Monday, May 27, 2013

reflections on the homeschool conference....

... my view as we bike and walk on the local greenway trail.

This past week was our state's homeschool conference. We went last year, and David LOVED it. (I liked it, but remember, I used to go as a kid, so it wasn't really new to me. :) Last year, I was able to keep perspective. I bought very little at the gigantic book fair. I said to myself, "It's just kindergarten," over and over and over again....

This year? Not so much. I can't say "It's just kindergarten," this year. So all of a sudden, I started panicking. The workshop on burnout that suggested that the reason I'm overwhelmed is that all my students are currently very dependent on me gave me some perspective, but it didn't help enough. There were times when I felt like if I didn't start making a plan and mapping out our homeschool career for all 3 of my sons, I would be doomed. 

Yes, I said doomed. Because I'm nothing if not a type A, over- reacting stress ball at times.

I would think I was all calm and being rational about it, and then I would crack open my new copy of "A Well Trained Mind," and I would spaz. I would tell myself that I'd only bought it for some broad guidelines toward a classical Charlotte Mason education, but that didn't always help. Apparently, I have no business reading "The Well Trained Mind" right now. :)

David picked it up and read several pages in the beginning, and he was stressed out. He came to me and said, "Well, we're already behind. We didn't teach Seth to read when he was 4. He was supposed to be reading chapter books right now." And all of a sudden, he had some perspective on why he came in the kitchen after finishing his novel to find me moaning and gnashing my teeth to my mom. "You read "The Well Trained Mind" right before that? That totally explains it. You were fine when I left you to start reading an hour before..." 

Here's the thing: The Classical People have it all laid out for you. It's far too much detail, and its nutso amounts of work, and you look at it and think, "If I do all this, eventually they will have to put me in a rubber room. I'll be mumbling, 'Must follow the trivium,' and singing Latin declensions when they put me in the straight jacket." BUT, they give you a plan. They tell you if you teach history in a 4 year cycle, then eventually all your students will have gone through it 4 times, and you'll be set.

The Charlotte Mason people are so concerned about not limiting your freedom to pick living books and implement them, that they don't give you enough of a plan. They talk about how Charlotte did it, and they suggest Ambleside Online, but they're not giving to give you a 4 year plan for exactly how to do science. 

So I'm mad at both of them. And thrown back on myself to figure out what I should do for history. I bought "Story of the World," and then I returned it the second day of the conference. I couldn't get behind doing ancient history for 1st grade. I just couldn't. I know how many great children's books there are for early American history, and I had a sense of how hard it would be to find good stuff on the ancients for this age, and I couldn't do it. Now I'm considering a curriculum guide for American history from Beautiful Feet. Since my local library has almost all the titles, I wouldn't have to buy much.

I'm realizing that this year of homeschooling needs to look different. I need to plan more but differently over the summer. And I need to do less hands on stuff. The boys LOVED Five in a Row, and I  loved a lot about it, too. BUT, it required a lot of planning on my part every week to do it the way I wanted to. I spent a lot of time running back and forth to the library, and we did things like make butter and paint pictures of canals and bee dancing. And I just don't want to try and put that much effort into it every week.

So I think I'm going to try and go back and forth between "rowing" a book and doing a pre-planned literature based curriculum for history with a simple animals science curriculum for social studies on the off weeks. This way I won't have to think about or plan that. I'll have the books already, and that will be enough. I'll have a very active toddler that won't be napping in the morning this year. I'm going to have to be creative anyway because of that with when we have school. 


Not following the 4 year history cycle will not kill us. All the boys will somehow get American history and Ancient History and Medieval history, even though I don't know how right now. I don't have to know how right now. It's ok. 

But sometimes one of the hardest parts of homeschooling is knowing that its me having to pray about it and figure out what they need and when. That is hard. It's beautiful and rewarding and a way that God is working in my heart and life, but yes, its hard. 

Thanks for letting me work that out on "paper." I figured there might be some others out there struggling with the same thing or something similar, so I thought I'd blog about it tonight.

1 comment:

Brandy Vencel said...

Ha! I know this wasn't meant to be funny, but I think you basically said what *most* people who go to a conference feel, at least when they enter the vendor hall. :)

You are right that not following a 4-year history cycle will not kill you. And reading will only happen at 4 if the child is *ready* at 4. In my house it's happened at 3, 7, and 5, so there you go. :)

I think you will be fine. :)