It's been a full two weeks since we started up with homeschooling for the year. It's been stressful, exhausting and mostly frustrating - but all worth it. I am constantly amazed at how much I need to refrain from "recreating the classroom", and focus on getting the children to enjoy learning about everything in life and the universe. They truly are amazing at times, and I can see full well when they retain things that they learn, as well as when they rebel against any structure that even remotely looks like traditional schooling.
We've had some great days - usually when we are outdoors the entire day for our hikes. They have come to appreciate and enjoy teaching each other all about their environment when the information is presented.
Other days, when we are home and attempting to cover their structured curriculum, outside of my babygirl, the boys resist - with a vengeance. The only exceptions to date have been, experiments in which they can eat the leftovers....
Then I'm reminded why I am homeschooling in the first place - let them learn and absorb information when they are ready. More importantly, use other opportunities to drive home concepts and teach, without using "worksheets". This is still difficult for me (having grown up in a traditional Catholic School Environment), but I'm learning just as much as they are these days and I'm trying to adapt and change to suit learning when it's most opportune.
My saving grace in these past two weeks - My babygirl was not ready to read or write in pre-k (years 3 and 4), but now, she WANTS to learn to read and is so eager. And writing?!!!! She can write her name clearly and legibly, all having wanted to do so on her own (no pressure from us at all) and using the templates that were created for her. She even tries to read and write on her own all the time, and succeeds! She is so eager to learn, and completes her tasks when asked (because, yes, there is a bit of a reward with computer time once they complete their tasks for the day). It has been great because, so far, there has been no pressure and she has not resisted at all, to learning how to read and write. My reading and writing lessons with her have been an absolute joy! She's so proud of what she can do, and she makes me wish I had began homeschooling all of them sooner.
My boys have been interesting. I've now seen my oldest ready to work (at times), and my middle son resist. I know this is primarily because I've been testing their weaknesses, and for my middle son, frankly, he's already completed most of 3rd grade last year via our prior online curriculum (which suits him VERY well). So I'm challenging him in a different way using a new 3rd grade curriculum and he's resisting.
My oldest - well, I just need to prepare him for a life in performing arts, tv, movies, something in front of people - he thrives on direct communication and engaging others. Anytime I try to show him the tasks I want him to complete for the day, he walks away (and yeah, we are working on that). He needs to be engaged, talked to, and to be heard. Discussion is how he learns. So I have to figure out how to work better to suit his style, and yes, I'm a talker, but there are times I just want to close the bedroom door and blast my favorite tunes. I'll figure it out some day, and hopefully patent the technique and make my millions.... Ahhh, a mom could dream, right?
The hardest part in all this is, I'm not applying any pressure what-so-ever on them, learning is all on their timeline. I know full well, that in time, they learn what they need to learn, when it's necessary and useful. However, I am constantly faced with making sure they are advancing "at an acceptable pace", satisfying concerned on-lookers, learning the same things as their peers, and worst of all - making sure that my oldest does well on structured academic performance tests this year. So there is this looming fear, that no matter what I do, if he doesn't do well on his tests in the spring, our homeschooling endeavor will be put on probation. I fear this the most and I'm even more frustrated that I even have to worry about this. I personally was never a good tester - had the absolute worst SAT scores (seriously, they were so bad, it was as if I guessed the entire test - but my grades in school showed otherwise and I was accepted into Ivy league schools based on my overall performance). But such is life, this is what I have to deal with, homeschooling in the great state of New York.
It's been challenging and even within these past two weeks, at times, I've felt like a complete failure, but I know this is worth it. They have been so happy to be homeschooled - even making the effort to tell me that they don't ever want to go back to "real school". They are so proud to tell everyone we meet when we are out on a hike that they are being homeschooled and how much they love it, I almost feel ashamed - as if I've coached them. But no, this is what they do on their own.
I still have my doubts and pray that they grow up to be productive and happy members of our society. And for me, I really just want to raise happy children who are happy as adults. Everything I do, I am doing in hopes that this becomes a reality.