Homeschooling. The refresh.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I sit here at the start of what is, for us, the fourth week of homeschooling this year.  It has only been four weeks and I'm already feeling burnt out.  Head aches, WAY too late nights, and a sense of complete overwhelm.

Our weeks looked like this (and this is only half of the day):


Tonight, Simon argues over Math again.

"Mom, I don't want to do it."
I'm calm.
"Why, hun?  What is it that bothers you?"
(He sighs)
"Simon, you can tell me.  Maybe we can figure a way to compromise."
"I don't like it.  I already know it.  I've been doing the same thing since the first lesson.  It only repeats."
He's right.  It is a bit repetitive.  He's smart.  At least a year ahead in Math.  This is a third grade program and he's bored.
"I know, hun.  But, Math is like that.  You need to practice.  It does introduce new concepts every lesson.  It just gives a summary of what you've already learned."
"But I already know right angles. I know it.  And they keep asking me to identify them.  It's annoying."
I chuckle.  He's right again.  If he knows it, why should he have to do it over and over?  It makes little sense.  But it's the way we've always done it- school, I mean.  We do repetitive work.  We have to.  Don't we?

I didn't force him to do the math.  I watched him wire together a complex circuit instead.  The tiny lightbulb went on and he wiggled his eyebrows at me.   I sighed and decided to figure the math situation out tomorrow.  I often decide to figure things out tomorrow.

I'm not at all afraid to admit my short-comings and frustrations when it  comes to our homeschooling journey.  Home education is hard.  Period.  Those who do it are committed because we believe so fully in our reasons for homeschooling.  (And there are a wide range of 'reasons'.)

But just like being a teacher is a hard job, yet a teacher still believes in teaching, so it goes for the home educator.  Just because it's worth it, doesn't make it easy.

 I'll admit, I've always been a little sensitive about our homeschooling journey.  Or maybe it's just my parenting in general.  Pregnant at 20, completely unprepared.  Married only a few months later - no time to dream about what it might be like one day to 'have kids'.  I already had mine.  And I wasn't a year out of college.  Then, at 24, I announce we are planning to homeschool.  I can't begin to express the eye-rolls, the sighs, the opposition we have faced.

It was hard.  Because the nay-sayers hadn't seen our living room and the stacks of books about education, hi-lighted until they might as well be printed in neon pink.  They hadn't seen the hours of tears, the prayers, the long talks with people who actually knew what they were talking about.  They didn't see my heart.  They didn't know how strongly I felt about home education and that I had a million very educated reasons to back up my decision.  I used to say, "I don't care what people think", but I was lying.  I cared so much.  I'd say I didn't worry, but I did.  All the time.  I still do.


People ask me if I'm sure my kids are 'doing enough'.  Or if they're going to be 'socialized'.  Or if they take tests.  No they don't take tests, no I don't actually want to 'socialize' them with their peers, and as for the 'doing enough' - I think about this daily and work incredibly hard to ensure they indeed do enough.  Enough of what?  I've often wondered.

This year, I vowed to plan everything from scratch.  Every day was pieced together on a blank teacher's planner.  I use upwards of 45 books every single week.  It took me over ten hours to plan the first two weeks.  Exhausting to say the least.   And so, yes, I concern myself with doing 'enough', and I worry enough for every one in the room - so please (please) don't allude to the idea that I'm just not doing enough with our kids.  I'm probably actually doing too much.
 
I've realized something over the past few years but I keep needing to remind myself.  Or maybe it's God who whispers it.  He really should be hitting me with one of those books or something, because I just don't GET it.  I've  really got to stop caring about what people think, and start concerning myself more with what God thinks. 

The question of homeschooling 'enough' lies in His hands.  He sets the standard of enough and He should be the one leading our days.

But instead of finding peace and rest in Him, I worry.  I plan.  I stay up until 1am scribbling and printing sheets about Kenya, and organizing every craft and actvity under the sun.  I'm exhausted.  I'm overwhelmed.  And I wonder why I chose to homeschool in the first place. 

I need to intentionally remind myself - we homeschool because we feel called to.  Because we feel it is the best option for our children to grow in their faith and in their love of family.  Because God made them with a spirit of curiosity, a love of learning, and a mind with which to think for themselves - and we want to preserve those things with passion.  Because we want to spend as much time with them as possible when they are young, because to us, that's worth the investment.  Oh, right, THAT's why.  (Breathe out.)


Why do I spend hours worrying about 'doing enough'?  What is truly enough, and what is truly important?  Children we know by name die in far off places, and we worry about whether or not our kids take tests.  Life is one big test.  Will they pass where it matters?  Because really, that's all that counts.  That's all there is, when it's all done.

So, we're already scaling back.  This week, I've pulled out all our Sonlight Core A (previously Core K) curriculum that has sat on a shelf for two years.  It didn't work when Simon was five (I was way too over-zealous to offer this level to a 3 and 5 year old), but it will work now.  Everything is there, planned for me.  I resisted this, but now, I'm understanding why it is such a blessing.  Yes, I'll add books and we will still do our cultural studies around the globe.  We will add our math, language arts, science, art, and some Five in a RowThe prospect of using something preplanned all of a sudden doesn't sound like giving up, it sounds like smartening up.  This is award-winning, advanced Charlotte Mason-based curriculum.  And beacuse I've felt the need to do it all myself, it has sat on our shelf.  I surrender.  I'm done being stubborn.  I want to openly admit - I need help. 




As for Simon's Math, he has decided to accomplish the entire lesson on the computer program (we use Teaching Textbooks). As for the work book, we are compromising. I'm circling only a portion of the workbook questions for him to answer. The ones that are repeats, he skips. It doesn't need to be an argument. He's learning. That's the point.

I'm learning too, on this journey.  It's ok to be overwhelmed.  It's ok to need help.  It's ok to accept that there are programs out there designed to make this journey fun instead of exhausting. 

I've also realized how little I lay our homeschool at God's feet.  How little I rely on Him for strength and direction.  Praise God that our kids don't fit into a box any more than we do.  Praise God we have options and resources, and grace for the every day.

 Be encouraged, if you are on this journey with me - He sees you.  Whether you homeschool or not, you worry for your children.  We all do.  We worry when we homeschool, we worry when they're in school.  God knows your struggles.  He sees your heart.  Plug into His heartbeat and embrace what He would have for your little ones.  At the end of the day it isn't curriculum, or special lessons, or report cards, or enrichment programs that matter - it is love.  God's love.  Love for one another. Love for those we cannot even touch.  And yes, your unconditional, always-there love that extends every day into the very soul of the precious children God gifted you with. 

Rest in Him.  He can restore.  He can renew.  He will refresh.

Be blessed, wherever your day finds you...



Linked In:
The Better Mom
Titus Tuesday
Call Me Blessed 
Raising Homemakers

18 comments:

  1. I've been homeschooling 13 years and still often run into this with myself. I'll plan and plan and research and plan and organize... and a month or so later, it's all out the window because what I love is the planning, the organizing - but we don't really NEED that much of it and we don't really DO that much of it. Then I'm left feeling lousy about it all because I had such grand, lofty plans.

    I needed this, especially at the stage of life we're in (we pack up for an international + cross-USA move in 2 weeks).... the essentials are now sitting in a suitcase waiting and when we get to them, we'll get to them. For now, we are doing those last few cultural things we didn't get to the past few years and visiting the top favorites we'll miss the most. You've reminded me that's way more important than my list of lists of lists.

    Cyber {hugs} to you - have a blessed week!

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I love going to our local Charlottle Mason meetings because I can hear from Moms, like you, who've been at this a whole lot longer than I have. It's really encouraging to hear that their kids turned out alright. ;)

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  2. Thank you! I am experiencing very similar scenarios in my homeschooling journey. Your words have come at a very good time. I have come to understand that this is a calling and as long as I am walking in Gods will my children will be just fine and they are learning what they need. Blessings to you and your family.

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  3. I had the same issue with our math program (Horizons). We came to the same conclusion. Repetitive work, if it's a concept she understands, we skip over. Which means we skipped the final two-thirds of Level 1, Book 2, and went straight into Level 2, Book 1. And everyone is happier.

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  4. Thank you so much for this. I am starting week 2 tomorrow and am feeling very overwhelmed. I, too, am trying to plan it all this year and I am exhausted with our 6, 4, and 1 year old.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your struggles and your heart with us, I really needed to hear this today. Let me encourage you to take it one day at a time, and assure you, they are "doing enough", they are learning so much each day by being home. I constantly have to remind myself that it's not about doing school at home, homeschooling is a life style. :) I pray that you find peace in the curriculum you choose and may God bless you on this incredible journey.
    Jenn

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  6. This is wonderful! Thank you so much. I really love your blog.

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  7. Praise God for the work He is doing in you!!! Yes it is painful at times and sometimes we feel so stupid afterward, like if we would have just been more obedient in the first place and not so stubborn we would have saved ourself so mug grief and pain and headache!! But God doesn't give up on us and He continues to persist with us even when we don't listen the first time and praise Him for that!! I am so glad to hear that you are making changes. It was a hard thing for me to go to a planned out for me curriculum too. I felt too like I was giving in. But what a blessed relief it has been since making that change. God is so good and I still silently scream at myself for not following Him from the get go and instead trying to do things my way! And as far as the nay Sayers and the wondering if it's enough... You will ALWAYS have nay Sayers no matter what you do. And with God it is ALWAYS enough! Thanks for sharing your heart so openly. I have been following your blog for a few months now and you have been such a blessing and encouragement to me!!

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    1. THank you Kelli, that's really sweet of you to share. You are so right. I think though, in the journey of messing up - that's when we find our true path, isn't it? I mean, that's the time we are able to sit back and realize why God's plan is best and why we ought to surrender. Thanks again.

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  8. Thanks so much for this post! I'm homeschooling for the 1st time this year and I'm constantly wondering if I'm doing it right.

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  9. I have been homeschooling for 26 years and struggled with all the things you mentioned. Guess what? They are turning out anyway. God is amazing like that. Out of 7, 5 are done and they are all working, three married, own their own homes, have families (I have grandchildren being homeschooled)all have jobs to support themselves. And they are all thankful we home educated them. The time and love you put into them goes way beyond the book work. Both are important but trust in God and you will see Him molding these little people into what He desires for them. We have 12 and 14 year old boys still at home and I am much more relaxed with them. Enjoy them, they grow too fast!

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    1. AMEN! Thank you for this... always so great to hear from Moms who have been parenting for far longer than I have. That's wonderful about your children.... they do grow too fast. I can't believe I have a four-year-old. :S

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  11. Well this is exactly what I needed to hear. This is my first year homeschooling my kindergartner. I feel a tremendous amount of pressure to teach her EVERYTHING!! And I am oober overwhelmed. I compare my child to others in Public school and wonder if I am doing enough. I've done a lot of reading up and interviewing others who Homeschool, which has helped with this is bit-but still gnaws at me. Thank you for your words. It is a good reminder that I need to take it day by day. This scripture also helps me when I feel overwhelmed.
    "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

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    1. Danielle - be encouraged. At that tender age, they learn best through play with lots and lots of books. I felt really overwhelmed with my little guy being that age -but realize quickly that he WAS learning... even without me "teaching" him. ;) It's a beautiful thing when they really soak in all we present them with. Enriching literature is the most vital part of their academic education, I think. May your strength be renewed, friend!!! :)

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  12. Thank you! We are reading a ton of books, so im glad we are on the right path :-) I will follow your advice! Also, wanna say?
    , I love your blog and have been following it for a couple of months now! Love how passionate you are about life and Jesus!!

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  13. Thank you for your encouragement. I'm in year 5 of homeschooling, and yep...pretty much in the same boat of feeling overwhelmed. I'm here surfing online trying to find help for my 2nd grader who is struggling with reading, and found your post. Needed to hear this...perfect timing.

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  14. Wait...did I write this post? Sounds like me. The best thing for me to do when I feel like this, which is about every three weeks, is to talk to an unschooler or someone else who is WAY more laid back than me. Then I usually feel better. Also, praying helps me too. Like you, I don't always go to God first (or second or 20th) with my homeschooling.

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