The Walking Mermaid & Homeschooling Thoughts.
We’re now in the second half of our first year homeschooling.
We’ve done about 95 days of school. The state requires us to do 180 days for the year, so we’re on track for that, though nothing says our year has to follow the traditional school year. I have a feeling we’ll continue learning over the summer.
In December we took a lot of days off. I had a major loss in confidence. Sometimes I think–holy crap, what am I doing? Homeschooling requires me to take so much personal responsibility for how my kids turn out. If they aren’t smart, well behaved, and successful I can’t blame it on the poor school system, or negative influence of their peers at school, or or or…
IT’S ALL ME!
Finding our groove has been hard. We are still finding it. I am still trying new things.
Strict schedule we follow? Tried that for a few weeks and it seemed too stressful. Perhaps we are not schedule people. (Except for when it comes to cleaning. I must have a cleaning schedule.)
It seems like we work best when we have a general idea of what we need to do during the week. A mental check list on my part, I guess.
I’m also still figuring out how Rosie learns best. This is something I didn’t read about or consider when starting homeschooling. It involves getting to know Rosie on a different level than I’ve had to pay attention to before now.
She really, really loves writing. She’s learning to read quickly but she resists learning phonics and worksheets. They make her annoyed! She can now read books like Little Bear or Frog and Toad by herself, with the exception of a few random words here and there.
It’s funny. Now when it’s bedtime she wants to read the stories to me. She also spends time reading to Ada. It’s like a sign that she’s left all babyhood behind.
Math is the hardest area. She hated the curriculum we tried after it got past a certain point. She hates worksheets I’ve printed. She doesn’t want to play games with the manipulatives. We just didn’t do any math for a month while I fretted.
I’ve finally found something she will do. The iPad! I downloaded several math apps the other day and she loves doing them. They are Splash Math Grade 1 (just the addition and subtraction sections so far), Math Blaster, and School Zone Math 1.
I want to be sure she gets a strong math foundation in the basics. These apps seem to be doing that. They encourage mental math, which is important.
Sometimes I feel like other homeschoolers are doing so much more. A thousand activities, expensive curriculum, school all day long learning every second. I have no idea how they accomplish that. Rosie hates sitting down and doing curriculum. She isn’t interested in listening to me read chapter books at all right now. I’ve tried to force her, but it’s horrible. She just whines and doesn’t listen to the stories. What’s the point if it’s not enjoyable?
She doesn’t want to go to a bunch of activities either. She’s doing dance again, it starts this Thursday. She’s also going to start piano lessons for the first time sometime this month. We’ve been waiting for a spot to open with a childhood friend of mine who is a great pianist. I can’t wait. Rosie loves to play the piano but says she won’t take lessons and she will hate them…she is such a negative nellie lately! It must be some kind of five year old stage. I don’t know. I’m trying to just push past it and focus on the positives, but some days I want to rip my hair out and hide in the closet with my ears plugged. (Whoops, a little too much honesty!)
I’m trying to make sure she has “recess” every day during which the girls go play outside regardless of the weather for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Their new playhouse is encouraging them to go out on the porch and play at least.
I think the next thing I need to implement is a mandatory quiet 30-60 minutes for a calm down period. I’m considering how that will work into our day. With Tyler sleeping until noon or later then leaving for work at 3:30 our day is unnaturally fragmented. I dislike it, but there’s nothing I can do about it so I need to learn to make it feel more normal. I don’t know how though. It just feels so weird even though it’s been nearly two years of it. It’s much better to wake up with the girls and go about our day, then clean up and wind down, look forward to Daddy coming home, eat a meal together, then get ready for bed and relax together. Not being able to do that makes everything about our day all disorganized feeling.
Cleaning is the most difficult part. I can’t do chores, take care of busy Ada, and do school activities with Rosie all at once. That’s just a little stressful. Ideally at some point I will have this all naturally worked into our day. Do one subject of learning with Rosie, then let her and Ada play while I do a chore, etc. Some days it goes so smoothly and I think, why was this so hard? Other days I’m back to ripping my hair out and hiding in the closet. I guess everyone has good and bad days, right?
I also worry that she’s not on “grade level” with her peers. Then I think maybe that doesn’t even matter. As long as she ends up well educated, does it matter at what rate her education happens? (Within reason, of course.) I have glanced at the kindergarten and first grade standards. I think Rosie is ahead in some areas and behind in others. It’s confusing and hard to tell though, which is when I tend to say it probably doesn’t matter that much in the long run. She’s not going to be just like a public schooled kindergartener because she isn’t going to public school.
I still like the idea of unschooling, but I don’t think I can do it full time. Some days I just let Rosie do her own thing though. You know what she chooses to do?
She will spend an entire day non-stop writing stories in her notebooks. We buy those elementary school printing pages from the Dollar Tree. She’ll fill an entire one up front and back with illustrated stories.
That counts as school, right? I would think so.
It’s been fun to watch her handwriting and spelling (sounding out) improve over time. Most of what she writes is readable now, and she’s so proud when we can read her stories back to her. I’m sure her spelling and punctuation will improve as she learns more.
This is a story she wrote the other day. She wrote it all by herself one morning while we were all still asleep. I think her stories are great considering she’s only five!
A Walking Mermaid
One day me and my mom were out sailing. We had done it all by ourselves.
We did it in a whale boat and it was big!
We put on our diving suits. We dived in the water. But our boat changed.
(She drew a submarine.)
We saw something. It was…
A walking mermaid!
It was crazy!!!
I’m sure I’m biased, but I love her little stories. She has tons of them all written out. Some are illustrated and colored as well. I love to see what her mind imagines! I can’t wait until she’s older and the stories get more complex. I’m saving all of her notebooks.
Ok, time to scrounge up something for the girls to eat for supper…