W.T. asks from Eagle Mountain, UT on February 24, 2008
Help Needed with Homeschool
We started homeschool this year and have gotten through the 1st semester ok, but are having a hard time getting through the second, especially with the snow! We are using a curriculum that can feel like we are slaves to it unless I get creative and try to make the lessons more fun. I just don't have that kind of time. I have a 9yr old boy who loves to write his own books, but when asked to study language arts and literature, and division in math, he really fights it. He doesn't like book work. He wants to be able to pick what he wants to do, but there are still things that are required for him to pass his end of yr. tests. I have read about unschooling and don't quite understand it. To me, it seems like the kids are able to do whatever, with little to no structure. My husband won't allow it anyway. He wants us to test the kids. I would like a little more freedom w/ what we want to learn.
I also have an 8 yr. old girl that used to throw tantrums every day and say she hates homeschool. After spending 2 hrs w/ her on a math concept she didn't understand, she finally understood it and I praised her like crazy! She now rarely throws tantrums and she gets her work done. Days like that, although hard, make homeschooling worth it!
Then there are my 4 yr. old daughter and my 9 month old son. My daughter has her own desk and likes to do a few worksheets and projects, but looses interest fast. She is constantly saying I don't pay enough attention to her. My baby needs attention too. How do moms do it all with multiple aged kids at different levels and keep the house clean, run errands, etc. and still stay sane? I have used various charts for chores, a school schedule, etc. but the kids complain about them and I try something else. I just don't feel like I am being consistent w/ them and they are walking all over me. We get their work done, but are sometimes not done unil 4pm. I am trying to establish a 9am-1:30pm time for school so I can get a nap in and get things I need to done around the house. I told the kids that whatever they don't finish becomes their homework. We have to do this because our schools are so overcrowded, but it would really be nice not to have to deal with the rigors of this curriculum. How can we change these few things and have more harmony in our home, have more time that is fun together and get all we need to do done?
So What Happened?™
I just want everyone to know how grateful I am for your support and encouragement with my efforts at homeschooling. It is nice to know others are going through similar things and there are answers for them. Just to update you, I had a talk with my hubby last night about opening our minds to different ways our kids learn and relaxing a bit with the curriculum. I had some great ideas last night before going to bed and was encouraged and excited for today. My hubby said I was talking in my sleep about it! Anyway, we had our regular "devotional" w/ the calendar, pledge, prayer, scriptures and our Story of the World History book. The kids always want to read more of that one. We use K12 as our curriculum and the kids are almost at 80% already in several of the subjects. I've been having my son do 6 lessons a day and my daughter do 4 (4th and 2nd grades). When I explained to my kids what I wanted to do today, doing more of a relaxed unschool day, they were very excited. We had my younger daughter's 4th bday this morning w/ presents and then we got out the clay and I taught them how to make coil pots. We cleaned up and went outside to ride my daughter's new bike and go on a walk. Then we came back and the kids worked on their stories they have been writing on the computer. My oldest daughter wanted to do a craft, so she found one in the craft book and made a TV out of a box and then played like she was a news reporter. Then I got some dishes done while the girls played together and we had lunch. That's where we are. I am writing things down as we do them so my husband can see what we do in a day. I feel like we aren't really doing much, because the curriculum has been so rigorous up to this point, but the kids are more relaxed and happy and so am I. I think I need to let go of some of the control I have been exerting onto them as their "teacher" and allow for them to explore and teach them more themselves. We do need to finish the curriculum, but I thought maybe we can add a few lessons in as we feel like it instead of requiring a certain amt. every day. I would love to hear how other K12 or virtual schoolers do this and not feel such pressure to finish it all. I know we need to just take baby steps and learn more how to be than to conform to a strict curiculum that we end up resenting. I would love to continue homeschooling our kids, but not the way we have been. No one really enjoys it and I have found my 9 yr. old going off into another world to escape again like he did in public school. That means he is bored of what he is doing and the joy is being sucked out of it all. I took my kids out so they could get their love for learning back and they did for awhile, but we got right back into the mundane tasks everyday and it has been very little fun. Thank you all for your help in breaking us out of this silly box. I know it will take time but I think we're on the right track.
R.C. answers from Denver on March 04, 2008
We have been doing home school for over 5 years now. I was with one that was too much paperwork. We have been with Vilas Online for three years now and love it. I have teacher support and it is public school online. I only have two kids ages 10 and 12 and both learn totally different. Plus I work a home based business and my husband is gone a lot for work. It is definately a struggle but tried the public schools three different times only to be severely disappointed. The girls are on A Honor rolls and in dance. We also do field trips with other friends that homeschool. What state are you located?
Feel free to respond for more information.
J.O. answers from Boise on February 25, 2008
I don't home school, so I have no real advice. I just wanted to say that I admire anyone who does or tries. I couldn't imagine juggling it all. I found a web sit that helps balancing the family, home and homeschooling hope it helps...
J.R. answers from Salt Lake City on February 25, 2008
HI W.! I have a darling friend who home-schooled her children for almost 13 years. They are wonderful, great kids and she was part of a home-schooling group that took turns teaching different subjects to each others children in subjects they were strong in. It also cut down on preparation. They even took field trips together and when her children finally entered public school at the oder ages they transitioned very well. I know she went to an annual convention for homeschooling, so maybe you check into that, too. Have you checked into support groups in your area for other home-schooling families? Maybe you can network like you do here on mamasource....Good luck, you're incredible to be able to do this!
M.M. answers from Missoula on February 26, 2008
I did homeschool with my 3 children, off and on with public school. I know there can be alot of days when things seem totally out of control and crazy. I want to offer you encouragment and support, I think you are very wise.
By the way, my 3 children each started college at the age of 15. My oldest daughter got a masters degree and then went to law school, and is now a prosecutor.
My son is now in graduate school to earn a masters degree in math. (He wouldn't allow me to teach him math.)
My youngest graduated from college last year and is now employeed. All 3 graduated with "honors".
The easiest and briefest advice I can give you now is, as much as possible, allow your older children to make their own decisions about what they want to "learn". It may take awhile before they get interested in something specific, be patient. When they do find something, then do your best to find all the info and resourses about that topic. They will be so motivated to learn they will want to study day and night.
If you plan to "test" them throughout the year, show them the test and inform them about it. If they fail the test, that's OK, allow them to fail.
Parents may worry (it's normal), how will my kids go to college and succeed in the "real world" if they don't have a rigerous curriculum when they are young. I told my kids, if you want to earn a college degree, you play by "their", the university's rules. If you don't like a teacher or a class, you can usually drop the class, take it later, find another teacher, etc, to fulfill the graduation requirements. This empowers them to set their own goals, and know that their decisions are valid.
A few times, my kids decided to go back to public school, I supported their decision, and I was off the hook for any wineing about getting up early, they had made the decision. They went back into the classroom and were top students in their grades.
For kids, anything that smells like "busy work" or unnecessary repetition, is actually an insult, unless they get a kick out of doing something specific repititiously.
Your older ones can begin to "teach" your younger ones, if their personalities are compatable, and the younger ones are treated with respect.
Hang in there, you're doing fine, it IS worth it!
J.C. answers from Provo on February 26, 2008
I don't know much about homeschooling, but which program are yo using. I know here in Utah there is an internet one called "K12". Many parents have been very happy with it, because each week you have to check in with a live teacher to report. This takes the stress off of you, but encourages the kids. Just a suggestion!
M.N. answers from Colorado Springs on February 25, 2008
You need to search fro a homeschool group in which you can be involved an interact. Not only will the socializing be good for you and the children, but the wisdom of the more experienced parents will be more naturally shared in a casual environment. Furthermore, you might find a group that co-ops teaching of homeschool classes a few days a weeks or takes turns with the younger kids. You never know what you will find until you start looking.
What do you have available at your church? If your church does not support your homeschool efforts seek one that does.
My words may not be the answer but I hope they will casue you to search for more in your area because there are answers arounds you; I used to homeschool, so I know that what you need is available and there are many around you who will gladly walk with you in your mutual journies
L.R. answers from Washington DC on February 25, 2008
I am just starting to homeschool so unfortunately I can't offer much advice. However, I wanted to mention a group that I belong to that offers a lot of support-PCHE. It is a Christian homeschooling group. You can check out their website if you are interested-www.PCHE.org. I am sure that you could get more help from someone in the group who has been homeschooling longer than I have.
D.B. answers from Denver on February 26, 2008
have you looked into any waldorf homeschooling ideas? I don't know enough about the philosophy as the kids get older, my son is in preschool still. I do believe the older kids write their own text books... that may interest your oldest son.
I had more to add... but a screaming baby and talkative 4 year old need some attention!
D.G. answers from Colorado Springs on February 26, 2008
W., i was homeschooled for several years. my family didn't use a preset curriculum, rather we simply got the books from the school and other school books that we were interested in. i was a little older than your son when i homeschooled, but the tactic i used to keep things interesting may work for him as well. i had a set of assignments or reading goals for either the day or the week and i was able to chose which assignments i did when. this could work by day or week. your son can still get the assignments done, but would have a little more freedom to do the assignments in the order he might prefer to keep him interested. as for keeping the work interesting and fun, ask your son for suggestions. maybe he has some ideas for projects that related to what he learning. try to draw on what he likes. if he likes to write, but isn't that into literature bookwork, invite him to rewrite the ending of a story he reads or draw a picture. when kids start homeschooling they often expect to have all this freedom and free time and when they realize they still have to do schoolwork and stick to a schedule it can be a hard reality to face, especially for younger kids. letting him have as much freedom and creativity in his work as possible while still getting all the work done is key. i haven't looked into this here, but you may try to connect with a homeschool group here in the springs area. there are probably sereval that can offer support and new ideas. good luck with everything!
J.F. answers from Colorado Springs on February 26, 2008
Since your husband does not want to Unschool, consider Eclectic Homeschooling, where you don't use a set curriculum, but find what is best for each child. That way, you can pick and choose.
You may want to get in contact with one of the homeschool support groups in town too.
My family is an unschooling family and it works for us. I don't use virtual public or private schools. I do things my own way. My children are 13, 11, and 8 and read, write, explore, and decide at their own pace what they want to learn.