and family had left me an irritable, mean mess. Luckily our State's annual Homeschool Conference arrived just in time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Our First Year

After the initial shock of "this is my new life," I got down to business. There was planning to do, and planning is something I LOVE. I am just weird that way. I started reading every book I could get my hands on about homeschooling. I went to Sam's Club and bought a bunch of workbooks as a "do this till I can figure out our life" activity. Our first few weeks went great. We sat down together, did some workbooks, spent some time letting T be creative, and watched some great science videos. We joined all the online homeschooling groups and even found some people who wanted to form a Co-Op in our area. Things were going great.

But then the newness wore off and the boredom set in. I am not a create-your-own curriculum type of person, and we were floundering. I was afraid to purchase anything large scale without seeing it in person. So I started buying bits and pieces of things off ebay. I would bring them home, we would do them for a week, one of us would hate them, and then I would start looking for something different. T was refusing to even do any school work. Our newly formed Co-Op was floundering. I was still taking my daughter to preschool 3 times a week and then my Mom came for an extended visit. Things were falling apart and I was STRESSED!

Our only saving grace during this time was the discovery of a wonderful little book called "Galloping the Globe." This was what got us thru the year. T and one of his friends in our Co-Op really enjoyed Geography and they enjoyed each other. So this became our standard. We would meet with our friends once a week, do some kind of activity related to the continent we were studying, and then have some play time. The rest of the week we spent exploring the continent on our own thru literature while still struggling thru our math lessons. We were getting by, but soon we would be making more changes to our little world.

Monday, August 24, 2009

T comes home

I quickly discovered our first impression did mean trouble. Within a week I got my first every phone call from the teacher. "T is not listening." "T is not paying attention." Then the second phone call. "Does T have problems taking tests?" Umm, he's in first grade.... why would he have ever taken a test. This was an unexpected detour in our vision of our child's education. Never did I expect to get one phone call, let alone 2 a week, not to mention the numerous notes home.

I started re-researching Homeschool almost immediately, but only as a backup, never really thinking we would have to resort to that. However as each day passed, and each note was sent home, it became clear that his teacher was intent on creating an autonomous environment where sitting still and following directions were more important than learning and inquisitiveness. My attempts to correct T's behavior were only resulting in a child who now was resistant to learning, but still bravely went to school each day with a good attitude. My attempts to become involved with the school were unwelcome and red taped to death. My relationship with T was stressed and he was stressed. I didn't even realize how stressed until the school phoned one day to tell me he had wet his pants. That was pretty much the turning point for us. I couldn't imagine what kind of either stress, or dominance, he was under to not ask to go to the bathroom.

That night we made the decision to homeschool. Actually I very reluctantly made the decision to homeschool. I knew it was the right thing for T, but I was having trouble letting go of my vision of my own future. A future that included some quiet time (something I highly value), a few hours each week with both kids in school, and my going back to work, new (to us) cars, vacations, and other things that even a part time job would allow us. Plus I was still unsure how I was going to survive homeschooling a boy that I couldn't even do homework with. But we made the decision, but also agreed to wait a month or two so that I (the planner) would have time to do more research and assemble all the great books and curriculum I would find. I know you can all see where this is headed...

Yep a week later T was home and we were scrambling around alternating between regimented workbooks at a desk and an unschooling day at the library. You see, the last straw for me was the note home "T is picking his nose. Please inform him that this is unhygienic." Apparently, our first grade teacher had never encountered another first grade boy who is determined to stick his finger up his nose no matter what his well intentioned parents tell him about hygiene!!!!! So I sent my husband (the level headed one) to school the next day to collect T's possessions and to tell the school to buzz off. We were now officially homeschoolers and I had NO IDEA what I was supposed to do now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our Homeschool Journey

Welcome to my blog. Well, I will pretty much welcome myself, as I am the only one here at the moment. :) I vowed this year to start a blog and keep it updated. Considering we started school three weeks ago, I don't think I am doing a very good job. But I am here now, so here is our story.

When my son T was born we quickly discovered we knew nothing about parenting, but we had a belief system about what we wanted our relationship with our kids to be like. This quickly led us towards an attachment parenting philosophy. This was good news for our daughter who was born 2 1/2 years later, because she was a very fussy high needs infant and benefited greatly from our decision. We had lots of friends with similar interests and began to hear about this crazy notion of Homeschooling. I had heard of very religious folks doing this, but never my friendly next door neighbors. We still thought they were crazy, but the idea had been introduced.

When T started Kindergarten I had a Mommy meltdown and started researching Homeschool. I couldn't comprehend sending my little boy away for a whole day to this world I knew nothing about. Ultimately, we did send him to public school and he experienced the good (friends, a great teacher, learned to read) and the bad (a K bully and a bullying "incident"). Things were still going well when due to some unforeseen circumstances we ended up moving to a new state toward the end of the school year. This lead to another round of "researching HS" and yet another decision to send him to public school to finish out Kindergarten.

By the next fall we were comfortably a public school family. We had no doubt about the upcoming school year and excitedly set off to our orientation night for 1st grade. We introduced ourselves to T's teacher and in return she immediately returned the introduction and added "I want you to know I don't want to be just a teacher. I am training to be an administrator. I have ambition." Yes that did not give us a good first impression. I am not sure why she chose to share that with us, but Tyler had a GREAT K teacher in our home state and I never thought there was anything wrong with being "just a teacher." I guess it's like being "just a Mom." It takes a special person to do both.

To be continued.....